The riveting account of how a small band of officers turned Iraq’s most violent city into a model of stability
Colonel Sean MacFarland’s brigade arrived with simple instructions: pacify Ramadi, Iraq without destroying it. Large swaths of the city belonged to al-Qaeda, which had declared the city its capital. Other neighborhoods were simply uninhabitable; the buildings’ bombed out shells and the streets piled with debris. Insurgents roamed freely. MacFarland and his officers were vastly outnumbered by the enemy. Their superiors didn’t think they had a chance.
An unconventional officer, MacFarland came up with a bold plan. He set up combat outposts in the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Snipers and Special Forces teams roamed the dark streets, killing al-Qaeda leaders and terrorist cells. MacFarland’s brigade engaged in some of the bloodiest street fighting of the war. While the U.S. military command was intent on setting up an American-style democracy, MacFarland and his officers realized tribal sheiks—many with checkered pasts and little regard for Western-style democracy—were the key to victory in the Sunni heartland. He won their trust and formed the unlikeliest of alliances.
Cited by President Bush as one of the war’s greatest successes, together the Americans and tribes fought back against al-Qaeda and won. A Chance in Hell is a violent and harrowing tale of men at war.