Blood, Metal and Dust

Blood, Metal and Dust

How Victory turned into Defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, 2001–14

General Military
  • Author: Ben Barry
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 26 Nov 2020
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From the high-ranking officer who wrote the still-classified British military analysis of the war in Iraq comes the authoritative history of two conflicts which have overshadowed the beginning of the 21st century. Inextricably linked to the ongoing ‘War on Terror', the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dominated more than a decade of international politics, and their influence is felt to this day.

Blood, Metal and Dust is the first military history to offer a comprehensive overview of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, providing in-depth accounts of the operations undertaken by both US and UK forces. Brigadier Ben Barry explores the wars which shaped the modern Middle East, providing a detailed narrative of operations as they unfolded. With unparalleled access to official military accounts and extensive contacts in both the UK and the US militaries, Brigadier Barry is uniquely placed to tell the story of these controversial conflicts, and offers a rounded account of the international campaigns which irrevocably changed the global geopolitical landscape.

Biographical Note

As Senior Fellow for Land Warfare for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Ben Barry has written extensively for IISS publications including Survival, its journal, and Strategic Survey, its annual assessment of world affairs. He is one of the authors of the annual Military Balance, an authoritative assessment of global military affairs, and his publications with Military Balance include ‘Combat and Capability: Military Trends since 9/11', a concise analysis of the decade of military conflict from 2001 to 2011, published in 2012. Before leaving the British Army in October 2010, he wrote A Cold War: Front-line Operations in Bosnia 1995­-1996 describing his battalion's operational tour under both UN and NATO flags in the mid-1990s. The book was shortlisted for the British Army Book of the Year 2009 award. His final appointment was leading the British Army's analysis of the lessons of the Iraq campaign. Although this work is classified, its analysis informs Blood, Metal and Dust.


Chapter 1 - BEFORE THE FALL. The military experience of the US and its allies between the Cold War and 9
Chapter 2 - WATCHING AND WAITING. Al Qaida and Iraq before 9
Chapter 3 - EMPTY SKY. The Al Qaida attacks on the US and US led attack on Afghanistan.
Chapter 4 - ECONOMY OF FORCE. Stabilising Afghanistan 2002-2005.
Chapter 5 - BEST LAID PLANS. The prolonged planning for the US attack on Iraq.
Chapter 6 - OPERATION COBRA II. The attack on Iraq succeeds but is followed by chaos.
Chapter 7 - "AS THE IRAQIS STAND UP WE WILL STAND DOWN” The failure of the transition strategy for Iraq 2003-2006
Chapter 8 - THE IRAQ SURGE. Regaining the Initiative.
Chapter 9 - THE IRAQI SHIAS. The Iraqi Shia majority and Britain's problematic war in Southern Iraq.
Chapter 10 - ENDGAME IN IRAQ. Success in Iraq and how it was squandered
Chapter 11 - LEARNING UNDER FIRE. The struggle to adapt to the unexpected character of the conflicts.
Chapter 12 - A WAR OF ATTRITION. Afghanistan 2006-9.
Chapter 13 - THE AFGHAN SURGE 2010-2012. Partial reversal of the security situation.
Chapter 14 - ENDGAME IN AFGHANISTAN. Afghan government forces under pressure.
Chapter 15 - BLOODY LESSONS. What the wars tell us about war.