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In 2010 the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created a pilot program to put women on the battlefield in Afghanistan. In this edited excerpt from her book, Ashley’s War, writer Gayle Tzemach Lemmon shares the background that led to this game-changing decision.

From the start of the war, U.S. Special Operations Commander Eric Olson believed that America was never going to kill its way to victory in Afghanistan. “We have to learn to think our way through this fight,” he would say. To do that, “we have to understand it better.” For some time, Olson had been thinking about “the whole yin and yang of modern warfare capabilities.” As he saw it, “concepts that may at first appear to be opposed to each other may in fact be parts of the same whole,” and he had come to believe that the United States was out of balance, too tilted…

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