“America had a secret weapon,” writes Steve Call of the period immediately following September 11, 2001, as planners contemplated the invasion of Afghanistan. This weapon consisted of small teams of Special Forces operatives trained in close air support (CAS) who, in cooperation with the loose federation of Afghan rebels opposed to the Taliban regime, soon began achieving impressive—and unexpected—military victories over Taliban forces and the al-Qaeda terrorists they had sponsored. The astounding success of CAS tactics coupled with ground operations in Afghanistan soon drew the attention of military decision makers and would eventually factor into the planning for another campaign: Operation Iraqi Freedom.
But who, exactly, are these air power experts and what is the function of the TACPs (Tactical Air Control Parties) in which they operate? Danger Close provides a fascinating look at a dedicated, courageous, innovative, and often misunderstood and misused group of military professionals.
Drawing on the gripping first-hand accounts of their battlefield experiences, Steve Call allows the TACPs to speak for themselves. He accompanies their narratives with informed analysis of the development of CAS strategy, including potentially controversial aspects of the interservice rivalries between the air force and the army which have at times complicated and even obstructed the optimal employment of TACP assets. Danger Close makes clear, however, that the systematic coordination of air power and ground forces played an invaluable supporting role in the initial military victories in both Afghanistan and Iraq. This first-ever examination of the intense, life-and-death world of the close air support specialist will introduce readers to a crucial but little-known aspect of contemporary warfare and add a needed chapter in American military history studies.
STEVE CALL is an assistant professor at Broome Community College in Binghamton, New York, teaching both American and military history. During his twenty-year career in the air force, Call held many command and staff positions, including liaison officer with the army, Pentagon staff officer, and squadron commander. His PhD in military history is from Ohio State University.
What Readers Are Saying:
“Steve Call has written the authoritative account of America’s secret weapon in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a bracing and realistic tale—much of it told in the raw words of the air power experts who directed close air support for the troops on the ground. This is the ultimate untold battle story, written with an insider’s expertise and savvy.” --David Zucchino, L.A. Times correspondent and author of Thunder Run
". . . fascinating and worthwile book for military professionals, strategists, historians, and interested civilians." -Military Review
“This book will fit well into the body of literature that is sure to emerge from the so-called Long War . . . . Overall, this book boasts both high readability and utility . . . . The book’s strength derives from Call’s experience, insight, and the large number of interviews he used.” --Air Power History
“. . . explains one of the most important , and least understood, keys to success in conventional military operations—that is, actions against an organized enemy. . . Call catches the cadences and the mentality of today’s professional soldiers. . . seeks to tell a straight story, presenting shortcomings and errors as well as positives.” --Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College
“Many of us watched the war on TV – or thought we did. This book brings forth previously untold and important accounts of airpower used to decimate Taliban and Iraqi forces, ahead of U.S. ground-force advances into enemy held terrain. . . .it helps explain how the wars were really won.” --Col. Mark Buckman, USAF, Council on Foreign Relations