Forward Thinking

Jake Tapper's Afghan Journey

By Curt Schleier

Jake Tapper is best known as the senior White House correspondent for ABC News. But he is also the author of two well-regarded nonfiction books, a biography of wrestler-turned-governor Jesse Ventura and an account of the 2000 presidential election. His newest work, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” (Little, Brown and Company), is likely one of the most important books to come out of the war in Afghanistan.

“The Outpost” about soldiers stationed at an isolated base in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, with orders to prevent Taliban fighters from passing into nearby Pakistan. The top brass placed the soldiers in a valley surrounded by high mountains, with a single road leading in and out that could barely accommodate a pick-up truck, let alone larger military vehicles. The position was essentially indefensible — as, frankly, was the plan that put them there.

It was only a matter of time before the base was overrun. On October 3, 2009, more than 400 Taliban fighters attacked 53 soldiers at Outpost Keating (named for an officer killed in an accident while attempting to drive along that road). More than 100 Taliban members were killed, as well as eight Americans.

Tapper intended to write a book about that battle, but as he conducted more research and met veterans of the outpost, it became clear there was a larger story there. Tapper spoke to the Forward’s Curt Schleier about how he first learned about the battle, what changed the focus of the book and the lessons he carries with him from the seven years he spent studying at the Akiba Hebrew Academy (now Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy) outside Philadelphia.

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