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After retiring from his long, successful career in the U.S. Army, General Tommy Franks penned his autobiography, which he aptly titled American Soldier. American Soldier, then, presents General Franks' personal perspective on the conflicts in which he was intimately involved during the course of his military career. Those conflicts involve some of the most contentious foreign policy and military decisions in American history, beginning with his service in Vietnam and extending through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter two occurring during the time he was commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, the military position directly responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. As such, General Franks was a major figure in the planning and execution of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His memoir, not unsurprisingly, emphasizes the effectiveness of the strategies he advocated while also noting the obstacles he faced from his superiors in the Department of Defense and in the Armed Forces.
Among the more noteworthy, if generally unilluminating, elements of American Soldier are the depictions of General Franks' interactions with then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as well as with some of Rumsfeld's civilian subordinates, particularly then-Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, of whom Franks had a particularly low opinion. General Franks retired from the Army a very controversial figure for the post-invasion anarchy that reigned throughout Iraq after the capture of Baghdad, and for the unfinished business the Bush Administration had left behind in Afghanistan, where remnants of the Taliban would be rejuvenated while al Qaeda was fragmented into disparate components that were harder to track. The decisions in which Franks was involved during the invasion of Iraq, especially with respect to the number of American soldiers deployed into the war, comprise an important component of the book, but there is less substance there than some may have hoped.
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