The Chosen Few

The Chosen Few

A Company of Paratroopers and Its Heroic Struggle to Survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan

Gregg Zoroya

Da Capo Press, Boston, 2017, 400 pages

Book Review published on: June 16, 2017

The Chosen Few is an account of C/2-305 Infantry’s combat experience in Afghanistan from May 2007 to August 2008. Known as Chosen Company, their story is told largely through assembled personal recollections of its members and official sources. It is a fairly authoritative account, but its focus is on personal experiences as opposed to a professional study of combat experiences. Readers who are not familiar with military terms will not find it challenging to read; those with military experience can easily look beyond the typical errors found in books written by nonmilitary authors.

There are discrepancies between Gregg Zoroya’s narrative and the formal study Wanat: Combat Action in Afghanistan, 2008, published by the Army University Press, but these discrepancies are not detrimental to a faithful account. Most of them are entirely reasonable considering the confusion and degree of violence in Chosen Company’s three defining engagements: the Ranch House attack on 22 August 2007, the 9 November 2007 ambush of First Platoon, and the 13 August 2008 attack on Second Platoon in Wanat. Each is treated with extreme care for the sequence of events and the details of personal participation that can be challenging to assemble coherently. And each is retold in unvarnished, often painful recollections that are windows into the individual heroism, fear, regret, and relief of young soldiers and leaders faced with difficult choices and limited resources. It is also a good study of the uneasy balance that must be struck between a unit’s focus on the human terrain or the physical terrain of its battlespace: Which takes precedence? Which is more important?

The Chosen Few could be an excellent companion to any serious study of counterinsurgency operations in Regional Command-East between 2006 and 2008, when Operation Enduring Freedom was a supporting effort for the Global War on Terror. Chosen Company’s experiences are often overshadowed by better documented or more publicized combat in adjacent and nearby areas, but Zoroya’s account provides a fair and much-needed look at a deployment that earned two Medals of Honor and forty-six other decorations for valor in an Airborne Infantry Company.

Book Review written by: Stephen P. Wuensche, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas