The Outpost by Jake Tapper

Posted on: February 1st, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 8 Comments

The Outpost by Jake Tapper is a must read for the student of war, the doctrine of counterinsurgency, those wishing to understand Afghanistan and why ultimately success has been elusive.  It is also the sad and ultimately tragic tale of Combat Outpost (COP) Keating from when it was first established in 2006 to the final battle that resulted in two Medals of Honor being awarded. 


It is a testament to the close combat fight and provides a very unique perspective on one post in Afghanistan over a three year window chronicling various units dealing with many of the same issues.  One walks away with a depth of understanding of both the successes and failures of various approaches and commanders in Afghanistan.  It aptly explains the dichotomy of war where the right approach by the wrong people will predictably fail as often as the wrong approach applied by the right people will surprisingly succeed. 


“The Outpost” is very well referenced with numerous footnotes, notes and sources and does an exceptional job of placing the reader in the midst of many a firefight after creating a personal link between the reader and the soldiers in the fight.  It’s because of that personal involvement that most readers will walk away with a sense of sadness all the more so because it is a true story.  “The Outpost” unlike many books, also communicates the successes, failures, good and bad decisions along with the strengths and faults of many characters in a manner that doesn’t condemn the individuals involved but in a manner that explains how these decisions were made. 


Tapper also provides the most in depth account of the Battle of Kamdesh/COP Keating I have yet seen.  A fierce battle fought by 60 American soldiers against an estimated 300 insurgents ultimately costing the lives of eight of their comrades, 27 wounded and for the first time since Vietnam where two living Americans (Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha and Staff Sergeant Ty Carter) were awarded the Medal of Honor. 


I am personally drawn to books like these that weave the personal stories of the soldier on the ground into the larger operational and strategic policy decisions they are actually charged with accomplishing.   I’d be interested in the insights of those who have read the book.  Please share and those wondering if this would be a worthwhile read are also encouraged to post their questions.

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    Thanks for featuring this book, maj. I read Uris’ “Battle Cry” in high school, and have always returned to that book as a means of comparing others. I agree, it’s the individual stories as they coalesce, galvanize into a unit–that or fall apart completely. It’s the human factor that’s the most interesting with the best lessons to draw from, and of all books out there about these wars, Jake Tapper did a damn good job, damn good job (better than that Brit Patrick Robinson). Damn shame, Marky-Mark and Marcus didn’t read “the Outpost”, that interview made me cry. Ed Darack’s “Victory Point” absent all the “Lone Survivor” connection was also similarly a good read.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC I also remember Uris’ “Battle Cry” from my high school days.  It, like “Fields of Fire” by Webb (which I read in my Academy days) were excellent books that in my opinion did an amazing job of capturing combat and the individual without all the Hollywood stereotyping.  They are a FAR cry from “Generation X” depiction of the modern Marine which I believe did a lot of damage to the image of modern day Marines.

    There is a huge difference between “Battle Cry” & “Fields of Fire” (classic works) and “The Outpost”.  “The Outpost” is a nonfiction book and in that regard is superior in its insight into war, Afghanistan and potential application in the future.

  • clluelo

    Thanks major. I have downloaded it for my trip home.

  • clluelo Safe trip back to the arctic!

  • YankeePapa

    majrod TeufelshundeUSMC,
    …Battle Cry the film should be called “Bedroom Cry…”  All but a handful of minutes of combat removed from the excellent novel.  Uris was a Marine enlisted man on Tarawa… As for the film… the casting was brilliant (Including James Whitmore as ‘Mac’ He had been a Marine Captain in WWII) the score rousing… and the Marines loaned the film makers a battalion.  Audiences loved it… but critics bombed it.   
    …No one would ever confuse the film with “Band of Brothers…” Stick with the novel.  

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    YankeePapa majrodTeufelshundeUSMC 

    Agreed, YP, glad I never watched the movie. “Battle Cry” was recommended by my cross-country coach, Marine infantry.

    Speaking of movies, this is my favourite:

  • YankeePapa

    TeufelshundeUSMC YankeePapamajrod,
    …Oh, Battle Cry is a fun watch if you happen to catch it on late night TV.  
    …But Go Tell The Spartans, is a sentimental favorite of mine… Below is my review as posted on

    DVD ~ Burt Lancaster
    Price: $4.21 from $2.77

    6 of 7 people found the following review helpful

    A haunting film, June 18, 2011

    Amazon Verified Purchase(

    This review is from:

    …As both film and (fictionalized) history this
    film excels. Period not visited much… the true adviser period
    before the massive buildup.
    …The budget was very low… but the
    results are stunning. From a technical standpoint the haircuts are way
    too long… but in most other respects the “feel” is right.
    seeds of so many problems on the horizon appear… like a Greek tragedy
    where you know what is coming, but nothing can stop it. The brilliant
    musical score underlines the sense of combined courage and futility.
    ancient Viet Minh (precursor to Viet Cong) haunting his old battlefield
    lends a touch of the surreal to the film… And the French cemetery
    with the sign quoting the stone marking the spot where the long dead
    Spartans lay… gives what otherwise might be a squalid series of
    mistakes an almost Homeric touch…
    …The patriotic but not very
    bright lieutenant out of his depth… The draftee whose ideals don’t
    hold up to the ugly reality… the young captain whose focus is on duty
    and ambition… and the old soldier who would have been happier dying in
    a larger and simpler war…
    …Don’t let any of the negative
    reviews put you off… Unless you are looking for Chuck Norris/Stallone
    shoot-em-ups… you should be well satisfied with this small but
    thoughtful film…

  • Josezn

    Another one for the to read list. Thanks Major.