The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor

Jake Tapper wears more than a few hats.

He’s a senior White House correspondent for ABC News (but not for long…since CNN came calling). He’s an author. And get this D.C. media cynics…he doesn’t despise Glenn Beck.

(The lack of loathing is mutual—Beck described Tapper as a “great journalist” and a “master storyteller” in his recent radio interview with the correspondent.)

Another hat Tapper has acquired is father. And it was in the early moments of this role that Tapper got the idea for his riveting new book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.

Tapper told Glenn that while holding his newborn baby in his wife’s hospital room, out of the corner of his eye he noticed a TV news report on a combat outpost in Afghanistan that was overrun by the Taliban.

“Holding my son and hearing about eight other sons taken from this world…there was something about that moment that just captured me,” Tapper recalled, noting the stark “Ecclesiastes nature” of the life-death juxtaposition.

Tapper added that he became interested in learning more about the soldiers involved and their courageous stories, but because the media never uncovered why the outpost was there to begin with, he embarked on his own investigative work, which culminated in the completion of The Outpost.

Check out the video of Glenn’s radio interview with Tapper, which gives the whole picture of their excellent exchange:

(Related: Two telling examples—here and here—of why Glenn calls Tapper the “best, most honest journalist out there.”)

The particulars: On the morning of October 3, 2009, Taliban insurgents attacked Combat Outpost Keating. The 53 U.S. troops, stationed at the bottom of three steep mountains, would have to contend with nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Though the Americans ultimately prevailed, their casualties made it one of the war’s deadliest battles for U.S. forces.

And after more than three years in that dangerous and vulnerable valley only 14 miles from the Pakistan border, the U.S. abandoned and bombed the camp.

A Pentagon investigation later concluded that there was no reason for Outpost Keating to have been there in the first place.

This harrowing excerpt from The Outpost captures the essence of what our soldiers faced that day:

S–t, Daise thought. Oh no. Oh God no.

He had a radio attached to his belt and a hand-mike attached to his collar. “Charlie in the wire!” he said, for some reason at first using old Army slang for the Viet Cong. He immediately corrected himself: “Enemy in the wire! Enemy in the wire!” On a different radio frequency Wong repeated what Daise had called in: “We got enemy in the wire! We got enemy in the wire!”

Daise could hear the news repeated and echoed through the camp.

Enemy in the wire.

It was what everyone had dreaded, what every troop had known was possible since 2006. The Taliban fighters were inside Combat Outpost Keating.

In The Outpost, Tapper exposes the origins of this tragedy, exploring the history of the camp and detailing the stories of soldiers heroic and doomed, shadowed by the recklessness of their commanders in Washington, D.C. and a war built on constantly shifting sands.

Here’s Glenn’s most recent interview with Tapper on TheBlaze TV: