4.

THE LAW OF THE NETWORK

How does one build a team with seven thousand swim buddies?

—GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL

It wasn’t a fair fight. The U.S. Army’s Task Force in Iraq in late 2003 was arguably the world’s most sophisticated fighting machine with abundant resources and advanced technology. It was facing a poorly resourced, ill-educated bunch of extremists. So why was the U.S. Army losing?

The Task Force was led by one of the army’s star commanders, General Stanley McChrystal, who took charge in October 2003. He had at his disposal unmatched firepower, armored vehicles, cutting-edge surveillance, and new technologies such as precision weapons, GPS, and night vision. Descending from blacked-out helicopters that could locate a specific rooftop ...

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