The Lieutenant Don't Know

One Marine's Story of Warfare and Combat Logistics in Afghanistan

Jeffrey Clement

This book provides a refreshing look at the nitty-gritty of what our troops have been dealing with in Afghanistan, from the perspective of a young officer who was perfectly willing to learn, and also take responsibility for his units in a confusing war where combat was not merely on the "front,” but all around, and looking over all their roads.
Date Published :
April 2014
Publisher :
Illustration :
16pp photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612002484
Pages : 264
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
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In our wars since 2001 the term “front line” has long since lost its meaning, and the true combats have waged throughout the countries we’ve invaded, especially along the supply routes. Our opponents have not been able to stand with conventional forces, but instead attack inside our lines, their presence everywhere, if not always discernible. Into this mix of behind-the-lines attacks, combat logistics have played a larger role than ever.

In Afghanistan particularly, the long convoy routes have been vulnerable to the same kind of surprise attacks suffered by the Soviets in past decades, the British 150 years ago, and Alexander the Great 2,000 years ago. The combats surround, and in that godforsaken landlocked land, the means to supply a Western army has to be undertaken with blood and sweat, once the quick panacea of airpower is overtaxed.

When he joined the Marines, Jeff Clement was not a high-speed, top-secret recon guy. A logistician instead, he led combat convoys across treacherous terrain in southern Afghanistan through frequent enemy attacks in order to resupply US and British positions. As such he and his vehicles were a constant target of the resistance, and each movement was a travail, often accompanied by thundering blasts as the insurgents paved their way with IEDs. Each movement was fraught with danger, even as each objective had to be met. As a Marine Corps lieutenant, he deployed to Afghanistan twice, and always found a learning curve, as men previously on the ground were more savvy, and the insurgents, there for the duration, were savvier still.

The Lieutenant Don’t Know provides a refreshing look at the nitty-gritty of what our troops have been dealing with in Afghanistan, from the perspective of a young officer who was perfectly willing to learn, and also take responsibility for his units in a confusing war where combat was not merely on the “front,” but all around, and looking over all their roads.


Foreword by Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Caravalho & Gunnery Sergeant Mario Locklear
CLB-6 Alpha Company Table of Organization
Map of Helmand Province and the CLB-6 Convoy Routes


1: No Regrets
2: Ductus Exemplo—Lead by Example
3: The Lieutenant Don’t Know
4: Checking In
5: What We Were Getting Into
6: Convoy Briefing
7: Routine Operations
8: The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment
9: Operation Lava 31
10: Into the Swing of Things
11: Route Red Recon
12: IED Strike
13: Back in the Saddle
14: Sangin
15: The Last Mission
16: Return Home
17: Reload and Do it Again
18: The Lieutenant Don’t Know (Redux)


Appendix: Combat Logistics Vehicles


"Finally, a readable, honest and gritty account of the dangerous, exhausting labor that keeps "The Green Machine" going. There is no 'rear echelon;' there are only Marines. Without platoons like the one Clement describes, our ground forces could not function." -

- Bing West, author of The Village and No True Glory

"Jeff Clement’s The Lieutenant Don’t Know should be required reading for logisticians across the force. For all we think we know, there’s so much more we don’t.”"

- Doctrine Man!!, Military Satire and Humor Site

“…one of the best war memoirs I’ve ever read…[Clement] pulls [it] together into a tight book that moves fast and takes you back to your own time, when you experienced these very same things… It’s really a moving, inspiring work, that’s enjoyable as hell, as well.”

- Stan R. Mitchell, author of Sold Out and Soldier On

“As the title indicates, Jeff Clement provides a rather unusual perspective on the war in Afghanistan. If you have ever respected the Marines, this book, written with clarity and grace, will cause you to respect them even more.”

- Martin van Creveld, Prof of Security and Diplomacy Studies, Tel Aviv University and author of The Changing Face of War and Supplying War

“This book highlights the critical role of logistics in successful combat operations. Clement demonstrates that Commitment, Competence, Candor, and Courage are the traits of a leader. A must read for logistics professionals!”

- LTG Kenneth Wykle, US Army (Ret), President, National Defense Transportation Association

“Life outside the wire in Afghanistan is no joke, and Clement’s book captures that vividly with the candor, humor and grittiness we expect from our Marines. His unit was thrust into service at a critical time, arriving in the war zone as thousands of Marines flooded Helmand Province as part of President Obama’s strategy to break the Taliban’s stranglehold on the region. Clement’s book describes the complications, frustrations and points of pride that went with being part of the U.S. mission to improve and get out of Afghanistan.”

- Dan Lamothe, Afghanistan War Correspondent and Military Journalist

“…I was completely taken by Jeff Clement’s wonderful story telling. The book is perhaps one of the best personal accounts I have read about support units in combat. Jeff is a gifted writer who has a unique ability to describe a situation/scene/action that puts the reader right in the action. I was completely taken by his humility and frankness…in telling the story without bravado. I highly recommend this book and intend to talk about it during my seminars at The Basic School, Quantico, Virginia. Well done Jeff, my compliments.” -

- Col Dick Camp, USMC (Ret), Author Assault from the Sky , Shadow Warriors and Boots on the Ground

“I don’t know if Jeff Clement thought much about his Marine forebears while he was in combat, but reading his story certainly brought to mind those generations of Marines who learned hard truths about leading in battle. What Clement learned—and what readers can learn with him—is that nothing worthwhile happens, on the battlefield or off, unless the leader puts the team first.”

- Ed Ruggero, Corporate Leadership Expert and Author of The Leader’s Compass andThe First Men In

“Jeff Clement has written a superb account of a young Marine officer’s day-to-day life in the complex combat environment of today’s conflicts. His book takes the reader onto the ground and gives him a firsthand sense of the events, emotions, and challenges our troops experience. This is a must read for all Americans who want to understand what our sons and daughters in uniform go through on the strange battlefields where they bravely serve.”

- Gen Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Ret), former CENTCOM Commander and author of The Battle for Peace

"offers a unique insight into the war experience... well-written and offers a realistic picture of what it is like to serve in Afghanistan as a Marine combat logistician. All I can do after having finished the book is to express my utmost gratitude for allowing me to get a glimpse of the hardships and terrors Captain Clement and his fellow Marines endured.

- Small Wars Journal

"Where ever you work: be it in an office, a factory, in sales, or even a library, we all were the new person at some point in our career. Fortunately, most of us didn't need to learn our profession under hostile fire like Lieutenant Clement did. Weathering out a tough situation is never a comfortable proposition, but it is part of the human condition. The realization that learning is still an option is applicable for everyone at all stages of any career. Jeff Clement wrote an interesting and honest account of his failure and victories, I hope we can all learn from it."

- The Huffington Post

"Without question, this is a volume that will be read and valued by many. In the following years, this will be a book sought out by those seeking an understanding the critical role of logistics in the war in Afghanistan and how the combat loggie adapted and met the incredible challenges the war presented."

- Military Review

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