Zone of Action is a front-row seat to major combat operations, leadership, tragedy, and nation-building. These are the war-theater observations of a senior Army JAG constantly in the thick of the war, the occupation, and the Iraqi community. He tells the inside-the-war-room story of Operation COBRA II and Iraqi Freedom during the march to Baghdad and the nation-building beyond. It details his official and inner journeys and those of soldiers and Iraqis encountered along the way. It reveals the sacrifice of many unsung heroes and the challenges of liberating and occupying a broken country. It shows the character of our soldiers and leaders . . . and the occasional lack of it. But above all things, it is an honest, often humorous romp through war by someone deep in the arena.
Kirk Warner is a retired Army JAG Colonel who served in a variety of senior military lawyer roles inside the Coalition, Third Army, and V-Corps during the march to Baghdad and during the early nation building in Iraq. His weekly war chronicles were followed nationwide and at the highest levels of our government. He was a featured "hero" on CNN's Lou Dobb's Tonight. After returning from the war theater, he became deputy legal counsel to three Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Staff Judge Advocate to a national command. He has commanded at all levels of the Army. He is a partner and senior trial lawyer in Raleigh's largest law firm representing Blackwater and many Fortune 500 companies in courts throughout the country. He is a graduate of the Army War College and has five graduate degrees. Kirk lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Diane and their dog Wally.
I threw one of the two levers to the trap doors in the execution building at Abu Ghraib and wondered why they needed dual hanging chambers and why they bothered with the deadly redundancy of making the bodies squirm by simultaneously electrocuting the prisoners as they hung there. U.N. Special Envoy Sergio de Mello and Ambassador Paul Bremer asked me the same questions as they stood there aghast.
I also wondered why the Iraqis line up outside Abu Ghraib asking for permission to seek their kin’s amputated hands, ears, and feet that must be buried near here. I returned to the Republican Palace just in time to receive 556 teeth from 299 skulls from a mass grave at Musayib during the Shia uprising in 1991. I also wonder, how the hell did I get here? Just four months ago, I was sitting at a Bruce Springsteen Concert in Chapel Hill with my wife and good friends when my cell phone rang.
“Duty in a combat area is a personal experience to be sure. Kirk Warner, a litigator of national renown, and a citizen soldier, clearly has affirmed that adage with his book, Zone of Action. His writing is at times humorous, but mostly he offers earnest and intense observations of a group of dedicated American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as they went about the incredible task of imbuing the concepts of the rule of law and order among a population who for decades knew only tyranny. It is important for the reader to understand Kirk and his colleagues went about doing their duty while in a war with no clearly defined lines nor easily recognizable enemy. Zone of Action is a superb memoir. -Dan K. McNeill, General, US Army (Ret), Former Commander, Coalition Forces – Afghanistan, XVIII Airborne Corps, U.S. Forces Command, and International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan (ISAF)
“An on-the-ground, in-the-moment look – not from the battle-front but from the decision-makers tents and palaces. At times comical, at times insightful and always engaging, Kirk’s experiences show the myriad of issues Judge Advocates face in the zone of action provides fascinating insight into the tactical, strategic and even political features of modern combat.”-Thomas E. Ayres, Major General, U.S. Army (Ret), Former Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Army
"An illuminating and colorful telling of an Army JAG's contribution to the initial stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From battle preparation and targeting constraints, through mishaps and investigations, to identifying War Criminals, to Prisoner Operations of all types and sizes, to efforts to rebuild the Iraqi Courts and Judicial System, and loads of legal challenges in between, Colonel Warner provides a serious and realistic recounting, tempered with a Soldier's humor, on the essential role of his Judge Advocate Team supporting Commanders and Troops in major combat operations and the early reconstruction in Iraq. Highly recommended."
-Dan Wright, Major General, U.S. Army (Ret), Former Deputy Judge Advocate General