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Operation Pineapple Express

The Incredible Story of a Group of Americans Who Undertook One Last Mission and Honored a Promise in Afghanistan

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About The Book

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An edge-of-your-seat thriller about a group of retired Green Berets who come together to save a former comrade—and 500 other Afghans—being targeted by the Taliban in the chaos of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In April 2021, an urgent call was placed from a Special Forces operator serving overseas. The message was clear: Get Nezam out of Afghanistan now. Nezam was part of the Afghan National Army’s first group of American-trained commandos; he passed through Fort Bragg’s legendary Q course and served alongside the US Special Forces for over a decade. But Afghanistan’s government and army were on the edge of collapse, and Nezam was receiving threatening texts from the Taliban. The message reached Nezam’s former commanding officer, retired Lt. Col. Scott Mann, who couldn’t face the idea of losing another soldier in the long War on Terror. Immediately, he sends out an SOS to a group of Afghan vets (Navy SEALs, Green Berets, CIA officers, USAID advisors). They all answer the call for one last mission.

Operating out of basements and garages, Task Force Pineapple organizes an escape route for Nezam and gets him into hiding in Taliban-controlled Kabul. After many tense days, he braves the enemy checkpoints and the crowds of thousands blocking the airport gates. He finally makes it through the wire and into the American-held airport thanks to the frantic efforts of the Pineapple express, a relentless Congressional aide, and a US embassy official. Nezam is safe, but calls are coming in from all directions requesting help for other Afghan soldiers, interpreters, and at-risk women and children. Task Force Pineapple widens its scope—and ends up rescuing 500 more Afghans from Kabul in the three chaotic days before the ISIS-K suicide bombing. Operation Pineapple Express is a thrilling, suspenseful tale of service and loyalty amidst the chaos of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Excerpt

Prologue PROLOGUE KABUL—AUGUST 19, 2021
Nezam stacked a few bricks and squirted lighter fluid on some wood chips. He clicked open a Zippo and lit the pile. Flames jumped up in a small fire.

Morning light was just beginning to spread over the neighborhood; the power had been off all night. At one point, he had sat in his uncle’s car in the dark, his powered-down iPhone plugged into the charger. The sporadic choppa of Kalashnikov rifles had subsided. The silence was eerie.

His phone was still off as he huddled by the fire. One at a time, he fed sheets of paper into the flames. With all the cooking fires in the neighborhood, the smoke wouldn’t draw attention. The papers were colorfully adorned with commando crests, Afghan and American flags, skulls pierced with daggers, scorpions, helicopters, rifles. They praised Nezam in English or Dari. They were signed by commanders—no last names. SF Dave. Captain Rob. There was the Defense Language Institute English course. Commando Kandak Certificates of Achievement. Letters of recommendation from a 75th Ranger Regiment battalion commander.

It was Nezam’s life that was going up in flames. It was everything the Afghan National Army recruiter in Takhar had told him he was too small to be. It was everything that made him stand tall against his corrupt uncle back home. It was what the fat mess hall sergeant had tried to lock him away from becoming.

In a way, however, maybe they’d been right. They were just looking at it the wrong way. It wasn’t Nezam who couldn’t do it—it was Afghanistan.

The papers burned. But they were only symbols.

He was still an elite special operator.

Besides, he had copies. He’d uploaded the documents to a cloud account belonging to several of his U.S. friends, just in case.

But then Nezam pulled out his graduation certificate from the Q Course at Fort Bragg. And the orders authorizing him to wear the blue and gold “long tab” emblazoned with SPECIAL FORCES.

I can’t do it, he thought.

He folded up this and a few other original American documents, tucked them deep in his shirt, and poured water over the embers. Black smoke wafted skyward. Looking up, he noticed an old mujahideen staring at him from beyond a row of hedges twenty-five feet away. One of the neighborhood guys he played chess with. Did he see me burning papers? Does he know who I am?

Nezam smiled and placed his right hand over his heart, the common greeting among Afghans, waiting for a reaction. The mujahideen slowly lifted his palm to his own chest, a silent salaam, and shuffled out of sight.

The old warrior had given his blessing.

A few moments later, Nezam powered on his phone. A flood of messages popped up, ones that had been sent hours earlier.

One caught his eye.

MULLAH MIKE

Brother, it’s time to go.

About The Author

Scott Dentinger

Lt. Col. Scott Mann is a retired Green Beret with over twenty-two years of Army and Special Operations experience around the world. He has deployed to Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is the CEO of Rooftop Leadership and the founder of a 501c3 committed to helping veterans tell their stories in transition. Scott regularly speaks to and trains corporate leaders, law enforcement, and special operations forces on best practices for going local and making better human connections. Scott has frequent appearances on Fox News, CNN, and other national platforms as a thought leader on countering violent extremism, building organizational relationships, and restoring trust in our communities. He is also an actor and playwright who has written a play about the war called Last Out—Elegy of a Green Beret on Amazon Prime.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 7, 2023)
  • Length: 432 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668003640

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Raves and Reviews

Operation Pineapple Express is a true story that reads like a thriller—and along the way proves that guts and resourcefulness and honor did not vanish with America’s “Greatest Generation.” From one of my favorite writers, retired Green Beret Scott Mann, this tale of Yanks putting it all on the line for their former Afghan comrades is a must-read for all of us in today’s polarized U.S.A.

—Steven Pressfield, best-selling author of Gates of Fire and The War of Art

When I first learned of Lt. Col. Scott Mann’s mission to rescue those left behind in Afghanistan, I was moved and inspired, yet heartbroken. In seeing him interviewed about his efforts with Operation Pineapple Express, the tremendously powerful story he shares with us here, I could see he was a man of great integrity and passion: a truly great American tireless in his commitment to try to correct a tragic moral injustice. When I met Scott, all that was confirmed. I am grateful to know him, and I recommend this important book to all our fellow Americans.

—Gary Sinise, award-winning actor and best-selling author of Grateful American

Operation Pineapple Express is a story for all Americans. A superbly written account of the war in Afghanistan and the harrowing aftermath at a pivotal point. It embodies the truest definitions of service, sacrifice, and honor—just like the warrior who wrote it. Lt. Col. Scott Mann honors all who fought—including the brave interpreters that helped us speak the language to fight and win.

—Major Scott A. Huesing, USMC (Ret), best-selling author of Echo in Ramadi

In Operation Pineapple Express, Scott Mann takes readers on a raw and intensely riveting journey that showcases an enduring spirit of commitment, limitless bravery, and unwavering honor. Mann’s narrative brilliantly captures the essence of the conflict in Afghanistan and the dedicated individuals who stepped up in its darkest hour. This is a testament to the shared bonds of humanity that transcend borders and politics, underscoring a powerful message of hope and resilience. An absolute must-read.

—Ahmad Massoud, commander of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan

Scott Mann wisely avoids the rote political debates that surround the Afghan War. Operation Pineapple Express is a deeply human, emotional story; one of the most intense and suspenseful books I’ve read in a long time. What’s so resonant is that Mann digs into universal themes of love, loss, triumph, and regret. And attempts to answer the question: How far is one willing to go to fulfill a promise?

—Basil Iwanyk, producer of Sicario and the John Wick franchise

In the final days of America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, a small team of retired Special Forces led by Lt. Col. Scott Mann did what their government failed to do: keep a promise to an Afghan who had earned the coveted Green Beret badge and had fought alongside them for two decades. Working the phones and chat rooms from their homes and garages around the country, this extraordinary group of soldiers volunteered for one last mission and succeeded. The story of the Pineapple Express should not be lost in the recounting of the United States’s epic failure in Afghanistan.

—Peter Bergen, bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden

Scott Mann weaves an incredible tapestry of perspectives in Operation Pineapple Express. As a guy who witnessed the beginning of the Fall of Afghanistan gnashing my teeth at home on my couch and the end of it with my feet on the ground in Kabul loading planes, it was obvious how much effort Scott put into accurately describing, not just his own perspective mobilizing the team and leading the effort of Task Force Pineapple, but in placing himself in the shoes of those involved in every other facet. This book is a masterclass in storytelling.

—Nick Palmisciano, co-author of the best-selling Scars and Stripes

Scott Mann’s Operation Pineapple Express is a must read for every American. One Green Beret’s mission to “Keep the Promise” in the aftermath of the catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal epitomizes honor and valor.

—John Ondrasik, the singer-songwriter Five for Fighting

My son was killed in action on October 5, 2010, in Afghanistan. Though I never ever questioned the value of my son’s death in serving our nation and the people of Afghanistan, I know some did, especially after the catastrophic fall in August 2021. The story of Operation Pineapple Express, immeasurably comforted and reassured me that there are still heroes who care. Every person should read this story and learn about these heroes.

—Holly Higgins, Gold Star mother

A pulsing and cinematic piece of our nation’s history. Scott Mann’s access allows a rare glimpse of true heroes wading across the Rubicon.

—Jason Hall, screenwriter and executive producer of American Sniper

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