Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OEF 10 years on

The factory-applied layer of silver polish had just about worn off my first set of eagles, when I was given command of Task Force Razor - not two weeks after the twin towers fell. Rummy gave me my orders in the executive bathroom of the White House of all places. There would be no records - I had to flush the orders after reading. The man stood there and watched as I did so. "We're not declaring war so anything goes" I was told. "Don't let torture, or the Geneva Convention stand in your way, but keep the civilian kill-count on the minimum because you never know who will be watching you, or if you will know who will be watching them watch you." Classic Rummy.

We deployed 'in country' on Sept 23rd 2001 and from then until mid '02 we did some crazy shit over there let me tell you. We took our commands from a company spook called "Smith" from the Special Activities Division. We marked the targets for the October 7th airstrikes, helped coordinate anti-Taliban forces on the ground with U.S. firepower from the air and generally eliminated anyone we found with a 'banana clip' at least until we found one that talked, or persuaded to do so later.

Some "influential" donkey senator got word that there was a rogue CIA op causing havoc in the Kandahar province and that their leader was called "د هغه سړي سره کوم روح" [the man with no soul]. We got shut down pretty quickly after that. Smith vanished and my team were absorbed into regular SpecOps forces under Col. Mulholland and I was sent stateside to assist the selection process fot MAR DET ONE. At that point the U.S. was trying to win the hearts and minds of the local populace to thwart the efforts of the insurgents and to be fair it wasn't helpful that we were accidentally shooting women and children every couple of months.

It's because I can remember it as yesterday is what makes it so hard to believe that President Obama marked the 10th anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom on Friday, honouring those who have served and noting their efforts toward bringing the war to a responsible end from a position of strength. Despite the tremendous losses of almost 1,800 American patriots, he noted progress in taking the fight against violence extremism to the source. “In delivering justice to Osama bin Laden and many other al-Qaida leaders, we are closer than ever to defeating al-Qaida and its murderous network,” he said in an address.

Personally I think enormous challenges remain it's certainly worth noting that the Taliban have been pushed out of their key strongholds, Afghan security forces are growing stronger and the Afghan people are in a better position to craft their own destiny if they can manage to hold onto the freedom and hope that the U.S. and coalition allies have brought them over the subsequent years.

Mulholland the aforementioned colonel is now a Lieutenant General and ending a tour as commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. “We’re moving toward an increased special operations role,” together with U.S. intelligence, he said, “whether it’s counterterrorism-centric, or counterterrorism blended with counterinsurgency.”

So basically while most American troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, the CIA and military special operations forces who were first to fight will also be the last to leave as they begin girding for the next great pivot of the campaign, as they continue to train and support the Afghans and closely observe if they have what it takes to keep their country above the mire of terrorism. That in itself is no small task and one that could stretch their war up to another decade.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense / Marine Corps Times

1 comment:

Former Grunt said...

Colonel. I think it's a serious oversight that Col. Mulholland got booted upstairs to Lt. General and head of Army SOC over the past 10 years; while your career has meandered sideways. A serious ovesight on the part of both the Bush and Obama administrations. I call foul.