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November 29, 2009
Over Tora BoraBy Greyhawk
"The plan was to send the Afghan forces into the Tora Bora Mountains to assault AQ positions located in well-protected canyons, with the ODA in observation posts. The latest intelligence placed senior AQ leaders, including UBL, squarely in Tora Bora. Directing joint fires and various groups of Afghans toward AQ positions, COBRA 25 hoped to either capture or destroy UBL and his AQ followers..."
A shocking headline in the New York Daily News: Bush adminstration could've captured terrorist Osama Bin Laden in December 2001: Senate report.
A remarkable coincidence also noted by the New York Times: "Its release comes just as the Obama administration is preparing to announce an increase in forces in Afghanistan."
The committee report, prepared at the request of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the committee's Democratic chairman, concludes unequivocally that in mid-December 2001, Mr. bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were at the cave complex, where Mr. bin Laden had operated previously during the fight against Soviet forces.
Its release also comes at the eighth anniversary of the events described - and the fifth anniversary of John Kerry's failed run for President of the United States. During his campaign one of the centerpiece slogans of his foreign policy position was "outsourcing the war on terror" - and Tora Bora was the example.
"I would not take my eye off of the goal: Osama bin Laden," Kerry boasted during his first debate with President George Bush in September, 2004:
"Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had him surrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill him. The president relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too. That's wrong."
"When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped." Kerry reminded Americans during the third debate two weeks later. And he rarely missed an opportunity to assure Americans that only he could keep them safe from the constant threat of imminent danger posed by the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
So perhaps Senator Kerry's newly commissioned, taxpayer-funded report isn't that new or surprising after all. "The Foreign Relations Committee's report draws on previous accounts, including books by two C.I.A. officers, Gary Berntsen and Gary Schroen, and by a commander in the Army's elite Delta Force who goes by the pen name Dalton Fury," reports the Times - which means it probably reads a lot like the Wikipedia article on Tora Bora, too.
But back to the NY Times for another source:
The report, based in part on a little-noticed 2007 history of the Tora Bora episode by the military's Special Operations Command, asserts that the consequences of not sending American troops in 2001 to block Mr. bin Laden's escape into Pakistan are still being felt.
As are the consequences of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Treaty of Versailles, and John Kerry's rejection by American voters. (That last, perhaps, most dramatically in the mind of John Kerry.)
Folks might debate Tora Bora for years to come. Certainly for the rest of his life John Kerry will never miss an opportunity to explain at length to all who will listen how Bush lost the war on terror. But it's undeniably a shame if the military account of the battle included in the United States Special Operations Command History is indeed little-noticed, and here in Mudville we believe we should do our bit to correct that - starting here.
A quick background from the same book (more to follow later). The story begins with the fall of Kabul: "When the Northern Alliance soldiers attacked on 13 November, the enemy defenses crumbled, and on the next day, to the surprise of the world press, General Fahim Khan's ground forces liberated Kabul without incident. The Taliban and al Qaeda forces had fled in disarray toward Kandahar in the south and into the sanctuary of the Tora Bora Mountains to the east near Jalalabad..."
The story continues here.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 29, 2009 10:42 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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