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October 09, 2004


Bill Arnold

I remember using Afghans to deliver the Coup de Grace as a what-the-F-is-our-military-thinking moment. And I'm a agnostic quaker, no military background. The quaker side of the family saw the Afghanistan campaign as a legimate police action, in the literal sense of rounding up/killing the serial mass murderers based there and (basically) paying rent to the Taliban. (They thought the reconstruction was way too underdone, for whatever it's worth.)

And yes, not managing to kill OBL or managing some sort of DNA-smear-proof of death is a failure. I don't buy the "our leaders probably killed him but don't want to make him a martyr" line. The wily "americans can't kill me" reputation he has had (dead or alive) has probably (no evidence) been an effective recruiting tool.

Tired of hearing Kerry bring it up almost word for word though. I wish he would at least vary his delivery.

Patrick R. Sullivan

In fact, the conventional wisdom was, don't send large numbers of foreign troops into Afghanistan's "brutal winter".

The terrain is just about impossible for other than natives to operate in at Tora Bora, and the weather wasn't cooperating in the use of our air power. And besides, who says we didn't kill him. I haven't seen any Osama's Greatest Hits videos lately.

But, I really liked this from the 2002 article:

'Asked who should be held accountable for the Tora Bora strategy, Mr. Kerry points to the president. "If you are the skipper of the ship, and the ship runs aground while you are asleep in your stateroom, you are relieved of duty, no excuse," he said."'

Didn't Steve Gardener have a story about a skipper of a Swift Boat who was not at his duty station one night, and people died on a Sampan as a result?

Cecil Turner

"I remember using Afghans to deliver the Coup de Grace as a what-the-F-is-our-military-thinking moment. And I'm a agnostic quaker, no military background."

Most military decisions are based on logistics. Trying to move a large military force into Afghanistan (where everything has to be flown in, over vast distances and marginally friendly nations, with limited airfields) is difficult. Getting them to Tora Bora (not the end of the Earth, but you can see it from there), and keeping them in supply, is more so. It's also forbidding terrain, and a lousy climate.

They probably should have tried harder to get in more US troops. But there's no way they could have gotten enough to make an airtight cordon. Using local troops was a very effective way of getting more troops there fast, and there still weren't enough to seal the area, even if all their loyalties had been undivided.

Second-guessing is fine. But if armchair strategists want to apportion blame, they should first submit their own complete operations order, and let the professionals pick it apart.


Dammit, FDR should've been relieved after Crutchley failed to ready his cruisers for Mikawa's attack near Savo Island. And how could they leave FDR in office after Halsey chased Ozawa's diversion and left the Leyte landing areas and jeep carriers at the mercy of Japan's Center Force? Geez.

Trying to make the reasonable, on-the-run prosecution of one aspect of the Afghan campaign by professional military officers a political issue breaks the Stupid Meter with more force than anything else in Kerry's "campaign" -- and that's saying something. With 3 whole weeks left, who knows, maybe we can look forward to Kerry's stable of bizarre "military advisors" second-guessing the targeting of Fallujah safehouses, or offering tips on which guys to pat down at Green Zone checkpoints .... ("no, not that one, THAT one!").

I recall that LBJ's target-list reviews during Vietnam (didn't Kerry serve there?) worked out real well.


The whole F-ing war was "outsourced" to Afghan warlords, and for damn good reason (think USSR-Afghanistan war). The difference was the Northern Alliance did the heavy lifting with US SpecOps and Air support collapsing the Taliban government. When the Taliban fled South, there was a problem. The Northern Alliance warlords weren't welcome there and the Southern warlords were untested and less trustworthy. Despite that, they fought and fought hard. Were there deals on the side and did some in Tora Bora slip through? Probably.

The resulting criticism of not getting UBL at Tora Bora, even though there was about as much evidence he was there as there was Iraq had stockpiles of WMD, made the Anaconda op a US heavy troop mission. Remember that? Ambush. Pinned down.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, some senior Pentagon officials think there were holes in the U.S. dragnet late last year when Osama bin Laden appeared to be surrounded but eluded capture. It was a lesson the U.S. military thought it learned in Operation Anaconda, which it says is a success, even though it can't say how many enemy forces were killed or how many got away -- Aaron.


The number one reason this is such an asinine argument is that it makes OBL out to be some kind of superhuman fugitive terror master, which he is not. He is just a man, one of many who participated in and bankrolled the 9-11 attacks. His bankroll has shrunk to zero and, he is now just an ordinary guy on the run.

If he is alive, the idea that he could be easily found if we just invested the resources is abject numbskullery. It took 5 years to catch Eric Rudolph in the hills of North Carolina, right here in our own country, despite one of the most massive FBI manhunts ever.

The fact of the matter is, though, that there is just as much evidence that he is dead as there is that Iraq had no WMD, which is to say, there is only absence of evidence. I do not for a minute believe that the publicity hound we saw giving his little tinpot lectures during the initial phases of the Afghanistan campaign could have clammed up this long for any reason other than being dead.

The usefulness of knowing he is dead when nobody else does would be immeasurable. Every time some jacked-up terrorist tried to get in touch with him, they'd be vulnerable to our eyes and ears. Disinformation planted as to his whereabouts would bring the terrorists flocking into a great big mousetrap. I think the gov't knows he is dead.


So, does it ever bug warbloggers that their guy woould rather walk on hot coals than say the name of the guy responsible for 9/11? With this matter, as in many others, Bush's failure wouldn't be so bad if he was willing to address it.

Cecil Turner

"So, does it ever bug warbloggers that their guy woould rather walk on hot coals than say the name of the guy responsible for 9/11?"

Umm, no. Though I guess it'd be less entertaining to be deprived of gems like this one: "Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden." Personally, I'd prefer he not attempt the exercise at all.

But Bush is correct that Osama is not the point, and excessive focus on a backward-looking (revenge/law enforcement) strategy is faulty. The following statement is valid (though again not particularly eloquent):

My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves.

Mr. Bowen

As if there was a shortage of hatred for America, and UBL had to manufacture it. Pfft.


We did not have any troops available..I believe we only had 1,000 Marines in Kandahar at the time.

Also, our "mountain" troops kept getting altitude sickness.

Wish I had links for this.

Thomas J. Jackson

Funny as I recall the military accomplished what the Soviets couldn't do in ten years and lost tens of thousands in the process. Kerry no doubt has a better plan-RETREAT, APPEASE, SURRENDER.


Why didn't Kerry, the hero of Cambodia go to Tora Bora himself and get OBL?

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