I have been reading Doug Feith’s book, War and Decision. Iraq has been so controversial that we have forgotten how successful we were in Afghanistan.
Less than a month after 9/11 we intiated the war in Afghanistan. There was no war plan in place before 9/11. The first Afghan city, Maza-e-Sharifa fell on Nov. 9, Kabul fell on Nov.13, Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold, fell on Dec. 7. By December Hamid Karzi was head of the provisional government.
This stunning success was accomplished with a U.S. force of less than 4,000.
Rumsfeld’s strategy was brilliant.
- He aimed to oust the Taliban, not just Al Qaeda.
- He minimized the U.S. footprint to avoid beiung an ‘occupation force.’
- He utilized the Northern Alliance and other native militias, using our precision strikes and special ops forces as critical support.
Rumsfeld was warned by the CIA against using the Northern Alliance since it could anger the Pushtins in the South. He felt the CIA assessment was wrong or avoidable and Rumsfeld was proven correct on the ground.
While the meetings at the time were highly confidential, leaks from the CIA made the press and gave a distorted picture of the strategy and planning that begat Rumsfeld’s success in Afghanistan. Maureen Dowd and Zbigniew Brzenski were criticizing the operation as a Viet Nam style quagmire when the operation was only a few weeks old. They were proven wrong in very short order.