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by Seymour M Hersh
Thursday, Nov. 08, 2001 at 12:41 AM
From the legendary war correspondent... After General Myers dismissed this report (surprise, surprise), I saw Hersh on TV saying he expected as much and so did the military officers involved in the mission, which is exactly why they came to him with this information.
ESCAPE AND EVASION
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
What happened when the Special Forces landed in Afghanistan?
Early on the morning of Saturday, October 20th, more than a hundred Army Rangers parachuted into a Taliban-held airbase sixty miles southwest of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. A military cameraman videotaped the action with the aid of a night-vision lens, and his grainy, green-tinted footage of determined commandos and billowing parachutes dominated the television news that night. The same morning, a second Special Operations unit, made up largely of Rangers and a reinforced Delta Force squadron, struck at a complex outside Kandahar which included a house used by Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader.
In a Pentagon briefing later that day, General Richard B. Myers, of the Air Force, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported that the Special Operations Forces "were able to deploy, maneuver, and operate inside Afghanistan without significant interference from Taliban forces." He stated that the soldiers did meet resistance at both sites, but overcame it. "I guess you could characterize it as light," he said. "For those experiencing it, of course, it was probably not light." He concluded, "The mission over all was successful. We accomplished our objectives."
Myers also told reporters that the commandos were "refitting and repositioning for potential future operations against terrorist targets" in Afghanistan. But at a second briefing, two days later, he refused to say whether commando operations would continue. "Some things are going to be visible, some invisible," he said.
Myers did not tell the press that, in the wake of a near-disaster during the assault on Mullah Omar's complex, the Pentagon was rethinking future Special Forces operations inside Afghanistan. Delta Force, which prides itself on stealth, had been counterattacked by the Taliban, and some of the Americans had had to fight their way to safety. Twelve Delta members were wounded, three of them seriously.
Delta Force has long complained about a lack of creativity in the Army leadership, but the unexpectedness and the ferocity of the Taliban response "scared the crap out of everyone," a senior military officer told me, and triggered a review of commando tactics and procedures at the United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, at MacDill Air Force Base, in Florida, the headquarters for the war in Afghanistan. "This is no war for Special Operations," one officer said
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