Before Operation Enduring Freedom

To know what lead to Operation Enduring Freedom you must be familiar with Afghan history.  The key perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were not Afghan, or Taliban.  They attackers were all international terrorists from Al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda’s ranks were filled with those involved in global jihad.  Mostly from Saudi Arabia, an estimated 62% were university graduates.  However, the Taliban was an entirely different military force.

Before 2001, Afghanistan lacked infrastructure.  Much its terrain is mountainous.  Only one paved highway runs through the country’s center.  The urban life is almost non-existent, with the exception of Kandahar and Kabul.

Soviets crossing the Russian Afghan border to mark the beginning of the invasion Marine Long Sleeve Shirts Corps Hats

Soviets crossing the Russian/Afghan border to mark their invasion and a ten year war.

Afghanistan was at war for 20 years prior to 2001 with the Soviet Union.  The war lasted from 1979 to 1989.  Afghanistan’s geography was it’s undoing.  The area was caught in a geo-political battle for hundreds of years.  The British Empire fought 3 separate wars before OEF preemptively against the Russian’s.  As the Cold War was at its peak, the Soviet Union made its own move preemptively.  The Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan on ground of a Communist coup.

Afghanistan was a battle ground.  The United States covertly pumped a lot of money and arms to fund anti-Soviet resistance.  The result was a war that the Russians could not win.  After 10 years of draining its manpower and resources, the Soviets withdrew.  Before they did, they brokered a diplomatic agreement with the West to withdraw their support.

The country was torn in many different directions, demolished by warfare.  Furthermore, many of the weapons from both sides were now in Afghan hands.  This was a recipe for disaster, as much inter-tribal conflict existed in Afghanistan then.  Also, many Afghans fled the country to Pakistan when the Soviets were invading.  Much of them became radicalized in Pakistan before returning.

Precursor to War

Many Mujahideen fighters fought viscously between themselves.  Lawlessness ensued as there was no real government.  The Taliban swept through and changed that.  Lead by an anti-Soviet fighter named Mullah Muhammed Omar.  The Taliban was able rise to power through out all the chaos by bringing their own form of justice.  As the Taliban pushed out Mujahideen from local villages they brought Sharia’a Law.  Sharia’a Law is a strict interpretation of the Quran, almost Islamo-Fascist.  They were able to rise to power, much like Adolf Hitler, through the chaos and confusion of the people.  Kabul was in Taliban hands during 1996.  Only two years after rising to power.

Amad Shah Massoud Marine Long Sleeve Shirts Corps Hats

Amad Shah Massoud, The Lion of Panjshir

Afghanistan was may have been in Taliban hands, yet the war was not over.  One of the most prominent fighters against the Soviets was Ahmad Shah Massoud.  Or the Lion of Panjshir.  He was a well known figure in Afghanistan.  A renown tactician, he was able to draw many victories against a numerically superior foe.  Furthermore, although he was aTajik, the Lion of Pansjir was a beloved hero amongst all Afghans.

Ahamad Shah Massoud was a key figure in Afghanistan.  He fought the Mujahideen and was now fighting the Taliban for the preservation of Afghanistan.  All the way to his assassination on September 9th, 2001.  Only two days before one of the largest terrorist attacks in US history.  It was no doubt that Massoud was the Taliban’s biggest enemy.  He had to be taken out for Al Qaeda to run freely in Afghanistan.  Most noteworthy, Ahmed Shah Massoud gave a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels only months before being assassinated.  He warned of the dangers of Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground for terrorism if they lost the civil war.  No one could have foreseen what happened next.

Consequences of Terror

When the Twin Towers collapsed the world was in shock.  However the United States acted swiftly in ordering Mullah Muhammed Omar to hand over Osama Bin Laden.  He refused.  Within 33 days the Taliban and Al Qaeda felt the full wrath of the United States of America.  October 7th, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom had officially commenced.  Many elements of our nation’s combined-arms would make their presence felt in Afghanistan.  This would include Scout Snipers, LAVs, Rotary-Wing, and more.