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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The battle at Tora Bora

The New Republic has an excellent piece on the greatest failing in the "war on terror," Bin Laden's "escape" at Tora Bora.

Here's the key political passage.
A dispute was raging among officials about how to conduct the battle. By late November, Crumpton--a soft-spoken Georgian widely regarded as one of the most effective CIA officers of his generation--feared that bin Laden might try to escape Tora Bora. He explained this to Bush and Cheney personally at the White House and presented satellite imagery showing that the Pakistani military did not have its side of the border covered....

Crumpton says, “I remember the message. I remember talking not only to Gary every day, but to some of his men who were at Tora Bora. Directly. And their request could not have been more direct, more clear, more certain: that we needed U.S. troops there. More men on the ground.”...

Meanwhile, the additional forces that Crumpton and Berntsen were requesting were certainly available. There were around 2,000 U.S. troops in or near the Afghan theater at the time. At the U.S. airbase known as K2 in Uzbekistan were stationed some 1,000 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, whose specialty is fighting in harsh terrain....

In the end, there were more journalists--about 100, according to Nic Robertson of CNN and Susan Glasser of The Washington Post, who both covered the battle--in and around Tora Bora than there were Western soldiers.

In this version, Gen. Tommy Franks takes the fall for no more troops, but it's still a great, extremely detailed, and important read.


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