HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- To Americans of my generation and older, the Korean War is the "Forgotten War." For this generation, it's Afghanistan -- or to be precise, Operation Enduring Freedom.
This seven-year-long campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban in the shadow of the Hindu Kush didn't start out as a "forgotten war." On Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom began with a salvo of Tomahawk cruise missiles and raids by B-1s, B-2s, B-52s and waves of carrier-based aircraft. For the next month, the entire world was riveted as Afghan Northern Alliance troops -- bolstered by U.S. special operations forces and CIA teams -- swept south toward Kabul.
The November liberation of the capital was an international press event. When the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit landed at Forward Operating Base Rhino on Nov. 25 to cut Taliban/al-Qaida escape routes into Pakistan, reporters clamored to cover the operation. For the next 16 months, most of the so-called mainstream media provided at least some regular coverage of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Then came Iraq. The start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in March 2003, created a virtual news vacuum in Afghanistan, and it has been pretty much like that ever since. Though there have been brief moments of media interest -- such as the Oct. 9, 2004, election that brought President Hamid Karzai to power -- the potentates of the press have largely ignored developments in Afghanistan and focused on predictions of disaster in Mesopotamia.
Let's hope that is about to change. Success in Iraq is now an undeniable reality. Here in Afghanistan, the NATO international security force's commander, U.S. Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, is calling for more troops to launch a vigorous offensive against a resurgent Taliban. Here in southern Helmand province, it has begun already.
For the past week, our Fox News' "War Stories" team has been embedded with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- a Marine Air-Ground Task Force deployed from Camp Lejeune, N.C. We're now at Combat Outpost "Bravo" with Weapons Company of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines -- a unit we last accompanied in Ramadi, Iraq, in December 2006. The following accounts are from dispatches we have filed since rejoining this "band of brothers" in the new "forgotten war." --Garmsir, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2008:
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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