WASHINGTON -- Ten years ago this week, America went to war in Afghanistan. At 1 p.m. Eastern time on Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush told the world, "On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan." At the conclusion of his seven-minute broadcast from the White House Treaty Room, he pledged: "The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail." Now, a decade later, his successor will determine whether that pledge is kept.
The fight that began just 26 days after the 9/11 terror attacks started with nearly simultaneous raids on Taliban air defenses, command, control and communications nodes, and al-Qaida bases by sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, B-1 and B-52 bombers from Diego Garcia, and U.S. Navy and Marine aircraft operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea. B-2 Spirit stealth bombers conducted scores of 14,000-mile-round-trip missions from their bases in Missouri, dropping precision-guided munitions on Taliban and al-Qaida positions. From bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the CIA's Special Activities Division and U.S. special operations personnel entered Afghanistan to support Northern Alliance troops intent on unseating the Taliban. On Nov. 12, they liberated Kabul.
Thirteen days later, SAD officer Johnny "Mike" Spann -- a former U.S. Marine captain -- became the first American to die at the hands of the enemy in Afghanistan. He was shot and killed during an uprising at a Taliban detention center near Mazar-e-Sharif after interrogating an American jihadist, named John Walker Lindh. Since then, more than 1,700 Americans have been killed in action or died of wounds inflicted in Afghanistan. Other Americans, such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Adam Gadahn, became radical Islamists and joined the jihad. And now, commander in chief Barack Obama -- who once called Afghanistan "the necessary war" -- simply wants to abandon the fight and get out. Apparently, most of our countrymen agree.
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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