Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, a former Delta Force commander who CBS’s 60 Minutes once dubbed “the Holy Warrior,” is a no-nonsense counterterrorist expert whom the television newsmagazine also said, “has probably seen as much combat as anyone in uniform.”
Indeed he has; having fought with and led soldiers and special operators in several American wars, military expeditions, and clandestine operations since the Vietnam War. He was badly wounded during the invasion of Grenada. He went on to become commander of Delta Force, and was commanding Delta during the bloody battle of Mogadishu. He served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. He’s the author of the just-released novel, “Danger Close.” And he’s an outspoken and unapologetic Christian, who believes America can succeed in the war on terror, but some serious mistakes – not the least of which is a public ignorance of who the enemy is – must be corrected.
This week we sat down with Boykin and discussed everything from Afghanistan to the proposed mosque near ‘ground zero’ in New York.
W. Thomas Smith Jr.: Recent reports indicate that the Taliban in Afghanistan is stronger than ever and U.S. forces in that country are starved for resources. I’d like to get your thoughts on that. Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin: I don’t know that the Taliban is stronger than ever. But I’ll give you some generalities to think about. First, in those areas controlled by the U.S. – and even those controlled by the UK – the Taliban is not stronger than it previously has been, because the U.S. has been very aggressive in pursuing the Taliban, and also helping to build the infrastructure and work on economic development in those areas under U.S. control.
The Taliban has gained some strength in areas controlled by other NATO nations or coalition partners. That’s because those countries have not been aggressive. They’ve been reluctant to aggressively pursue the Taliban.
In my view, that is one of the big problems today.
When we made the transition to NATO, we brought in countries that came with national caveats.
Those countries came in with a set of rules-of-engagement that applied only to them, and in many cases those ROE told them to stay inside their bases, don’t go out and pursue the Taliban. It’s an issue of being risk averse in terms of casualties. So the Taliban may have resurged in some of those areas, and probably has, and has been able to operate fairly freely in those areas.
Smith: Can we win the war in Afghanistan?