on the ground
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On the Ground
On the Ground: Map

This map details major battles and confrontations in the first four months of the military campaign in Afghanistan, with links to accounts from soldiers on the ground.

Fighting on Two Fronts: A Chronology

Timeline of key military events and diplomatic maneuvers in the first four months of the campaign against terror, which concluded with the collapse of the Taliban regime and the creation of a new government in Afghanistan.

Working with the Warlords

The first phase of the war in Afghanistan entailed small teams of Special Forces soldiers working on the ground with local militia forces opposed to the Taliban. Here, the U.S. soldiers describe what it was like to fight side by side with the Afghani commanders.

war stories

In these excerpts from their interviews with FRONTLINE, U.S. Special Forces soldiers recount their most memorable moments on the ground in Afghanistan.

The Battle Of Tarin Kowt

At Tarin Kowt, the eleven members of U.S. Special Forces A-team 574, with a few dozen Afghani fighters, called in airstrikes to defeat a convoy of hundreds of Taliban forces on their way to attack the village where Hamid Karzai was based. It was a pivotal battle, and a crushing psychological blow for the Taliban. Team Captain Jason Amerine tells the story.

Friendly Fire

On December 5, 2001, a misdirected U.S. bomb exploded near the village of Shawali Kowt north of Kandahar, killing 3 U.S. soldiers and at least 23 of Hamid Karzai's Afghani fighters. Dozens more were wounded, and an investigation into the cause of the incident continues. Special Forces soldiers who were there describe the tragic accident for FRONTLINE.

The Fall Of Kandahar

The fall of Kandahar signaled the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Many key Taliban leaders escaped, however, during negotiations for the surrender of the city. Here, U.S. Special Forces on the ground with Hamid Karzai describe the push towards Kandahar, and the final surrender.

Assault On Tora Bora

After the Taliban regime was defeated, the military turned its focus to mountainous region of Tora Bora, where it was believed that Osama bin Laden was holed up in fortified caves, along with Taliban and Al Qaeda troops. Special Forces soldiers working with local warlords describe the assault on the caves, and military commanders defend against charges that the operation was a failure, because insufficient troops on the ground to root out bin Laden.

related links
Strategy and Weaponry

This site, maintained by the Federation of American Scientists, contains a list of weapons used in the war on terrorism by U.S. forces and the Taliban. [Federation of American Scientists, Last updated: Jan. 10, 2002]

Escape and Evasion

"In the wake of a near-disaster during the assault on Mullah Omar's complex, the Pentagon was rethinking future Special Forces operations inside Afghanistan." [The New Yorker, Nov. 12, 2001]

The Warlord

"On the anti-Taliban front lines with Mamur Hassan, who has been at war for over twenty years." [The New Yorker, Oct. 22, 2001]

The Assassins

"Who was involved in the murder of Ahmed Shah Massoud?" [The New Yorker, June 10, 2002]

The Pashtun Code

"Roughly half in Pakistan, half in Afghanistan, the Pashtun are as troublesome today to anyone in search of a neat political order as they were when the British contended with this last unsubdued corner of the empire. Their loyalties have never been more in doubt or more important." [The New Yorker, Dec. 3, 2001]

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