April 22, 2013

Tora Bora, A Mountain Too Far

Tora Bora. We didn’t get Bin Laden because we couldn’t.

WHAT!!! I thought we didn’t get Bin Laden because we mistakenly trusted the Afghans to do what they had promised, and we ignored very competent men on the ground who wanted to commit available US forces to the rear of Tora Bora to block Bin Laden’s escape.


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About the Author

served over 20 years as an Infantry officer in Europe, the Middle East, Korea and Latin America. He has extensive experience in both light Infantry and mechanized warfare to include combat. He was selected to serve as a TAC at West Point and his final assignment was to the Infantry’s Battle Lab conducting research on tomorrow’s Infantry force. He concentrated in National Security at West Point, holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Leadership Development and is a graduate of the Combined Arms General Staff College. Born and raised in a tough section of New York City, Will lost his accent in the Army but kept the attitude. Read more from Will at http://gruntsandco.com/

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  • RVN SF VET

    majrodRVN SF VETThere is so much I disagree with, I am going to try to insert ALL CAPS remarks within your comment. "LOL!  I thought you didn't want to debate inaccurate crap but your back!  Hmmmm, must not be that inaccurate... I'm not the amazing one.And I’ve been sticking to the point the whole time.Its been jabbing you in the ribs.:) YOU TOTALLY DISTORTED THE DESERT SHIELD CHRONOLOGY WHICH WAS CLEARLY AVAILABLE TO YOU IN THE URL THAT YOU FURNISHED. EVERY SUPPORTING ASSET YOU MENTIONED ARRIVED BY SEA AND AIR WAY LATER.  WHEN YOU SAID THAT THEY WERE THERE TO SUPPORT THE INITIAL 82ND DEPLOYMENT, I WAS BEING KIND TO SUGGEST YOU WERE USING "INACCURATE CRAP." I COULD HAVE SAID THAT YOU WERE LYING. BUT THAT WOULD ME THAT YOU CONSCIOUSLY DISTORTED REALITY. I introduced airflow in response to you implying I think Airborne ops are ineffective.Now you want to make some correlation for risk? OK, putting 920 paratroopers in a friendly country EIGHT DAYS AFTER* Iraqis had invaded Kuwait WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? THE IRAQIS WERE OVER THE BORDER AND WERE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF ROLLING OVER THAT BORDER! LATER THEY PROBED OVER THE BORDER AND THE MARINES ENGAGED THEM. ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT THE 82ND WAS IN NO DANGER? TELL IT TO THE MEMBERS OF THE *2ND WHO REFERRED TO THEMSELVES AS A SPEED BUMP. YOU SURE AS HELL DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT IS A THREAT AND WHAT IS'NT. is a “tad” different than dropping them behind enemy lines ARE YOU CRAZY? DROPPING AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE IS IN FRONT OF "ENEMY LINES".  AN ENEMY THAT COULD NOT COME OUT AND ROLL OVER THEM! because “maybe” Bin Laden was there (based on what we knew THEN).Apples are red & smooth, oranges, dimply and orange. BTW as a testament to "logistics" even in a totally permissive environment with roads, busses and trucks it took those 920 men 60 hours (2.5 days) to move to Al Jubayl which is 100miles from the Kuwait border (not a recon of the border). THE CORPS MISSION ORDER WAS RECON. THEY WERE IN AN ASSEMBLY AREA AND CORPS DETERMINED WHEN THEY WERE TO MOVE OUT. Hardly at risk of being overrun by Iraqi tanks. WHO THE HELL DETERMINED THAT? YOU? I'M SURE THE 82ND WOULD HAVE TAKEN GREAT COMFORT FROM YOUR ESTIMATE OF THE SITUATION. Besides the two squadrons of F15s (50) DID THEY HAVE GROUND ATTACK WEAPONS WITH THEM? I DOUBT IT. and a partial squadron of F16’s present, on 11 Aug, (day after the 920 paratroopers set up 100 miles from the Kuwait border) VULNERABLE FOR A DAY IS JUST AS BAD AS FOR A MONTH. 7 B52’s launched from the states each loaded with 45 750lb bombs. WHEN? WHAT WAS THEIR MISSION? WHAT IS THE URL FOR THIS INFORMATION? DID THE 82ND HAVE A CCT TEAM OR TEAMS WITH THEM? The paratroopers were not out in the “cold” per se. Google and Maps can be a friend. DROPPING AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE WAS AS CLOSE TO AN ADMIN JUMP AS ONE COULD GET IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.  THERE WAS NO THREAT TO THEM UNTIL THEY MOVED FORWARD TO CONTACT. IN SO DOING, THEY WOULD HAVE TO GET PAST ABOUT 100 US AND FOREIGN JOURNALISTS. THAT WAS THEIR MOST HOSTILE THREAT BEFORE MOVEMENT TO CONTACT. YOU ARE COMPARING GRAPEFRUITS TO CHERRIES. You have a tendency when unable to contest the issues raise my conventional background as a weakness but you’re unable to counter my points SEE ABOVE. REMEMBER, IN YOUR FIRST RESPONSE YOU TOTALLY DISTORTED REALITY. NOW, YOU HAVE BEEN FORCED TO READ YOUR OWN SOURCE AND TRY TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE. YOU ARE NOT ABSOLVED OF YOUR SINS. YOU TAKE UP A LOT OF SPACE PAPERING OVER YOUR OWN BULLSHIT. AND THEN YOU WONDER WHY I GET TIRED OF CORRECTING YOUR BULL.  even simple ones like we didn’t have conclusive evidence Bin Laden was at Tora Bora until after Tora Bora was over. HAVE YOU GOT THAT ON A DVD? YES, WE ALL KNOW OF YOUR MANTRA AND DESIRE FOR CERTAINTY. WHY DID RUMSFELD ASK IF THEY HAD KILLED HIM YET ON EACH DAY OF THE TORA BORA BATTLE? THAT'S FROM YOUR FAVORITE GENERAL. IS HE NOW A LIAR. THAT WAS DURING THE BATTLE. YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOUR CENTCOM BUDDIES. That would seem a valid data point to the casual observer in order to make a decision. I understand why you have little appreciation of the impact of logistics, strategic planning, the dynamic between civil –military organizations and the decision making process necessary to justify ALL major deployments.It’s not a conventional vs. special ops perspective though from your limited perspective it must seem that way. ALTHOUGH I WORKED IN OSD AND DA, YOU ARE RIGHT. ALL THE CRAP YOU MENTION DOES NOT APPLY TO A REQUEST OF TROOPS IN CONTACT IN AN EFFORT ALREADY BLESSED BY THE NCA. PRESIDENT BUSH GAVE AN ORDER TO GET UBL. WE HAD A CHANCE BASED ON DECENT EVIDENCE. THE COST AND RISK OF PARACHUTING IN AND SUSTAINING AN AIRBORNE BATTALION WAS MINISCULE COMPARED TO THE RESOURCES WASTED THEREAFTER. WE HAD THAT CAPABILITY AND CHOSE NOT TO USE IT. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS OPTION WAS PRESENTED TO PRESIDENT BUSH, VP CHENEY, OR SECRETARY RUMSFELD. CRUMP's PROPOSAL TO THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT WAS FOR A FAR MORE RISKY INSERTION OF RANGERS BEHIND THE TORA BORA REDOUBT. I BELIEVE THAT THEY TOSSED THAT TO CENTCOM AND THEY JUSTIFIABLY SHOT IT DOWN. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT NO STAFF ALTERNATIVES WERE OFFERED. THIS IS NOT ON THE PRESIDENT IN MY OPINION. THIS WAS PURELY A MILITARY FAILURE.  THEY FAILED TO ACT BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT LIKE YOU DO. I (like you) do hate to lose (Patton's saying about men who smile when losing comes to mind) but the difference is I know when I’ve lost. ;) NOT LIKELY. Appreciate you using my witty retort.Mimicry is a compliment but an original thought or the ability to question what one thinks he knows, well that's the sign of a critical mind. I WAS RIDICULING THE ARROGANCE OF YOUR THANKING ANOTHER COMMENTOR FOR PARTICIPATING AS THOUGH YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF THE CIRCUS! *remember that five day window?"

  • majrod

    RVN SF VET   LOL!  I thought you didn't want to debate inaccurate crap but your back!  Hmmmm, must not be that inaccurate... I'm not the amazing one.And I’ve been sticking to the point the whole time.Its been jabbing you in the ribs.:) I introduced airflow in response to you implying I think Airborne ops are ineffective.Now you want to make some correlation for risk?OK, putting 920 paratroopers in a friendly country EIGHT DAYS AFTER* Iraqis had invaded Kuwait is a “tad” different than dropping them behind enemy lines because “maybe” Bin Laden was there (based on what we knew THEN).Apples are red & smooth, oranges, dimply and orange. BTW as a testament to "logistics" even in a totally permissive environment with roads, busses and trucks it took those 920 men 60 hours (2.5 days) to move to Al Jubayl which is 100miles from the Kuwait border (not a recon of the border).Hardly at risk of being overrun by Iraqi tanks.Besides the two squadrons of F15s (50) and a partial squadron of F16’s present, on 11 Aug, (day after the 920 paratroopers set up 100 miles from the Kuwait border) 7 B52’s launched from the states each loaded with 45 750lb bombs.The paratroopers were not out in the “cold” per se. Google and Maps can be a friend. You have a tendency when unable to contest the issues raise my conventional background as a weakness but you’re unable to counter my points even simple ones like we didn’t have conclusive evidence Bin Laden was at Tora Bora until after Tora Bora was over.That would seem a valid data point to the casual observer in order to make a decision. I understand why you have little appreciation of the impact of logistics, strategic planning, the dynamic between civil –military organizations and the decision making process necessary to justify ALL major deployments.It’s not a conventional vs. special ops perspective though from your limited perspective it must seem that way. I (like you) do hate to lose (Patton's saying about men who smile when losing comes to mind) but the difference is I know when I’ve lost. ;) Appreciate you using my witty retort.Mimicry is a compliment but an original thought or the ability to question what one thinks he knows, well that's the sign of a critical mind. *remember that five day window?

  • Dr Duh

    majrod RVN SF VET  The role of OBL in global terror is complex. I'm a fan of Stratfor and subscribe to their division of AQ into Core, Franchises (like AQ in the Maghreb, Arabian Penninsula, Iraq) and Lone Wolf elements (like the 7/7 bombers or the Boston bombers). I agree that killing OBL and wiping out the Core would not cripple the Franchises or the Lone Wolves because they are largely self directed. It may have limited Franchises and the Lone Wolves by interrupting funding and technology transfer. It may have hurt or perhaps helped recruiting.  One could argue that we accomplished the functional equivalent of killing OBL by forcing him into hiding and then take credit for the 10 years without a successful major terror attack on the homeland. But his mere surivival was a PR victory for AQ. The survival and dispersion of members of the Core into the Franchises was likewise helpful to them.  Perhaps that's the calculation Bush/Cheney made when they prioritized Iraq. But personally, I considered bringing him to justice a moral imperative.

  • Dr Duh

    majrod RVN SF VET I believe that Bush prioritized preparing for the war in Iraq to the detriment of finding OBL. I don't think this is a crime. It was a judgement call about strategic priorities that he was entitled to make as commander in chief.  Also from the Kerry report page 12 On November 21, 2001, President Bush put his arm on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as they were leaving a National Security Council meeting at the White House. ‘‘I need to see you,’’ the president said. It was 72 days after the 9/11 attacks and just a week after the fall of Kabul. But Bush already had new plans. According to Bob Woodward’s book, Plan of Attack, the president said to Rumsfeld: ‘‘What kind of a war plan do you have for Iraq? How do you feel about the war plan for Iraq?’’ Then the president told Woodward he recalled saying: ‘‘Let’s get started on this. And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.’’

  • Dr Duh

    majrod RVN SF VET Dr Duh I believe this establishes that Bush/Cheney/Rummy were adequately informed and had greater than 2 weeks of window to arrange sufficient lift to place the 10th Mountain south of Tora Bora. On page 13 of the Kerry Report "At the end of November, Crumpton went to the White House to brief President Bush and Vice President Cheney and repeated the message that he had delivered to Franks. Crumpton warned the president that the Afghan campaign’s primary goal of capturing bin Laden was in jeopardy because of the military’s reliance on Afghan militias at Tora Bora. Crumpton showed the president where Tora Bora was located in the White Mountains and described the caves and tunnels that riddled the region. Crumpton questioned whether the Pakistani forces would be able to seal off the escape routes and pointed out that the promised Pakistani troops had not arrived yet In addition, the CIA officer told the president that the Afghan forces at Tora Bora were ‘‘tired and cold’’ and ‘‘they’re just not invested in getting bin Laden.’"