Nineteen years ago, a team of Canadian snipers set back-to-back world records for the longest sniper kill during one of the largest battles of the war in Afghanistan.

The U.S. response to the September 11 terrorist attacks caught al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts by surprise. Instead of pouring tens of thousands of troops into Afghanistan’s harsh terrain as the Soviets had done, the U.S. military took the unconventional route.

A small number of U.S. special operators and CIA paramilitary officers partnered with the Northern Alliance, a hodgepodge of anti-Taliban factions, and other groups. By late 2001 they had largely defeated al-Qaeda and the Taliban through a combination of airpower and ground operations conducted by local fighters with guidance from Green Berets.

It was a perfect unconventional-warfare campaign and a ringing endorsement of the U.S. and Coalition special operations community; this lead policymakers to rely more on commandos.