A Flawed Masterpiece

O'Hanlon, Michael E.
May 2002
Foreign Affairs;May/Jun2002, Vol. 81 Issue 3, p47
Operation Enduring Freedom has been, for the most part, a masterpiece of military creativity and finesse. Despite its success, mistakes have been made. Two of them have been US handling of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, and the failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda officials. A number of important military innovations appeared in Operation Enduring Freedom, among them advanced targeting, reconnaissance, and communications capabilities. Broad lessons that have been learned from this conflict include: 1) military progress does not always depend on highly expensive weapons platforms 2) human skills remain important in war 3) military mobility and deployability should continue to be improved, and 4) more joint-service experimentation and innovation are highly desirable. Critics contend that the Bush administration's defense budget protects the traditional weapons priorities of the military services without seeking a radical enough transformation of the armed forces. But the real problem is the unwillingness to set priorities and challenge the military services to do so as well. A more prudent modernization agenda would begin by canceling at least one or two major weapons and modernize more selectively in general. A final assessment of Operation Enduring Freedom depends on whether bin Laden and his top lieutenants have escaped Afghanistan. To prevent a blow to US image, and prevent civil war in Afghanistan, the US needs to work hard with other donors to make reconstruction and aid programs succeed in Afghanistan.


Related Articles

  • WHAT'S BECOME OF AL-QAEDA? Ratnesar, Romesh; Bloch, Hannah; Elegant, Simon; Quinn-Judge, Paul; Shannon, Elaine; Thompson, Mark; Waller, Douglas; Ware, Michael // Time International (South Pacific Edition);1/21/2002, Issue 2, p16 

    Presents a progress report on the United States-led war on terror and the state of the Osama bin Laden-linked al-Qaeda terrorist network as of January 2002. Efforts of the U.S. military to send al-Qaeda operatives to prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; Threat that al-Qaeda continues to pose;...

  • Defeating the Sixth Column: Intelligence and Strategy in the War on Islamist Terrorism. Schindler, John R. // Orbis;Sep2005, Vol. 49 Issue 4, p695 

    For the first time since the late 1940s, Washington is attempting a comprehensive analysis of the role and performance of the American intelligence system. In rethinking intelligence, it needs to address that the sixth column—Islamist terrorists residing in states that knowingly or...

  • The Alienated Frontier: Why the United States Can't Get Osama bin Laden. Cappelli, Vanni // Orbis;Sep2005, Vol. 49 Issue 4, p713 

    Since the Russian-supplied Afghan army overthrew progressive President Daud in 1978, the nation has endured the long Soviet-Afghan war, the Taliban, and the arrival of US troops. These military actions have only heightened the historical alienation of the Pashtun tribes who over spread the...

  • Declaring Victory. Fallows, James // Atlantic;Sep2006, Vol. 298 Issue 2, p60 

    The article presents an examination into the global war on terrorism and the success of the United States against groups such as al-Qaeda. An overview of the successes and failures by the U.S. is given, highlighting the importance of the U.S. public reaction rather than the overt actions of...

  • The Ongoing War Against Terrorism.  // World Almanac & Book of Facts;2003, p489 

    Focuses on the war against terrorism that continued to dominate the American agenda. Continuation of wave of terrorist operations of al-Qaeda and its allies; Explosion in Bali killing at least 180 people attributed to al-Qaeda; Americans sought to honor the heros and victims of the 2001...

  • Legal Cases Related to the War Against Terrorism.  // World Almanac & Book of Facts;2003, p6 

    Provides a list of persons with legal cases pending as a result of their activities and associations with terrorist organizations including: John Walker Lindh; Ramzi bin al-Shibh; Earnest James Ujaama; Enaam Aranout and others.

  • US-Led War On Terror Staged Over Afghanistan. Chaisson, Kernan; Rivers, Brendan P. // Journal of Electronic Defense;Nov2001, Vol. 24 Issue 11, p26 

    Reports the development on the United States-led war on Afghanistan. Campaign of the US on al Qaeda terrorist and Taliban supporters; Variety of aircraft combats participated in the attack; Confidence of the US military on sending small grounds troops on the war; Alliance of the US on the...

  • TEN YEARS LATER. Clarke, Richard A. // Atlantic;Jan/Feb2005, Vol. 295 Issue 1, p61 

    The article presents a fictitious transcript of a speech discussing the United States war on terrorism. A speculative chronology is given regarding additional future terrorist attacks, and the resulting political and social consequences. A detailed overview of the U.S. military and foreign...

  • Will We Get Him in '04? Hosenball, Mark // Newsweek;2/9/2004, Vol. 143 Issue 6, p6 

    Discusses the possibility of a U.S. offensive against terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. How bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, have been evading capture; Problems with U.S. forces operating on the Pakistan side of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; Emerging reports on...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics