Support: June 26, 2002

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The Afghanistan war was called "the Olympics of Special Ops" because of the enormous impact and effectiveness of the Special Forces and commandos. At it's peak (in late 2001), there were some 2,000 Special Forces and commandos (from several nations) on the ground. Two important lessons were learned. One is that it's more important to get good communications and reconnaissance systems in there first. While the Special Forces and commandos accomplished a lot working with the Northern Alliance people on a one-to-one basis, the thing they missed in the early weeks was enough communications. Everything had to be flown in, and every bomb had to count. So the critical support provided by communications equipment and specialists to run it was never enough. Air mobility also meant you needed helicopters, the more the better. Special Forces and commandos have different logistics and communications needs than regular combat troops. Special Forces usually operate way out there, far away from any support. Good communications are not only the difference between success and failure, but often life and death. The second need was for less micromanagement. Special Forces and commandos are trained to operate independently, but senior military and political leaders can't seem to help getting themselves into the soldiers decision making cycle. Although when troops were under fire they were able to get bombs on target in under ten minutes, for other targets it could take much longer (from 40 minutes to, in at least one case, four hours.) Even suspected bombing of mortar positions required lengthily waits for permission from above. Complaints from troops on the ground made their way up the chain of command and going into 2002, the delays were reduced, but there were still delayed. Apparently a delay would have to kill someone before the problem were addressed effectively. 

 


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