Intelligence: July 16, 2002

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One of the most unusual, and daring, intelligence operations of the Afghanistan war was put together quickly and largely operated out of sight of the media. Right after September 11, 2001, Delta Force and Navy SEAL commandos were organized into Task Force 11 for operations in Afghanistan. This unit eventually grew to some 400 operators, all elite commandos. While Special Forces did most of the direct dealing with Afghans, Task Force 11 kept a low profile, but was in the lead whenever they, Special Forces, or the massive American intelligence effort uncovered anything about where Taliban or al Qaeda forces might be. Members of Task Force 11 took part in the October 19th, 2001 raid on one of Taliban leader Mullah Omar's homes. Credit for that raid was given to U.S. Army rangers, who did provide most of the manpower. But it was Task Force 11 operators who took the lead and controlled the operation. 

Once the Taliban fell from power in November, Task Force 11 was told to find the Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. To accomplish this, Task Force 11 used an elaborate communications and electronic surveillance system listen in on any electronic communications in Afghanistan (and, later, parts of Pakistan) for any clues about where the Taliban or al Qaeda might be hiding. The communications system also allowed the commandos to quickly and easily communicate with aircraft and other support units. 

Much of the Task Force 11 work was done in small units of as few as four men. These patrols spent a lot of time up in the hills, getting to know the territory and often staking out a village for days or weeks, watching, and listening (to any radio communication) for evidence of who might be hiding there. There have been some gun battles up in the hills, on those rare occasions when a Task Force 11 patrol was found by local Afghans. There have been casualties in these clashes, mostly Afghan. The commandos have B-52s and other bombers on call, and access to helicopter transports and gunships. 

Most of the raids and fights attributed to Special Forces were either solely Task Force 11, or led or instigated by Task Force 11. The operation has been successful, with a steady stream of al Qaeda prisoners being taken and sent to Guantanamo Bay for detention and interrogation.

 


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