March 29, 2006:
From the beginning, in September, 2001, Afghanistan was very much a special operations (commando) war. The United States asked all of its allies to contribute their commando forces, and most eagerly obliged. This enthusiasm came from the realization that this part of the world was particularly difficult to operate in. In addition, most nations saw Islamic terrorism as a real threat, and knew that key terrorist leaders were still hiding out in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which many Western and Middle Eastern nations opposed, they kept sending their commandoes to Afghanistan.
Most of these commando operations have been kept secret. This is typical for commando operations, but in this case, many of the nations involved don't want it known that they are involved. This has especially been the case with Arab nations that have contributed commando units. The only time any information gets into the media is, typically, when a commando contingent returns. In that way, the Norwegian media recently covered the return of their special forces from, as it was described, "another mission" to Afghanistan . Many nations have either sent their commandoes to Afghanistan in shifts, maintaining a near continuous presence, or send some in for a few months, or up to a year, then bring them home for a year or so, before sending them back.
Afghanistan has been called "the Commando Olympics," because so many nations have contingents there. While the different commando organizations aren't competing with each other, they are performing similar missions, using slightly different methods and equipment. Naturally, everyone compares notes and makes changes based on combat experience. That's the draw for commandoes, getting and using "combat experience." Training is great, but there's nothing like operating against an armed and hostile foe. This is all a real big thing, as the participating commandoes are becoming a lot more effective. But you can't get a photograph of this increased capability, and the commandoes aren't talking to the press. So it's all a big story you'll never hear much about, except in history books, many years from now.