October 7th, 2011
06:05 AM ET

10 years of war: bin Laden dead, al Qaeda not so much

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the final installment of a five-part series on 10th anniversary of the start of the US war in Afghanistan. The series tracks key moments from the past decade.

The war in Afghanistan officially began for the U.S. military on October 7, 2001, 10 years ago Friday. In his speech to the nation that day, President George W. Bush said, "This military action is a part of our campaign against terrorism."

One major success in that campaign came, finally, nearly 10 years later, on May 1, 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and shot him dead.

In his speech announcing bin Laden's death, President Barack Obama was more blunt about the reason for the war.

"We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda - an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies."

But was the secret mission that killed bin Laden really a major turning point in what has become America's longest war ever or just a symbolic victory?
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10 Years of War: Election marks a bright spot
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Afghan women and men wait in line in Afghanistan's first democratic election October 9,2004 at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan. (photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
October 6th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

10 Years of War: Election marks a bright spot

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the fourth of a five-part series on 10th anniversary of the start of the US war in Afghanistan. It tracks key moments from the past decade. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 were published earlier this week; Part 5 will be published Friday.

After the thunderous start to the war in Afghanistan in late 2001, the situation quickly settled into an almost quiet routine. Make no mistake: U.S. and coalition troops were still dying, but not at the rate that was seen at the start of the war and nothing like the death toll seen in recent years.

But by May 1, 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that "we are at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities."

Such stability would last through October 2004, when interim President Hamid Karzai would face a slew of competition in Afghanistan's first-ever national presidential election.
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October 5th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

10 years of war: The battle of Tora Bora - missed opportunity?

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the third of a five-part series on key moments from U.S. combat in Afghanistan. Part 1 and Part 2 were published earlier this week; parts 4 and 5 will be published later this week.

Four months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden was the world's most wanted man, and many thought he was hiding in some of the most remote, impenetrable mountains in the world.

But the battle of Tora Bora, fought in those mountains, holds one of the mysteries of the 10-year war in Afghanistan that may never be solved: did the United States miss a chance to kill bin Laden and cripple al Qaeda nearly 10 years sooner than his actual death earlier this year?

This much is clear: In late November 2001, al Qaeda fighters had fled to the mountains in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border as U.S. forces with their Northern Alliance allies who opposed the Taliban government worked to thwart the Taliban and its terrorist cohorts.
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October 4th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

10 Years of War: American Taliban captured

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the second of a five-part series on the tenth anniversary of U.S. combat in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has been a war zone for decades, and often, the events of one war overlap with those of another.

Such was the case in late November 2001 near the city of Mazar-e Sharif just south of Afghanistan's border with Uzbekistan. A fortress called Qala-i-Jangi on the outskirts of the city had been, at one time, headquarters of Gen. Rashid Dostum, a warlord who controlled much of the northern Afghanistan during the early 1990s. He honed his military skills fighting the Soviets on the side on the Afghans who would become the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

But the Taliban had pushed him out of Afghanistan and into exile in Turkey.

Now, with the U.S. military launching a war against the Taliban, he saw a chance to connect with a new, far more powerful ally. And CNN was there from the beginning.
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10 Years of War: Missiles and Horses
Members of U.S. Special Forces ride horseback into Afghanistan in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Horses were often the only way to travel over long distances in the remote parts of Northern Afghanistan. (DoD photos)
October 3rd, 2011
01:55 PM ET

10 Years of War: Missiles and Horses

This is the first of a five-part series examining key events in the ten-year history of America's war in Afghanistan

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

If you read the military's official history of the start of the war in Afghanistan, it says it all began on October 7, 2001, less than four weeks after the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks.

That day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced details of a massive air bombardment of Taliban strongholds: 50 cruise missiles fired, bombs dropped by B-52s, B-1s and B-2 stealth bombers. The goal, Rumsfeld said, was "to make clear to the Taliban leaders and their supporters that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price."

But the high-tech air campaign was preceded by a very low-tech start to America's involvement in Afghanistan: the so-called horse soldiers.
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