By Christopher N. Koontz (editor)
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Extra info for Enduring Voices Oral Histories of the U.S. Army Experience in Afghanistan, 2003-2005
Time will tell if we do that or not. DR. HUGHES: Okay. S. Army learn from our experiences there? Your experiences there? LT. GEN. BARNO: Well, I think one of our continuous challenges here is to understand the nature of the war that we’re fighting in that part of the world, not just at the tactical level, but how does the strategic level of war apply in a counterinsurgency fight that reaches outside of a single country and to the region and perhaps globally, certainly, if you include al Qaeda? S.
Did that occupy a lot of your command’s attention? How did that play out? LT. GEN. BARNO: There’s not too much I can talk about in an unclassified forum. We had a very focused, dedicated effort, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, that worked on the high-value-target set that we were seeking to kill or capture, which certainly included bin Laden and [Ayman al-]Zawahiri, Mullah [Mohammad] Omar, [Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar, and a number of the other key lieutenants there. So, that effort was very closely held, but I stayed engaged with it.
So, those were things that the average American is not going to bring to the fight when he comes to Afghanistan. I think we’ve gotten smarter over the last couple of years, and we’re starting to introduce that as a basic understanding that all soldiers have about the culture. That was a huge issue in Afghanistan in how we were perceived—and for the best of reasons—to be treating women in the country. Now, I’ve seen in the last month videos on the Islamic Web sites or postings showing American soldiers searching women in Iraq.