By: Sean Naylor
Military Times Authors Series
After the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, America quickly toppled the Taliban regime that had sheltered the terrorist organization in Afghanistan. But, believing the war to be all but over, the Pengtagon and U.S. Central Command refused to commit the forces required to achieve total victory in Afghanistan. Instead, they delegated responsibility for fighting the war's biggest battle - one that could have broken Al Qaeda and captured Osama bin Laden - to a hodge-podge of units thrown together at the last moment.
At dawn on March 2, 2002, America's first major battle of the 21st century began. Over 200 soldiers of the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions flew into Afghanistan's Shahikot valley-and into the mouth of a buzz saw. They were about to pay a bloody price for strategic, higher-level miscalculations that underestimated the enemy's strength and willingness to fight.
Now, award-winning journalist Sean Naylor, an eyewitness to the battle, details the failures of military intelligence and planning, and vividly portrays the astonishing heroism of these young, untested U.S. soldiers. Denied the extra infantry, artillery, and attack helicopters with which they trained to go to war, these troops nevertheless proved their worth in brutal combat and-along with the exceptional daring of a small team of U.S. commandos-prevented an American military disaster.