Task Force Currahee is on its second deployment to Afghanistan, responsible for counterinsurgency operations in Paktika province. Soldiers here smiled as they discussed the death of the terrorist responsible for murdering nearly 3,000 Americans and other nationsâ€™ citizens in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Army Maj. Rob Born, brigade operations officer, said bin Ladenâ€™s death wonâ€™t require the task force to change its operations significantly.
â€œThe assessment was in many ways, he was more of a symbolic, moral and figurative leader than he was involved in the command and control of day-to-day operations,â€ Born said. â€œI think we will find out whether or not that hypothesis was true, and what the impact is.â€
He said the task force will analyze the effects of the al-Qaida leaderâ€™s death within its area of operation over the coming days and weeks.
â€œWe definitely expect and anticipate retaliatory attacks,â€ he said. â€œ[But] if theyâ€™re hasty and not well planned, itâ€™s not going to work out well for the insurgents.â€
Born said bin Ladenâ€™s death is a validation of the nationâ€™s efforts to combat terrorism.
â€œI think itâ€™s a tremendous achievement,â€ he said. â€œIt shows that persistence and attention to detail, agility, flexibility, working together with special operations forces and the intelligence community â€“ it pays off.â€
The positive demonstrations outside the White House and in New York City during Obamaâ€™s announcement were encouraging, Born said.
â€œIt just shows that the American public is really engaged in whatâ€™s going on, and they take pride in the achievements of their armed forces,â€ he said. â€œThat really was the best thing that I saw.â€
Army Capt. David McKim, the brigadeâ€™s assistant intelligence officer, termed bin Ladenâ€™s death an example of how his profession operates.
â€œThatâ€™s truly how it does work for us,â€ he said. â€œThings donâ€™t happen instantly, sometimes. A lot of our successes take time to build.â€
He said for his shop, the mission in Regional Command East remains finding the enemy in Paktika and protecting the soldiers and population.
Enemy forces the task force faces in Paktika are not necessarily closely linked to al-Qaida, McKim said, though many in Regional Command South are.
Insurgents in Paktika are likely to respond to bin Ladenâ€™s death in one of two ways, McKim said: their morale could suffer, or their activities could increase in retaliation.
The al-Qaida leaderâ€™s death comes at a time when I think everybody had given up,â€ he said. â€œThey thought, â€˜Heâ€™s either dead, or weâ€™re not going to find him.â€™ But thatâ€™s how things work in our business â€“ you donâ€™t know when.â€
The fact that the military did find bin Laden â€œgives you that justification that yes, we are doing the right things,â€ McKim said.
In the overall counterinsurgency campaign, McKim said, bin Ladenâ€™s death is a powerful counter to enemy propaganda, which claimed America would never capture him.
There is no likely successor to bin Laden who will have the same stature, McKim said.
â€œHe was tall, he spoke very eloquently, â€¦ [he had] power, influence, money,â€ the intelligence officer said. â€œGranted, there are lots of other bad guys out there that will try to take his place.â€
Other insurgents may now think twice about attacking U.S. and coalition forces, he said.
â€œI think this is definitely a good thing,â€ McKim said.
May 2, 2011: By Karen Parrish- American Forces Press Service
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