The planning for a response began immediately after the events of 9/11. Special operations teams were to insert themselves into Afghanistan from the north and south working with local anti-Taliban forces to locate members of Al Qaeda. More daringly, the first boots on the ground would be members of the Army’s Delta Force deep in enemy territory. The objective of their Operation Gecko was the compound of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader. Omar’s compound was located near the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Over 500 miles from Delta team’s staging base, the USS Kitty Hawk, the mission would represent the longest air assault in US military history. The Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the “Night Stalkers”, would provide transport and air support. Upon arrival one of the Chinooks carrying troops hit the wall of the compound almost collided with another in the dust-up. The helicopter crash landed but was able to take off later. Once on the ground, Delta operators stormed the compound and engaged the enemy. For almost an hour, the area was searched, and intel was gathered, but Mullah Omar was no where to be found. Although not a complete success the mission sent a clear message about the reach of America’s military.
The Crossroads of Special Operations