It is difficult to look at the present state of Afghanistan and justify the American lives lost, resources spent, and time wasted during the 20-year conflict. Part of what makes this hypothetical so appealing is that American SOF were used to great effect in the beginning months of the war. The reluctance to commit large ground forces at the outset allowed special operators to work closely with the Afghan Northern Alliance, capturing Kandahar by December. Could the United States have conducted effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan without the presence of a large ground force? The historical record of Task Force Dagger supports this idea, and the lighter footprint would have costed less and had less of a blowback effect among the local population.
The Crossroads of Special Operations