Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Operation Enduring Freedom - America’s Afghan War 2001 to 2002
By Tim Ripley
Pen and Sword (
RRP GBP £25.00
ISBN 9781848845640


The September 11th (2001) attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon are a major turning point in the history of the United States of America. It was an unexpected and gruesome act of terrorism and the names Osama bin Laden (technically known as Usama bin Laden in the book) and his Al Qaeda organisation were etched into the consciousness of millions around the world.

The US government subsequently launched a massive military operation against Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organisation’s bases in Afghanistan. The US government had identified them as being responsible for the terrorist attacks and they went to war against them. The government of Afghanistan (at the time of the attacks) was the Taliban and the Taliban supported and protected the Al Qaeda network.

This interesting and exciting book reveals how the first six months of the war developed. It was an incredibly confused period and few journalists or civilians had any access to the main events. Any details were those issued by the military and numerous “urban myths” were developed. Some of those myths persist to the present day due to the lack of information released into the public domain.

The author has investigated the actual events of the first six months and he has written a very interesting and entertaining account of this period. It is so interesting you will not want to stop reading it until you have reached the finish.

The book reveals how US & UK Special Forces conducted clandestine reconnaissance operations prior to the main hostilities commencing on 7th October 2001. Numerous secret pre-hostilities operations were conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, RAF Canberra and U-2 spy-planes. These operations helped to identify and assess Taliban and Al Qaeda targets.

The book charts the development of operations and it discusses in detail the internal politics of Afghanistan. The Taliban did not govern all of Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance and a multitude of armed tribal militias also “governed” sections of the country. The American intelligence agencies such as the CIA and those for the military tried to utilise and mobilise these anti-Taliban forces against the Taliban. Some of this support was financial, arms and food etc.

Numerous photographs of the conflict are used in the book to illustrate the events as they occurred. There are chapters detailing the experiences of the war, the commanders (on both sides), the political response and America’s initial reaction to the attacks, the build-up to the war and the start of the war. Then the history of the conflict is considered. The strategic air campaign, the operations of the Northern Alliance, the aerial combat and the revolt in the South are eloquently mentioned. The usage of spy planes and the battle of Tora Bora are recounted and the book finally concludes with chapters on the ISAF force and the deployment of ground troops. Finally the “victory” is analysed.

If you are interested in current affairs especially those in Afghanistan then this book is a “must read”. The author gives the background to the initial Afghan conflict in great detail and it is essential for those wishing to understand the current situation.

April 2012