tv A CIA Officer in Afghanistan After 911 CSPAN August 21, 2021 5:53pm-7:01pm EDT
guest today. we call this a briefing it is an expansion of our podcast series called spy cast. we tend to do these conversations in private in the studio a couple feet from here. but every quarter we choose one that really stands out and we do it as a public debriefing. so the community can get a chance to hear the authors talk directly to you. and we are excited especially today. about an a second to have dwayne evans here with us. he is a former operations officer on four continents including serving chief of station which many of you know is the most senior field position. he is the recipient of the intelligent start an accommodation metal. prior to joining the agency he was u.s. army special forces and military intelligence officer brings a graduate of the new mexico state university, go aggies i
guess. and the author of a author of a novel as well as foxtrot of officer in afghanistan at the inception of america's longest war, welcome to wayne thank you for taking time to talk to us today. >> thank you for having me. >> when anyone writes a memoir, the questions and tend to be why? even more so with this book. this is not just a memoir of your life it. it's not when i was born it's a memoir of a particular time in your history. it is a snapshot of a specific period white focus specifically on this time and not a 400 page book about my life and my childhood? >> good question. for the reasons you stated it is a special time. it was a very special time for me for me is a very emotional time. a whole catalyst for my involvement in afghanistan was
the 911 attack. which today is the anniversary of. it was such a powerful experience for me i knew i wanted to write about if only for myself, for me and my family to read about it. as years passed, even though i'd written an original spine of the story for my own remembrance, the years past we continue to be involved in afghanistan. i realize how important the story was to me. i began to see it from a human interest standpoint it might be of interest to other people as well as being a historical account of a very special time, the whole involvement of the cia in afghanistan and that initial period was kind of unique. it was under extraordinary circumstances. for those reasons i thought i could write something to focus exclusively on that. not go into all the other things you mention. there's a lot of authors who come to the museum on the
podcast. many of them have a nightmare stories the publication review board at cia. you actually talk about operations. you talk about forces and methods in certain circumstances. you had very little trouble. can you tell us how that happened? there are others who might want to know how you had this successful experience. but also wasn't purposeful when you were writing it? were you trying to figure what could you say what couldn't you? >> definitely is purposeful. i did not want to run into a lot of problems. i have seen other books i had a good sense of what the publications review board is looking for in terms of what they would censor out. they are looking at it from the standpoint of classified information. particularly regarding protection of sources and ethics. i wrote the book and a way that i protected sources and methods. it's the nature of the
operations we were doing in afghanistan were not your classic espionage. the book is not about running agent it's running assets. it is reporting. something going on, i could focus on that that was not the main theme of the book. the main theme we were doing for that matter. because it was a para- military operation for the most part, a lot of it became public anyway. this is now 16 years after the fact. most of it dealt with the north. most of the things written about afghanistan was in the north. the south has not been written about. because so many things had already been approved dealing with the north, usually the policy was if it's been approved something similar has been approved by them if you write about it even that they may initially say you can't do it if you can point to it and say you allow this other book to publish this and it was
fine, they will reconsider and allow you to publish that in your book. he brought up 911 how could you not it's the anniversary of it. there are very few young people in here just about everybody probably remembers where they were on 911. you are at the fbi headquarters. already to document some of the same concerns everyone will be talking at a couple hours later. can you talk a little bit about your experience that day and help you and others started seeing the writing on the wall long before the american public did. >> 911 is really interesting. is only a block or so from here i was at the fbi headquarters building. there is a gentleman in the audience a very dear friend of mine who happened to be with me and i talk about in this book. i didn't not know he was going to be here but he has shown up.
i'll call him frank and frank was an fbi special agent i was on leave i just come back overseas a few weeks before. i was on a very extended leave i had a lot of accumulated leave. i was looking at a long leave. in fact it was not supposed to go to work until late october. that was going to be at the fbi's asea is it liaison officer. frank had been working with me overseas to visit and take to ca headquarters as well for a briefing on the threat of international terrorism. frank invited me too join him at fbi headquarters to see this group some of whom i knew and get a tour of the building. i thought i was going to be a liaison officer in a couple months about what a great opportunity and invent a month or two since i left the station we work together. frank and i've through a lot together already ran the
operations overseas, had other very dramatic experiences we went through. he met me outside i was sipping a cappuccino enjoying the weather just like today, beautiful day thinking how good life was. waiting for frank to show up with this delegation. i met them there, we went up to the fbi headquarters into their operation center. we got there around 9:00 o'clock. we couldn't find the person we are supposed to meet, soon we were asked to escort the delegation out of the operations center. there had been an incident in new york, we assumed it was a small plane. we went downstairs and went to the cafeteria to fit what were going to do now were going not going to have the tour and briefing. that's what's on the news report on the television for the first time i saw it was really going on and realized
okay this is something major much bigger than either one of us had imagined. it was quite a shock as it was to everyone. i new at that moment, when the second plane hit the building, i knew this was al qaeda. i instantly knew that, there was no question my mind who had done it. it would mean we were going to go to war. we would be in order soon and i wanted to be a part of that. >> you would focus on counterterrorism for years at this point. another interesting you were there at a weird time story in the book is a month before the african bombings you were actually at one of the african embassy's time bad security was pre- >> that happened by chance i visited the one in nairobi actually. i was talking to an embassy officer there about their poor security the physical security of the embassy.
we happened to be standing and in a >> spot for a truck a month later would detonate and kill a lot of people. i was overseas in that attack happened. i was back at my stations i had left from when i went to visit in africa. as of the newspaper that morning i saw the graph, the picture over the bomb had gone off. i realize incident exactly that place was. that was the place i visited and the officer night stood. i was familiar with terrorism for a long time for. >> he said he understood there were security issues. >> absolutely is not a surprise to them. they knew about it more than i did they head -- make the ambassador had requested to the state department to move locations it'd been going on sometime because of the security vulnerability of the embassy. the officer told me at that moment we know it's
vulnerable. they are not going to do anything. the ambassador requested it but no changes are going to be done until this building is blown down in a month later was blown down. >> you mentioned you knew we were at war. most people understand the cia ramped up immediately for what would be called the global war on terror whatever you words you want to use. certainly everyone attempted to ramp up as quick as they could. there was bureaucracy getting in the way. one of the biggest issues you outline in the book is the near east and south asian division was focused on that area of the world had potential responsibility now for afghanistan. the same time it was a counterterrorism at cia. how did some of these interservice rivalries play out and cause problems for the
mission moving forward? >> i was caught between those two divisions. i was home-based with the south asian division i was on rotational assignment to the counterterrorism center one is overseas. the ca headquarters who is going to be running the show here in terms of response? is a period of time or days which has the mission of counterterrorism who owned the territory initially no one
knew who was actually going to take the lead on the cia response to 9/11. it took a while to play out too. the decision was made what kind of cherish and senders going to take a lead on that. we play a very supporting role of corso. >> you were there and they were trying to volunteer they could not even find your information. you cannot volunteer you don't exist we don't know where file is. >> the new office within counterterrorism center, special operations they called it wanted volunteers of course further going to do a special vetting of them to make sure they have the people they wanted. i was when the very, very first people there is only a handful of people and they said we have to venture i said fine, but then they could not find my file. they didn't have the na division didn't have it they didn't have my file i found
out i knew the person who is the chief of the special operations center when he came back he said no we can take him they did not need to review my file. >> let's talk about afghanistan that is the focus here. the cia did not just figure out afghanistan was there on 911. they certainly knew about it back in the 80s but in the '90s and early to thousands there were some potential planning happening in afghanistan. there is liaison between cia and the northern alliance. there is constant attempts to keep in contact. but right before 911 this is something many people don't of the history of, the top person of the northern alliance the first person we would've reached out to to deal with was assassinated by al qaeda. >> was the leader of the northern alliance. three or four days now i don't member exactly when, he was assassinated by a couple people posing as journalists
who were al qaeda affiliate. they'd been waiting for days and days to see them and their camp in the headquarters area. finally left to say bring them and i will see them they had explosives and killed him. the problem it immediately presented he was very charismatic, very capable leader of the northern alliance. when he was killed, again it's days before 911, 911 happened as you mentioned we have this liaison going with the northern alliance we turn to to join forces with but their leader had just been assassinated. i don't know who was ever proven or known that assassination was done as part of the whole plot for 911 for them anticipating with what we did in joining forces i don't know i cannot speak to that but that certainly a possibility. >> the timing is so coincidental.
it seems extraordinary it has to be a shot of 911 for that. back to bureaucracy. it is kind of the undercurrent here. we want to go, we want to do something about it. the problem that you lay out is what i think all of us can appreciate if a new unit standing up. no one wants to give up their best people why would you give up your top operator for one unit? >> i say in my book in fact i call that a failure of leadership. we had so many senior officers who basically wanted to continue as if nothing happened in terms of their management of personnel. requests were made for their
officers to come join the cso we had to fight to get those officers. they are either chiefs of station or division chiefs did not give them up. in my view they did not recognize the world had changed with 911. this was not going to be the standard kind of thing ca did for a while. things are going to change here. we needed people that had previous military skills. people who had certain language skills will be applicable for operating in afghanistan. we need to have that combination of talent. so when we found one we really wanted him and needed him. they had problems with their station chiefs, division chiefs not wanting to give them up. >> did you perceive it as a belief this whole counterterrorism thing was a bit of a blip in the mission it would eventually go back to being normal is that the perception of some of the
leadership treating you this way? >> i certainly did not see it as a blip. i knew this was major this was a game changer. >> did you perceive they were thinking that way that is why they were unwilling to give up? >> i perceive that was exactly what they were thinking. i heard comments to that fact this is bad but it's going to change and things will get back to normal. we will still have a regular mission. i heard that sort of talk. that kind of philosophy was there. i found it very disappointing. not everybody was that way i don't get the wrong impression. there were enough people that felt that with it did make it difficult to get some of the people we're trying to get. ultimately i think we got everybody we wanted when lieutenant got involved and he would support with that mission was on the cso's request for personnel. he would weigh in and we would get the people eventually. >> you mentioned already the lookout was for people who
were cia officers but also had military backgrounds. you fit that role. but it had been a while at that point. did you have to retrain yourself very, very quickly in the stuff you had learned in the past? i know you got a commercial there's a great story if you going to the airport you can tell or not you can leave a for people to read in the book if you decide. but when you hit the ground you're working with people who are currently in special operation whether delta or seals, and then people let's not use the word younger, people had more recent military experience. [laughter] how hard was the learning to come back and relearn the skills you knew before? >> i didn't have time to relearn. think i was already mollified from a previous to two were but i did for mike weapons
training. that was not a big issue. really in the dark mort was a communications equipment the military was using, that kind of thing. basically on the team i lead we eventually had a couple special operators from the military that were detailed for part of the team. then we working jointly with the special forces team. i did not have time to relearn all that i had to rely on people who knew those skills. probably the bigger advantage for me was i understood the environment, being out in the field, that kind of living. the types of things we have to contend with. it was not unfamiliar to me it'd been a while but i felt pretty much at home. >> most people get deployed to afghanistan think they are on in the united states.
small portion of afghanistan. i felt so comfortable there because of the natural environment. it was so familiar in terms of what i saw and felt, how the air felt and how to handle it. carrying a rifle. when i was a kid that's all he did was hunt. and so it was a very natural feeling. i did not feel like i was an alien environment at all. i had to remind myself this is a war zone you are not out hunting quail here. [laughter] >> let me ask you about your arrival there. you did not go directly to afghanistan he went to pakistan first. this shows another level of bureaucratic tension within the cia. because up until 911 or right
after you guys showed up to start the operations there, afghanistan had been controlled by the station in pakistan. they did not quite realize much in the way the people in headquarters the head change as much is that happy talk about that tension. >> they understood the significance of what had happened. i think what had changed maybe they hadn't realized organizationally when the cd cso formed up all the sudden their roles became different from what it had been. previously in afghanistan we did not have a station in kabul for years. it's all about being the closest to the problem had taken over. that's called a station in exile. for cia operation so instead they control afghanistan i'll think you can use that term with afghanistan.
they have been responsible for laying cia operations up until 911 running and managing cia's response to 911 in afghanistan. it was responsible at war from the cia standpoint. that could still cause confliction in that regard. they were still very important i do not once and anyway went to underestimate or under describe what the role was for the station. they played a huge important role. but they were not in charge any longer, so was. there was friction even before he got out to pakistan there'd been plenty of communications back and forth in the friction was evidence. that there is a a lot of friction different ideas how we should proceed in the war,
that kind of thing. and so when i went out there along with a colleague of mine and arrived at their we are pretty much seen as almost the enemy by certain members of the station. >> central figure in afghanistan at the time, he turned into a bit of a controversial figure because his rise to power was seen as a huge win for the united states and everybody against the taliban. his actual reign in charge of afghanistan was seen as less successful. you know pretty well you had a closer relationship than just about anybody. you ended up being, you could can you describe a little bit about who he was it's interesting how positive especially the negativity.
>> i got to know him it was a brief. i was actually with him. like you said i was literally right next door. i was the go to guy. i got to spend a lot of time with him during the impacted timeframe for their other agency officers and others who have gotten to know in much better i did at the time. that moment in time i did not get to know him and got to see him later on. knowing to impact at all how i felt him at the time it purred i wanted to portray him as i knew him then. i was extremely impressed with the man. i knew i was in the presence of a historical figure when i was around him. he was extremely dedicated, totally focused on freeing
afghanistan the taliban. just a gentleman not a mean bone in his body. i cannot imagine him being personally corrupt, extremely brave. the man had already gone into afghanistan by himself to initially start this rebellion against the taliban. i had nothing but respect for him at the time and genuinely liked him. i don't know anyone who didn't like him. over time, as the president and afghanistan, different things have been said about him. i was not working with him then. i've not to say though he has got a tough road to hoe. he's got to the balance of the conflicting interest in afghanistan and be the leader of his own country. sometimes when he would make a decision that we as americans might not like. i think we are failing to realize, he's in charge of his
own country. he is trying to act in the best interest of his country. he is trying to balance all of this but i cannot imagine how did the job and he think he wasn't it for about 12 years. >> he went in with a team called echo team. we were supposed to be on. you got bumped at the last minute literally the last minute because of space. sometimes again a plane cannot hold enough people. at that point and up leading a team called foxtrot, the title of the book. you instead match up with another afghan it gets the name that gucci moose i'm not sure he can be any different. clearly a different man. this is a guy he had been the
governor up until the taliban had taken over. he had to flee the governorship and had been living in exile in impacted for a number of years. that is where it came from, he saying he wants to go back and fight the taliban. is he really up to the task to do that? he had to prove himself that was the idea. he'd gone into the country set up a base just inside afghanistan. at an armed group of guys and some equipment basically show the capabilities and capacity for engaging al qaeda and the taliban. that is when the decision was made kind of late. he takes up with the echo team, they go in and the next day i'm called back and said hey we want to do this other
team. fadiman talked about for some time. but then it was like yes we want to do this other team and you four days to do it. >> the deployment time the next questions when get the foxtrot team. not only do you have very little time to prepare for this but everything from your communications, to weapons and ad hoc. very much scrap it together when you can find it kind of things. kind of the problems you run into. not only is the different philosophically they could not be two different people. he is a relatively small, somewhat you would probably think of him as meek as the wrong word. i'm trying to think of a different word, humble. and then he is larger than life kind of guy. how difficult was it, number
one to the fox trot team put together with the limitations you have but number two to deal with that personality. >> he speaks beautiful english probably better than mine. we had no speakers amongst us. we had to use an interpreter the first cousin i am talking through to talk to him. it makes it a different amazing relationship. it is more a physical kind of got a hands-on kind of guy. he is more of an intellectual more sophisticated and they way he thought about things and how he acted.
but as far as coming together as a team, it was kind of difficult. i had no communication scare and initially how am i going to help anybody if i can't talk to anybody? having gotten them from the echo team mark, who is coming out of the station he had no weapons and the station had issued all their handguns out so they thought. climbing up on rafters found a handgun for him at least. he could not get an ak-47 part he got one from of his guys. some basic stuff. >> for mark probably the weapon a. [laughter] [inaudible] sending into afghanistan without a gun. [laughter]
he was not too thrilled about that. but we got that worked out. fortunately we found to military task force that was there two guys i signed a detail that was a miracle frankly, detailed to bureaucracy. he tells it to our team. i say that because he had to get secretary rumsfeld's signature for those two guys to come in with us into afghanistan. but we needed them because they have a calm scare we needed at least for part of the comms gear. >> i want to ask about that relationship. the cia and special operations had been working a little bit together before 911. 911 changes everything. that line that used to be pretty thick, the demarcation between that military special operations and cia is completely gone. that melding of forces.
how was the relationship between the cia and special operations? and did the separate rules of engagement, the sucker democracy because hiccups along the way? >> those initial weeks and months i would say it was almost seamless. i think the whole reason it was almost seamless is because we were also motivated think how that people came together after 911. more so with the cia. there was really no friction on the ground. on the ground level as of in the special forces team was my team. we never had any conflict at all, at all. that is because were so mission focus. there is a paramilitary arm from the military services
elements, and so are paramilitary, initial part of terry there made up of paramilitary officers. they are very like-minded with their military they are working with. they have the same training, the same everything. i differences they have a little bit of a different mission at that point. >> our mission is intelligence collection, providing intelligence, we have other capabilities as well. in this case work with special forces guys close air support to support the afghans on the ground. even so we all understood each other's role. that was critical i think. we understood the role so there is not friction for the nuts and they're stepping on our toes or were stepping on their toes. we knew what we were supposed to be doing.
>> while that did not have friction and moved smoothly there was some friction between the people on the ground and headquarters back in langley or the pentagon. several times in the book he discussed the perception the disconnect of understanding for people back at headquarters and people in the field. you said it's a different worlds you use that phrase in the book. then you talk about air support. there's an anecdote in the book about we are calling in to do a report back to headquarters had been calling in for close air support. the person on the other and that you are talking to did not understand what was happening. thought you dropped coffee versus a balm for the there is a horse feed story and went to detail. the idea when someone it cia died they use the word shocked in response. how far away from the battlefield are they when they
don't realize this is a battlefield. they've died in probably more be in office. >> they are in different worlds those two worlds never jell very well. but in the case of close air support you mention, again for a y and jena while there we had the military guys we had it was good for secure voice so it can be a tax break every support i had to send a had to dictate it. had to dictate ever report. you normally type up and shoot it through a satellite. this had to do satellite comms but dictate it. that was in the middle of the night for me is like 2:00 a.m. in the morning for headquarters it's 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon roughly. they are and different worlds literally in that sense. and in that case the moment was calling in their some convoys and one, i do not know
where it hit but it was really loud i jumped it was so loud. but the lady i was talking to on the other end she said what was that did you drop your coffee cup? i did not even answer her. i continued on. the horse feed a another example, a lot of teams are operating in the north. they actually did use horses up there i was mad because i grew up with horses. [inaudible] the knight really would've felt like new mexico. i was really upset, not really upset but it would've been kinda cool. anyway, what happen though once a week had air supply we dropped it could be a parachute to us, we would have to go out and see what they sent us and report back. one day, it was at night when they drop them, we got our supplies and unloading and low and behold there's two bags of
horse feed. so we do our report and check everything before it goes out it's going out under my signature so to speak. everything is good it's routine report about what we received. but after i sent the message to headquarters i was looking at the different message i was reading it. that wasn't me one of my teammates probably one of the paramilitary guys that with the with us just to make sure they understood we did not have any horses only put two bags of horse feed they put in parentheses they said we don't have any f horses. [laughter] but they didn't say f. [laughter] : : :
to me is late in the fact that foxtrot was at the last minute. this first group you flew in to kandahar and that was the ultimate target of the operation. f is the first to come in and you were able to go back and take the paramilitary aside and give them equipment. >> a couple of things guess we were the first two men in very
proud of that however echo team came in basically cat the team came in the next day in the next after that and ideally we were going to hit kandahar at the same time that but they had a few days before been hit high in inherent bombing that killed a number of people and to the sf that were with echo team when i was there before it got switched to f and we needed everyone else on the oea so they had been delayed and karzai himself was injured so they were delayed a bit but they came down the next day. >> they were giving a chance to take a victory lap. >> i now they have to say also it was also the special -- at the same time. there was other involvement but anyway you mentioned the compound. we got a chance to do some
hard-core. >> headquarters prepared a list of places they want us to rating kandahar in that where al qaeda had been headquartered and was the main sanctuary for it so we were hoping we were going to maybe capture some and we captured or killed some al qaeda on the way to kandahar in the village we held for about 10 days when we were trying to get into kandahar and we had to get past the report there in kandahar because was held by them and once we were able to move past to get into kandahar and started going after those targets and buildings and houses and the headquarters to go and pray that we were hoping to capture more guys and figured they were probably gone by now or at least get some clientele and we did get some and tell and no question the most important thing we got out of it was basically a casing report and attack plan to attack a u.s.
naval ship in singapore by an al qaeda affiliated cell in east asia and casing photos video diagrams everything and this was going to be something on the scale of. >> except the carl vincent is a massive nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. >> yes it's a different ship that's true. see that could have been catastrophic beyond the level. >> i report got out immediately of course and it took a few weeks but they basically rounded up everybody in southeast asia and the whole cell was wrapped up so i feel like that probably above any single thing made it all worthwhile for the former foxtrot team because we didn't know how many been killed and there were other things they were looking at that they were going to go after as well. >> people may not know josé
padilla as well and you did noted the time and what you got helped. >> al qaeda believe it or not was very bureaucratic in keeping notes and things like that in keeping track of things and they had an application form essentially for people who wanted to apply to become an al qaeda member. he had applied and we had lots of the stuff that we had gotten from the governor's compound which was held by al qaeda and taliban before he moved in there so there was still stuff they had gotten rid of and we found that we didn't know. it was his application had his fingerprints on it and it was used in the trial when we do the sorting all that and testifying in his trial and disguise an alias is to the chain of custody of that incident partly what he was good of. they had their own terrorist organization streamlined approach to your application
process. we talked a ton about barack bureaucracy but if the cia gets underway it's arguably the most important and that's when you now have two afghan leaders in the same city brought in by two different teams and karzai by echo team in foxtrot team and the rest had to be inevitable at that point. instead of telling you what to do you actually were asked to mediate and given power to try to solve this problem. >> exactly. they were coming at the same of jack giving kandahar and for sherzai for him it was coming back to the governorship and that's what he was after taking the governorship back. karzai of course we were hoping that he would come out on top of everything and be the future leader of afghanistan but so
sherzai does this as well. there's some friction there on the different roles and all that and they actually have a familial relationship. i think they are second cousins or maybe first cousins and they are related so what happened was when they took kandahar karzai kind of assumed primacy before he became a national leader of afghanistan took charge in a way and he was willing, he wanted the former governor of the taliban governor of kandahar wanted him to become a security chief of kandahar province. he felt that guy would help bring and taliban elements and lay down their arms. sherzai hated this guy.
there was no way and also he was helping the al qaeda guys that were still in hiding to get out of the country and to get out of kandahar. sherzai is like no way you'll taccom the eventual security chief so there was real friction and it was so poor they stay united. they were pashtuns taliban pashtun so we could not afford for there to be split between them. is something like 40% of the operation in afghanistan is pashtun as well. >> absolutely. so we had to kind of lay the law down so to speak and the echo team leader who is very close to karzai at that point especially after all he had been through it myself with sherzai as well as mark because mark new sherzai as well and wanted him to be there so we go to this meeting between
the two to kind of sort things out and basically we were told hey guys we have to come to an agreement here. you've got to get this thing resolved and to his credit karzai said let me do my own checking into this reporting about the guy helping the chief of security helping al qaeda get out of kandahar and he used his own sources and he was able to confirm what we were telling him. at that point he says we will appoint him chief of security and at that point sherzai was happy and it was all results. >> until 10 minutes later when afghanistan -- before we jump out to questions of and start thinking about that now it's been 16 years and we are still there. doesn't look like it's getting significantly better. based on your experiences can we
have peace in afghanistan without including the taliban whether it stood big t taliban are little t taliban however we want to define it and is there military solution that we haven't been able to apply the last 16 years? what is your prognosis for afghanistan moving forward? >> i don't believe there's a military solution unless we want to just completely turn into much larger than what we did before with 100,000 troops and i don't think anyone is ready to do that or want to do that or think we should do that. i don't think there's a military solution to the problems in afghanistan. i was very hopeful right after december 2001 when we had pretty good success there. the taliban was out of office and i thought there would be a chance to get the country up and running in unified and have a stable country but i'm not
nearly as hopeful any longer. you've got to look at the history behind the country. this is, what's going on now is nothing new. it's going on for a long, long time and like einstein said doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity and i think there's a little bit of that going on in afghanistan. we were hopeful and we had good intentions but it's a tough country. it's a primitive country. it's a geographically isolated country and ethnically divided. it has so many internal divisions. it manages when it doesn't have foreign forces of it seems to manage itself pretty well and has to start when it comes quickly when there's a foreign invasion from the russians or the persians are the mongols were the british.
they end up turning against them and they have a destination done that to us the united states and i think that's probably because we were a little bit smarter but the longer it goes the less likelihood it's happening. i say in my book at the end the only solution is negotiate a peace but an forteau and don't think the taliban are right now in a position to want to negotiate but i do think we need to be thinking about leaving afghanistan and not hightailing it out immediately but we need to give up on the idea that we are going to build this nation into a stable country. >> is it winnable in december of 2001 in 2002? >> i think our best hope of making from a nation-building standpoint and political stability and all that all the
focus on the government really went to iraq. we went into the whole position in afghanistan and we still do but if we had not invaded iraq and kept focused on afghanistan especially after the initial success we had i think that would have been the best opportunities to be able to stabilize the place and be gone, mostly gone and unfortunately that opportunity is gone and i don't think we can get it back. >> should we open it up to questions from the audience? if you have a question please raise your hand. he's coming from behind you with the mic. >> thank you. you are talking about the federally administered travelers and when that became an issue of complication and how to get control over that area and it became an escape point for folks to get into.
>> that barrier is referred to as a no-man's land. the government is in the congress region and they kept their forces out of there by what happened is because, i'm not a historian here but where became a real issue was with the taliban al qaeda coming into the area and going into those tribal areas leaving afghanistan and going into the tribal areas and pretty much there was not going to be an attack at that point. that changed when we did at rest of military operations in the tribal areas but in the remote areas of pashtuns a lot of people think we ought to just call that pashtun land and the pashtuns live there but they don't respect that border
because it's an artificial thing. i really can't speak to it other than to say it's an all man's land in a way and the government of pakistan did not try to be there militarily until he got really bad and they did intervene when the foreign fighters are coming in. it wasn't just affecting afghanistan but the whole pakistan issue is one of the other major complications for that whole situation in afghanistan. the border is pretty porous and what they perceive as their security interest in afghanistan really complicates the whole idea of trying to come up with some kind of peaceful settlement in the region. a lot of people focused on the other story that were the and the were different country and the pashtuns i think historically with the breakup of
the british empire in south asia there was an attempt to create a pashtuns stand both in pakistan and afghanistan because it was tried before country. >> absolutely. >> coming right behind you. >> my understanding the present administration somehow thinks the street date -- to two gig interest of the pakistanis will be allied with aaron tristan just curious about your sentiment and if you think that's correct in it that can actually occur? >> probably their biggest concern from a foreign national security standpoint is india. india isn't that the number one security concern and afghanistan is seen as a buffer state if you
will and they don't want any influence in afghanistan and that's why the president trump the other day mentioned in his speech the idea first chastising afghanistan in than welcoming the idea of the indians investing in afghanistan. but their strategic interest is normalizing the alfonse of india in that region and specifically in afghanistan but as far as alignment our strategic interests align with pakistan. we want pakistan to be a stable country with nuclear weapons. we don't want terrorists running around the country they can get their hands on those weapons. and i don't think the government wants that either. that's one area where we can all agree on and for historic
reasons in the past the efforts in afghanistan when the russians had invaded and we were supplying mujahideen with arms through the pakistani and government of course and they have a long connection to a lot of these taliban elements the haqqani network for those years so there's this idea that there is this residual feeling of support and people who support these groups still within the government. they had tried to minimize that and we were geographically supporting them. i'm not involved in that anymore but it's always been a concern that through their service they are supporting some of these players in afghanistan. >> all the way in the back.
>> the taliban had it disproportionately negative impact on women. did you see any of that [inaudible] >> i don't see a single one in my entire time in afghanistan, not one. they were not allowed to be anywhere and i didn't think there are some statistics that show one good thing about involvement in afghanistan and not just other countries involved in afghanistan that are women and children and girls are going to school than they were. there was some progress there. the problem will be in the future going forward if the
taliban ultimately does take control or there is an agreement reached where they become part of the government and are willing to do that that they will fight against that just because of their traditional beliefs about the women. it's going to be a long hard road i think certainly on the idea of education for girls but some progress has been made and we should feel proud about that having happened in afghanistan. they wouldn't all be a loss if we left tomorrow. their health is overall better but making more progress is going to be hard. >> thank you for a really
interesting presentations. i have a few questions. the first question is your role with russia in afghanistan. you are helping with the planes coming in etc. etc.. is that i'm going and with the presence of russia has the relationships become more problematic and as a creative more problems for united states and the second question is iran obviously, iran has relationships often with the taliban but how do you see that with these strategic -- playing out going forward and to have solved the problem in afghanistan that relationships
have some common understanding with both russia and the u.n.. thank you. >> frankly i can't really speak so much to the whole -- you are talking current involvement in russia and afghanistan and trying to gain entrance into the country? i'm not in good position to comment way one way or another on that it. certainly they have had a host of historic interest in afghanistan and they are leaving their. they have a long-term connection to afghanistan and they see this as natural resources.
they want to gain influence their and going to afghanistan i really can't answer your question very well on the whole russian front. as far as the u.n. and america we often conflict with the u.n. and are not on the same sheet of music when we are trying to do things. any kind of a situation like in afghanistan situation is all the better if we are coordinating what we are doing and make sure we are not undermining each other. >> when you were there we are cognizant of the larger regional tensions? >> course iran is basically an enemy that taliban and they weren't able to offer to help us
during the attacks. the taliban is not a shia organization. they are wahhabi and they are not persians so there was a natural conflict there between them and iran wanted to help by the initial part could things have changed now and trying to get involved in afghanistan and again i trace that back frankly to the invasion of iraq with hussein. that was iran's counterbalance. when he went away you shouldn't be surprised that the iranians are gaining a lot of influence in the region. one leader was held in place so that is come back to haunt us in a lot of ways. we have time for one last
question. >> you mentioned the importance of the pashtun element. how did you reach or tried to reach the non-pashtun groups and what problems did you have with coordinating between the pashtuns and others? >> the only group we have that wasn't pashtun was we had a group of -- which i thought was great and i was so excited about that. i used to speak farsi so i was looking forward to talking to them in that language but it turns out they have such a thick accent that they would laugh at my speaking. they were the only pashtuns i worked with but the northern alliance was made up tajik send uzbek and i'm not sure if there
was any the czar -- the czars. we had a relationship through those teams that were operating with the northern alliance. they were basically up north where teams would work with one of the major commanders in the northern alliance the same thing with those guys in the northern alliance. they had an army so they had tanks and helicopters and artillery and all that. we had basically gorilla groups is what we were doing so we had relationships with those and we tried to pass information back and forth so they knew what was going on in the south that we knew what was going on in the north that kind of thing but we weren't directly dealing with it where i was. >> please join me in thanking duane evans.