tv A CIA Officer in Afghanistan After September 11 2001 CSPAN September 30, 2017 6:52pm-7:59pm EDT
could really get my hands around this. >> john f mosby. him as thekid i saw robin hood of the time. it is nota lot of true grade and hooked me into the story. it was the story of a guy doing this magical crazy things against this huge union army that he had no chance against. for me it was him. after that it grew into a deeper understanding. >> i think it was through my dad. he always had a great love for american history. i remember going back to the battlefields of virginia and gettysburg. that is how i got hooked into a bid i just found it incredibly fascinating.
it was really good the efforts of those weekend trips. >> it was all through my father paid the first amateur was when i was five years old. his first trip to a civil war battlefield was when he was five. after the generations. a toy and going out on the battlefield and hearing the storytelling. i came toer years find out that my father was not the most accurate. the confederate army seem to always win here at gettysburg. and it became this historical place that i wanted to win best live in. this time that i wanted to learn constantly about that context and those decisions. think that ties back to our
opening comments were we talked about preservation. you guys talked about being grounded in place and how that impacted your understanding and improve your interest rate if you do not have a place you connected hubs. that is the importance of preservation. you have those landscapes to walk on. for one or two questions if anyone has anything in the audience. alright, i just want to think the gettysburg heritage center for hosting us today. thank you for our friends at c-span. on behalf of my colleagues, we hope you enjoyed this. [applause] you are watching american history tv. all weekend everyone weekend. to join the conversation like us
on facebook. >> former c.i.a. officer dwayne evans talks about his book kandahar.n the international spy museum hosted this event it is just over one hour. >> let me introduce you to our guest today. that is athor expansion of our podcast series. we tend to do these conversations and private a couple of feet from. every quarter we choose one that stands out and we do it as a public viewing. that is for the community and you can get a chance to hear the author talk directly to you. we are excited especially to e evans.h duan
former cia officer serving as a chief of station which is many of you know is a senior field position. it is a recipient of the intelligence star of valor. prior to joining the agency he was in the special forces and military intelligence officers. he is a graduate of mexico state university. novel, oneuthor of a from calcutta and foxtrot in kan dahar. welcome, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. memoir,anyone writes a especially someone who is a former practitioner, the question is why? this is not just a memoir of your life. it is not when you are born, it is a memoir or a particular time in history. of this time.ot
why focus specifically on this time and not a book about your life in childhood? statedthe reason you that it is a special time and it was a very special time when it was emotional with this catalyst for my time in afghanistan was before the 9/11 attack. is the anniversary, it was such a powerful experience for me. i knew i wanted to write about it if only for myself. in years past i knew i had written a initial line for my own remembrance. the years passed and we continue to be involved in afghanistan. i realize how important that story was to me. i get to see it from a human interest and point and it may be and point and it may be
interesting to people at the historical account of the time. with the whole involvement, the cia and afghanistan with that initial time very unique. it was under extraordinary circumstances. could write something that focuses exclusively on that they did not go into those things you mentioned. lot of people who come on the podcast for the museum and many of them have nightmare stories about a publication or award. you actually talk about operations and the methods and circumstances. you had very little trouble doing this. and you talk about how that all happened, is there something we might want to know with your experience? purposeful when you are writing. duane: definitely it was purposeful because i did not
want to run into a lot of problems. what theood sense of publications review board is looking for in terms of what they would censor out. looking for classified information. particularly regarding the protection of sources. and a -- wrote the book way that protected those sources and methods. the nature of the method of what we were doing in afghanistan is that your classic espionage operations. the book is not about writing with intelligence reporting. all of that was going on. i did not focus on that because team of not the main the book. it was not the main thing that we were doing. because it was a paramilitary operation for the most part and a lot of it became public anyway this was now 16 years after the fact there have been things written dealt with this that
have been written about afghanistan from the north. things that had been approved doing in the north usually with the policy if it has been approved or something similar has been approved that they mayite about it initially sate you cannot do it. if you can point to another book and it was fine they will reconsider and allow you to publish. quest we brought up 9/11 and how it is the anniversary of it. people people few young -- just about everybody here probably remembers where they were during 9/11. people -- just about everybody here probably remembers where they were during 9/11. others seemed to be
running the wall for the american public? >> it is very interesting. i was only a few blocks from here. i was at the fbi headquarters. it is a gentleman in the audience who is a dear friend of mine who happen to be with me. i did not know he was going to be here. he has showed up. i will call him frank. he was a fbi special agent. i was on leave at the time. i had just come back from overseas. i was on a extended leave. i was looking at a long leave and i was not supposed to go to work until october. i was going to be a cia liaison officer. rent was working with me and brought a foreign delegation to visit the fbi and to take them to the cia headquarters as well for a briefing on international
terrorism. he invited me to join me at the afghani headquarters to join this group. some of whom i knew. and get a two are of the building. to beght since i was good a liaison officer it would be a great opportunity. frank and i go with you a lot operations, we had other dramatic expenses that we went through. got a me outside and we cappuccino. injuring the day. we were just waiting for the delegation. to the fbi headquarters and their operations center. a.m. wehere around 9:00 cannot find the person we were supposed to meet. to escortre asked
them out of the operations center. there had been a incident in new york or a plane hit a building. we assumed it was a small plane and went downstairs. we went to the cafeteria and we did not know what to do. that is what we saw the news report for the first time. we saw what was really going on. this is something major. much bigger than what any of us had a magic. it was quite a shock. moment when the second plane hit the building i knew that it was al qaeda. i instantly knew that there was no question in my mind who had done it. i knew that we would be going to war. i knew i had to be part of that. >> you have been focus on counterterrorism for years. you were there during a weird time one month before the
african bombing of 1998 you are at one of the embassies talking about how bad the security was. that is correct, i happened to be there by chance in nairobi. theretalking to a officer about their poor security. there or physical security of the embassy. we were standing in the exact spot where a truck bomb was going to detonate and killed five people. i was overseas at the time when that attack happened. i was back at my station. i went out to visit africa and i saw that newspaper that morning. of where theph bomb had gone off. i knew right where the place was. it was where i and the officer stood. the embassy officer
understood the security issue. duane: absolutely. it was not a surprise to them. they had requested the move locations. i have been going on for quite some time. the officer told me at that moment we know it is notable. they are not going to do anything because the ambassador has not seen any changes. you mentioned watching the tv coverage of 9/11 you knew we were at war. most people understand that the cia ramped up immediately which would be the global war on terrorism. whatever word you want to use. to warm up aspted fast as we could. there were bureaucracies getting in the way. one of the biggest issues is
that the near east division focusing on that area of the world had potential responsibility for afghanistan. at the same time with the counterterrorism operation. there was the cia. it is some of these rivalries go out and cause problems? for meme a problem immediately. i was caught between the two. i was in the nsa division is my home base. then i was on location in the counterterrorism center. happened as soon as the traffic cleared out i went to headquarters. i said i am coming off of leave and i am here. i want to help. they did not know who was in charge.
was kind of being debated. which has the mission of counterterrorism. those decisions were made at a very high level. they were made relatively quickly. initially no one knew who was going to take the lead on the cia response to 9/11. it took a while to play out. ultimately it would play a very important supporting role. findly could not information. grexit cannot find your file. >> the new office for the counterterrorism sector was
wanted volunteers of course. they wanted to make sure they had the people they wanted. only a handful of people formed up and they said they have to that you. and they could not find my file. they did not have it so they could not read my file. i knew the person who is going to be the chief of special operations and when he came back he said we can take him. >> let's talk about afghanistan, that is the focus here. just figure out afghanistan was there. they knew about it back in the 1980's. planning there was happening in afghanistan. there was a liaison in place. there were constant attempts to keep in contact. rep. fortenberry: 11, this is
something many people do not know the history of. the top person of the alliance that we would have immediately reached out to work with was assassinated. >> he was the leader of the northern alliance. three or four days later he was assassinated by a couple of people posing as journalists. they had been waiting for days to see him. finally at the last minute he said i will see them. they killed him. the problem that it immediately presented was he was very charismatic of the northern alliance. when he was killed this was the day before 9/11. that 9/11 happened. we had this liaison going that we could turn to their leader
had just been assassinated. i don't know if it has ever been proven or know that that assassination was done as part .f the whole plot for 9/11 in anticipated we know what we did. i don't know, i can't speak to that. >> the timing is so coincidental. it is extraordinary. a first shot to be of 9/11 for that. back to bureaucracy. it is kind of current here. we want to go and do something about it. with a special operations the problem that you lay out is one that all of us who have that expense for ourselves is. no one in other units once to give up their best people to you what to go fight the war on terrorism. as leadership to the cia why
would you give this up with your top operators? i say in my book i call that a failure of leadership. we had so many senior officers continueally wanted to as if nothing had happened with management personnel. when the request were made to join our sco. we had to fight to get those officers. whether they were division chiefs and they did not want to give them up. they did not recognize my view that the world had changed with 9/11. this was not going to be the standard thing the cia did for a while. things are going to change here. we needed people who had previous military skill. frankly there were not that many
that have those commendations of talents. we really needed them. we often run into problems with their chiefs or the station chiefs not wanting to give them up. >> it you perceive it as a believe that this counterterrorism thing was a blip in the mission and it would go back to being normal. was that your perception of the leadership? >> i knew this was major and a changer. changer. >> that you perceive that they were thinking that way? and that is what they were unwilling? >> they had made comments to that fact. it was going to change and things will go back to normal. we will have our regular mission and i heard that kind of talk. that kind of philosophy was there. i found it very disappointing. the wrongto give impression. there were enough people who felt that way that did not let a
difficult. ultimately i think we got what because he said he would support with the mission was. weigh-in and get the people of eventually. the lookout was cia officers who had military background. you fit that role. it had been a while. did you have to retrain yourself very quickly with the stuff you have learned in the past? you had been in a commercial. there is a great story of you that you can tell or not. when you hit the ground you are working with people who were in people hadrations
more recent military experience. >> how high was that learning curve to come back and relearn some of those skills that you had before. >> i do not have time to relearn anything. probably already qualified for my previous service. that was not a big issue. what i was really in the dark more was for the communications equipment. a couple of had special operators that were given as part of the team. i'd did have time to relearn all that. i had to rely on people with those skills. the advantage for me was i understood the environment and being out in the field and that
kind of living. that is the kind of thing we are having to contend with. it had been a while but i felt pretty much at home. >> sorry to interrupt you but i think it is its ordinary. most people who get deployed think they are on the moon because it is such a foreign environment for so many people who grew up in the united states. a lot of people thought they were going to the desert which is only a small portion of afghanistan. you said it was like being at home that can new mexico going fishing and hunting. felt sos, i really comfortable because of the natural environment. it is so familiar to me in terms of what i saw and what i felt. when i was a kid all i did was hunt. it was very natural. i did not feel like i was in a
alien environment. i had to remind myself this was a war zone. >> let me ask you about your arrival there. to did not go directly afghanistan you went to pakistan first. this shows another level of bureaucratic tension within the cia. up until 9/11 at the you guys showed up with the operations there afghanistan have been controlled by the station in pakistan. thatdid not quite realize the world had changed as dramatically as it had. talk a little bit about that tension. >> i think they understood the significance of what had happened. i think what changed and maybe they had not realized that organizationally when they were formed up. then there role became different
. previously and afghanistan we had to have a station. being closest.t they were a station in exile. i don't say you can use the term control. responsible for leading the cia operations in afghanistan up until 9/11. ofy were given the mission running and managing the cia response to 9/11 inside afghanistan. that was from the cia standpoint. think they saw themselves as the premier leader in that regard. they don't want to underestimate
what the role was. it is a huge important role. they were not in charge any longer. there was friction. even before i got out of pakistan there were plenty of whereications between there was a lot of friction. different ideas of how we should proceed to the war. when i went out there with a colleague of mine we were pretty byh seen as the enemy certain members of the station. grexit central figure in afghanistan was a controversial figure because his rise to power win againsta huge the taliban. raid was seen as less successful. you knew him pretty well.
with a lot of other people. being a knock on the wall for him. describe a little bit about who he was as a man? you did not describe him in the book without positive especially since a lot of the negative be has been there. and thereo know him was a brief time i was with them. i was right in the room next door. i got to spend a lot of time with him during that timeframe. officerse other agency they got to know him much better than i did. at that point in time i did get to know him and i saw him later on. i know about the negative things that have come out since. in my book i wrote
retrospectively i did not want to have that impact of how i felt about him. i wanted to portray him as i knew him then. i was extremely impressed by the man. i knew i was in the presence of a this oracle figure. he was strongly focused on bringing afghanistan and the -- just a gentleman. him beingagine corrupt. he was extremely rife. he had gone into afghanistan by himself. before this rebellion started with the taliban. i have nothing but respect for him at the time. i genuinely liked him. i don't know anyone who didn't. the president and afghanistan -- there have been
different things that have been set about him. i was not working with them. i have to say though he had a tough road. he was trying to balance all of this conflicting interest in afghanistan. with the leader of his own country. sometimes when he would make a decision that we as americans would not like i think we were failing to realize he is in charge of his own country. he is trying to act in the best interest. he is trying to balance all of this. i can't imagine how he could get the job. >> he went in with a team that you are supposed to be on. you got bumped at the last minute. early at the last minute because of space. happens because of a helicopter cannot hold enough people. meetingpoint you end up
people that would become the title of the book. are matched up with another afghan who gets a nickname. let's talk a little bit about him. i am not sure he could be anymore different than karzai. personality. he was a different man. he had been the governor up until the taliban had taken over. exile forn living in a number of years. people say he was to go back and fight. if you really up to the task to do that. he had to prove himself, that was kind of the idea. countryhe went into the and set up a base just inside of afghanistan.
there were a armed group of guys with equipment. basically they showed some capability for engaging the taliban. when that decision was made kind in and the next day i am called back and they're going to use a different team. that was talked about for some time. then it was like we'll have four days to do this. my next question was going to be about this team. do you have very little time to prepare for this but everything from your communications, weapons and everything is very much scrapped together what you can find. talk a little bit about the problems. not only is a different
philosophically but that are going to be two different people. but you probably think about him humble and sure as i is bigger than life. how difficult was it to get that team put together? then to deal with that personality? >> one of the difference was language. his english is really better than mine. she as i spoke no english. use a interpreter who was a great guy. him i hadd to talk to to talk to the interpreter. you had that difference there.
can't speak to him in my own native language. that is a important factor that people forget about. was more, he was a hands-on kind of guy. karzai was a intellectual. which more sophisticated in the way he thought about things in the way he acted. as far as going together with the team. it was kind of difficult. had we ended up doing, we no communication initially. to help anybody if i cannot talk to anybody? we manage it should together some communications equipment. what of the guys that was coming with me, he was coming out of the station. he had no weapons in the station and they have issued all of their handguns.
they were climbing up on the rafters with a handgun. not get a rifle until we got into the country. so it was basic stuff. >> for mark, it may have been the weapon. >> he was not too thrilled about that. we got that worked out. ton fortunately we found task force who were there. detailed which was a miracle frankly. they were detailed to our team. i say that because we actually had to get donald rumsfeld signature to have these guys come in with us to afghanistan. at least for part of the gear.
>> and think that is very the ciaing because with and special operations have been working a little bit together before 9/11. 9/11 changed everything. with the demarcation between the military and special operations and cia. it is simply gone. of thoseginning forces. how was the relationship between the cia and special operations? >> these are separate command and separate bureaucracy. initial months and weeks i would say it was almost seamless. becausethe reason was it was also motivated. went back here at home and about how everyone came together. with the military and afghanistan. we knew where everything was. there was really no friction on the ground.
i was with a special forces team. we never had any conflict at all. was because we were so mission focus. arm.ve a era military that is made up entirely of guys from the military services many from different special operations. they are very familiar with the military. paramilitary teams were made up of officers. they are very like-minded with their military colleagues and who they are working with. i have the same everything. the differences they had a little bit of a different mission at that point. our mission was intelligence collection and providing supplies. we have other capabilities as well.
in this case working with the special forces guys, their support theto afghans who were fighting on the ground. understood each other's role. that is critical. there was friction. friction. they are not saying they are stepping on our toes. we knew what we are supposed to be doing. vince: while it was moving smoothly, there was friction between people on the ground and headquarters back at langley or the pentagon. several times you discuss the perception, the disconnect in understanding between the people back at headquarters and people in the field. you use the phrase "different worlds." you talk about close air support. there is a part of the book where you are called back to headquarters to do a report and a colleague had been calling in, and the person on the other end
that you are talking to did not understand what was happening. coffee you had dropped versus avon. and the horse feed story i wanted to tell. and when somebody at -- died, they used the word shocked in response. they realized, this is a battlefield, people will die. duane: i think that is a natural thing that happens between a filled element and headquarters -- field element and headquarters element. they are in two different worlds and sometimes they do not gel very well. for a while the fear that i had, we had military guys with us, but i cannot send any texts. every report i had to dictate. i am any tactical environment and it will dictate every report. normally we type it and shoot it
to the satellite. so that was in the middle of the night, 2:00 in the morning, for headquarters it is 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon roughly. so they are in different worlds, literally. and in that case we were calling, i was not but the leader was calling about the convoys coming in on us. one my 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 says, what was that? did you drop your coffee cup? [laughter] duane: i did not even answer. i just continued on. then the horse feed, another example, a lot of the teams were operating in the north and the used horses. and i was mad i did not have a team of horses. i grew up with horses. really upset about
that, but it would've been kind of cool. anyway, what happened -- we would get your supplies, they would be parachuted to us. we would have to go out and get what they had dropped us and send a report back. one day, this was at night when they drop them, we got our supplies and we unloaded them and they were two bags of horse feed. and you know, so we do a report, and i have to check anything before it goes out because it is going out my signature, so to speak. everything is good. it is a routine report. lot oft probably put a attention onto what it said. after i sent the message to headquarters, i am looking at the feed and the different messages and i was reading it and somebody, not me, one of my teammates, probably the paramilitary guy, just to make
sure they understood we did not have courses, when we put two bags of course feed -- horse feed, in parentheses they put, f--ingnot have any courses." not pute knodid "f--ing." [laughter] duane: and we are not supposed to use curse words. and i'm looking at it with my signature. vince: there will be a historian and 80 years that will be looking at the document and it will give them a good chuckle. what is amazing to me is despite all of this, the bureaucrats, the fact it was thrown together at the last minute, you actually were the first group into kandahar, the ultimate target of several of these operations and foxtrot was the first team in. and you hunkered down in the governor's palace and you were
able to go back and lead the paramilitary aside and do some intelligence work. can you tell us about that? duane: i would like to say, yes, we were the first team in and very proud of it. echo team came in, the half of the team came in after that. we were ideally going to be hitting kandahar at the same time, but they had just a few days before been hit by a bomb and it killed some people, including two of the people they were with. the echo team working with us before was switched to foxtrot. wounded everybody else on the oda. bitso they were the laid a -- delayed a bit. they came the next day. vince: i am giving you a chance to take a victory lap. duane: i know. [laughter] duane: it was not the cia guys,
it was also the other guys entering the same time. they were involved in that. anyway, you mentioned, you mentioned the compound. vince: you got a chance to do some hard-core intelligence. duane: headquarters had already prepared a list of places they want us to raid. that is where al qaeda had been headquartered, the main sanctuary for them. so we were hoping we were going to maybe capture some of them. we actually captured or killed some of the al qaeda on the way to kandahar in a village we held for 10 days, when we were trying to get into kandahar and we had to go past the airport because it was being held by the bad guys. when we were able to get by, we got to kandahar and started going after the targets that headquarters had said to raid. we were hoping to capture more guys, figuring they had probably
gone by now, or at least get intel. we did get some intel, no question the most important casingas a, basically a report and attack plan to attack the u.s. naval ship in single port by -- in singapore by a cell in asia. so photos, diagrams, everything, it would be on the scale of like -- vince: the coral vincent is a massive nuclear power aircraft carrier. duane: right. vince: i'm saying it could have been catastrophic beyond the level of -- duane: so that report got out immediately of course. it took some weeks, but they rounded up everybody in southeast asia and the whole cell was wrapped up. i feel like that above any single thing made it worthwhile
for the entire team to send it in, because we do not know how many sailors could have been killed. there were other targets, international targets they were going to go after as well. vince: and people may know the name padilla's as well. and you did not know at the time that what you got would actually lead to that. duane: al qaeda, believe it or not, they are very bureaucratic in their keeping notes and things, keeping track. they have an application form for those that want to become a member. appliedhey had, he had and we had boxes of stuff we had gotten at the governor's compound that had been held by the taliban and al qaeda before we moved in. there was stuff they had not gotten rid of. we found it. it was his application form and it had fingerprints on it and it was used by mark who had done the sorting, and who testified
in his trial, as the chain of custody of the information. vince: so if you are starting a terrorist organization, leave behind the bureaucracy, maybe have a streamlined approach to the application process. we talked about bureaucracy, but one time the cia and others actually get out of your way is the most important and that is when you now have two afghan leaders in the same city, brought in by two different team ande sherzai karzai team, who are rivals in many ways. and instead of telling you what to do from langley, you actually were asked to mediate and you are given power to try to resolve the problem. duane: exactly. there was always tension, because they are opposing, they are coming in with the same objective, kandahar.
and for sherzai it was coming back to take the governorship back. that is what he was after. karzai, even then we were hoping he would come out on top of everything and to be the future leader of afghanistan. but so there is -- and sherzai knows this, so there is friction roles and allrent that. even though they actually have a very familiar relationship. i think they are second cousins, or maybe first cousins, they are related. what happened is when we finally him --ndahar, karzai of assumed primacy, before he became the leader of afghanistan he took charge in a way and he was willing to -- he wanted the former governor, the taliban wantedr of kandahar, he him to become sort of a security
chief of kandahar province to help breach and bring in the taliban to lay down their arms. he had a reason to do this. sherzai hated this guy. there was no way. he was helping the al qaeda guys in hiding to get out of the country. so he was like, no way. not going to happen. so there was real friction. this is important that they stay united because the taliban is postunes, sohese we could not afford for them to be split. vince: like 40% of the population is a -- as well, so that could break the entire country. duane: absolutely. so we had to kind of lay down the law so to speak, and greg, the echo team leader he was very
close to karzai at that point, after all they had been through, and myself with sherzai, and i brought mark because he was from the station and he knew sherzai, so we go to the meeting between the two of them to kind of sort things out. basically we were told, hey, you have to come to an agreement. this is for the good of the country. you have to get this resolved. and to his credit, karzai said let me do my own checking into this reporting about the guy helping, the guy he wanted to appoint helping al qaeda get out. he used his own sources and he was able to confirm what we were telling him. at that point he said, that is fine, we will not appoint him to security. sherzai was happy. and it was all resolved. vince: until 10 minutes later, when -- [indiscernible] vince: before we go to the
questions, start thinking about that now, 16 years and we are still there and it does not look like it is getting significantly better. based on your experiences, can we have peace in afghanistan without including the taliban, whether it is a little taliban or whatever we want or how we want to define them? and is there a military solution we have not been able to find in the last 16 years? what is your prognosis moving forward? duane: i do not think, unless we want to just completely turn into a much larger than what we did before with 100,000 troops, and i do not think anybody is ready to do that or want to do that, so i do not think there is a military solution to the problems in afghanistan. aftervery hopeful right december 2001, we had pretty
good success and the taliban was out of office, on their heels, and i thought there would be a chance to get the country up and running and unified and have a stable country, but i am not nearly as hopeful any longer. you have to look at the history behind it, behind the country. this is nothing, what is going on now is nothing new, it has been going on a long time. einstein said, i think, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. i think there is a little bit of that going on in afghanistan. we were hopeful and had good intentions, but it is a tough country. it is a primitive country. geographically it is isolated. and it is ethnically divided. it has so many internal types of divisions. and it manages, when it does not
have foreign forces it seems to get along ok and it has moved along pretty well, coming together when there is a foreign invasion like the russians or the persians or the mongols -- vince: or the british. duane: right. they have not done that to the united states yet and i think that is partly because we have gone about it a little bit smarter, but i think the longer it goes the greater the risk of that happening. i do not think there is a military solution. in my book, really, the only solution is a negotiated peace, but unfortunately i do not think the taliban right now is in a position where they want to negotiate. i think we need to think about leaving afghanistan. not hightailing out immediately, but we need to give up on the idea that we are going to build this nation into a stable country. vince: was it winnable in december 2001 or 2002?
duane: i think where we got off of,k, i think our best hope from the nationbuilding standpoint and all that,, was really the first couple years. unfortunately i think the u.s. screwed up when we made iraq. at that point, and i can speak to this because i was at a job in dealing with afghanistan at headquarters, and all the focus of the government basically really went to iraq. and we went into a hole in afghanistan. in terms of resources and all that. we were still trying to do stuff, but if we had not invaded iraq and we had focused on afghanistan, especially after the success of 2001, that would've been the best opportunity to stabilize the place and be gone, or mostly gone. and unfortunately the opportunity has come and gone and i do not think we will get it back. vince: we will open it up to
questions. if you can wait until sean or amanda bring you a microphone. please raise your hand. write down here. sean is coming to you. audience member: can you talk about the federally administered tribal areas and -- travel areas and how it became an issue on getting control of the areas and how it became an escape point for people to get into? duane: that area, people refer to it as the no man's land and the pakistani government has, it is an economist region and -- an economist region and they have kept the forces out of that, but i'm not going to pretend imf historian, but where it became an issue is with the taliban and al qaeda, some coming into the area and they could go to those travel areas, leave and go into those areas, and they were pretty much -- um, not going to
be attacked at that point, early on. they changed. they started doing military operations into those travel areas. those are very remote areas. and you know, a lot of people think we should just erase the border and on either side call it -- land. those groups that live there they do not even respect the boarrder. i really cannot speak to it. because it was a no man's land that the government of pakistan did not try to intervene militarily until things got bad. and they started intervening. foreign fighters started coming in and is stored of -- it started going into pakistan. but the whole pakistan issue is one of the other major complications to the whole situation in afghanistan, because of the borders, because what they perceive
as their strategic interests, it really complicates coming up with a peaceful settlement in the region. vince: i think a lot of people focus on the story of the kurds and how they are in four different countries, and these groups are the same basic idea. historically with the break above, you know, the british empire in south asia, there was an attempt to create a group that would be both in pakistan and afghanistan, because they see themselves as tribes, tribes before country. duane: absolutely. absolutely they do. vince: yes? she is coming right behind you. audience member: so it is my understanding that the president of the image ration somehow thinks that the interest of the pakistanis can be aligned with our interests. i am curious about your
assessment of that. do you think it could actually occur? and what are the strategic interests of the pakistanis as it relates to afghanistan? duane: probably their biggest concern from a security standpoint is india. india is in fact their number one security concern. and afghanistan is seen as a buffer state, if you will, and they do not want indians to have influence in afghanistan, that is why president trump mentioned in his speech the other day, theytising the fact that -- did not welcome the idea of indians investing in afghanistan. but that is their strategic interest, it is minimizing the influence of india in the region and specifically in afghanistan. as far as aligning, there are
places where our interests should align with pakistan. we want them to be a stable country. and we do not want terrorists running around the country to get their hands on weapons. and i do not think that government wants that either. that is one area we can agree on. where it gets dicey is, just for historical reasons and the pakistani government involvement in afghanistan, which we were working with them on when the russians invaded, we were supplying them with arms and a doing that basically through the pakistani government, through their intel sources. connectionve a long to a lot of these taliban elements. the networks that they had worked with over the years. so there is an idea that there is residual feelings of support or, people who support these groups still within the
government. and the paks have tried to minimize that. but i do not know. i'm not involved with it anymore. but that has always been a concern, that through their service, supporting some of these players in afghanistan that we are at war with. vince: all the way in the back. audience member: the taliban had a disproportionately negative impact on women. how do you think the role of women, did you see any of that? i know the u.s. government is spending a lot of money now -- [indiscernible] duane: i can tell you i do not see a single woman my entire time in afghanistan. not one. they are just not allowed to be anywhere, especially where a foreigner could be. i do think there are some
statistics, if you will, that shows that one good thing about our involvement in afghanistan, and other countries that have been involved, that more women and children, girls, are going to school then there were. so there has been progress. i think the problem will be in the future going forward is if the taliban either takes control, or if there is an agreement reached where they become part of the -- and are willing to do that, that they will be fighting against that because of their traditional beliefs on the role of women. so it will be a long, hard road butink on a lot of fronts, certainly on the idea of equal rights, education for girls. but some progress has been made and i think that we should feel proud about that having happened in afghanistan, so even if we
left tomorrow it would not all be a loss. there has been progress. their health is over all better. making more progress is going to be hard. let's go to the back ther e also. audience member: let me thank you for a really interesting presentation. but i have a few questions. the first is regarding the role of the -- the russians in afghanistan. the planesping with coming in, is the ongoing? and the american president with russia, as relationships become more problematic, maybe you can talk about that. and second question, the u.n. obviously, they have quite tense
relationships with often the taliban, but also tense relationships with the united states. how do you see that playing out going forward, and you believe ultimately to have solved the problem in afghanistan, that better relationships will ultimately be needed, or realized, or some common understandings come to with both russia and the u.n.? thank you. frankly, i cannot really speak so much to the whole russian -- you are talking current involvement of russia and afghanistan and trying to gain influence. i am not any good position to comments one way or another on that. i think it is certainly -- they have had an interest in afghanistan.
their invasion, we know, and then leaving there probably resulted in the demise of the soviet union. so they have a long-term connection to afghanistan and they may see this as, you know, there are some wealth in afghanistan in terms of natural resources. so they may want to gain influence there and try to have more influence in the region in general, going through afghanistan. but i cannot answer your question very well on the whole question of front. and as far as the u.n. and americans, we often conflict with the u.n., or we are not on the same sheet of music when we are trying to do things. you are actually right in that if we were in a situation like afghanistan, if we are there in a big way and the u.n. is there, it is all the better if we are
really coordinating what we are doing and make sure we are not undermining each other. but beyond that -- vince: when you were there, where you cognizant of any of the larger regional tensions? iran was basically an enemy of the taliban. they offered to help us after the 9/11 attacks because the taliban is not a shiite organization, and so there was a natural -- also, they are not persians, so there was a natural conflict between them and the iranians were willing to help us. things have changed now. and now there are a lot of news reports about how they are trying to get involved in afghanistan and giving support to one group or another. i trace that back frankly to the invasion of iraq, when we
eliminated saddam hussein, that was the counterbalance in the region. when he was away, we should not be surprised that the iranians are gaining a lot of influence now in the region. we took out one guy, one leader that was holding them in place. so that has come back to haunt us in a lot of ways. vince: time for one last question. right here in front. mentionedember: you how you reached out and the ents.tance of the -- elem to what extent did you try to reach the other groups and what problems did you have with coordinating between others? duane: we -- the only group we had that was not like that was a group of his are as -- and i
was so excited about that. and we kind of spoke the same liquid and it was looking forward to speaking with them, but they have such a thick accent that they would be laughing at me. but that was the only other group. in the north, that was, the northern area was made up of his decks -- uzbeks. and i'm not sure -- there were some with the northern alliance. so we had a relationship with all of those. the agency did, anyway. with those teams operating with the northern alliance. basically in the north, the teams would work with one of the major commanders from the northern alliance and they were doing the same with those guys. they had an army of their, tanks -- up there, tanks, helicopters and all that. we did not have an army, but we basically had guerrilla groups. so we had relationships