One aspect of the Afghanistan conflict that I think will stick in time's craw the hardest is what we allowed Pakistan to do. I was lucky enough to be at the table at C5F when this all kicked off - one of the many quiet O4s in the back of the room watching and listening as the big guys got us ready for what was to come.
From almost day-1, a regular refrain - besides looking for sidearms and chem gear for all the terrorists with mustard gas mortar shells that intel told us could show up any day from Iraq ... ahem ... - was how we could not let Pakistan be for Afghanistan what Cambodia and Laos was for the North Vietnamese.
"No safe havens!" we told ourselves literally over and over as Task Force K-Bar was put together ... but then the folks in DC and Tampa had different ideas, and almost immediately Pakistan was allowed to be a safe haven.
There were all sorts of reasons, but we did what we did - ground convoys and airspace don't become permissive on their own dontchaknow. Of course we had to go in a decade ago down the street from Pakistan's West Point to kill Osama.
Pakistan has played on both sides of the field in Afghanistan, contributing to the Taliban's success, a senior US senator has reminded his colleagues, a day after Washington announced plans to withdraw all troops from the war-torn Asian country by September 11.
Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed, on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, said "a crucial factor contributing immensely to the Taliban's success" has been the inability of the US to "eliminate the "eliminate the sanctuary the Taliban was granted in Pakistan."
Referring to a recent study, Reed said the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan and state support from organisations, like Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been essential to their war effort and the US' failure to undermine this safe haven may be Washington's most significant mistake of the war.
Senator Reed (D-RI) was and is one of the good guys. I know he's seen the same intel I've seen ... and a lot more.
With time, the larger American public will find out more that game Pakistan played.
We should not be forgiving. We should not forget.