Do the Job and Get Out

by David H. Hackworth

It was a big week for television: Osama bin Laden, currently Numero Uno monster on our Hit Parade list, sharing prime time with our first-rate warriors in and over Afghanistan.

First, the video marathon of OBL and his gleeful pals sitting around on pillows, hugging, kissing, high-fiving and hissing. You know, the Top Ten Tape where weird-looking cats are speaking in tongues, sipping tea, sharing nightmares and praising Allah for what a neat job their gang of goons pulled off murdering thousands of innocent noncombatants whose big worry before Sept. 11 was lunch. For those of the Greatest Generation, it must have been like watching a 1940 movie of Adolf Hitler cheerily extolling the efficiency of his latest-model oven.

The tube kept flicking from OBL gloating with his groupies to maneuvers in Afghanistan that would have to be the most eclectic military operations in history: mobs of primitive warriors with horses, mules and junkyard pickup trucks at the bomb craters of Tora Bora looking as soldierly as Ringling Bros. circus clowns, being supported by the most sophisticated weaponry warfare has ever known.

Good intelligence sources say OBL has vowed never to be taken alive. The word is, "He'll self-vaporize" as we're about to grab him. If that's the scenario, be prepared for rumors galore and OBL sightings well into the next century, kind of like what happened with Elvis. Of course, there'll also be the T-shirt -- Osama at the Eternal Oasis.

But no matter what goes down with OBL, all proclamations of victory will only make these twisted terrorists -- who've been programmed to hate us since they were training in demolition diapers -- even more determined to do their evil thing. Their loathing of us won't disappear in clouds of bomb dust.

Watching the tape only reinforced my conviction that we need to wipe out OBL's worldwide Al-Qaeda network along with the rest of the terrorists from Algeria to Zambia. It's clear that these zealots from hell are all hustling hard for the big bang. And once they get the lethal chemicals, the bugs and nuke bombs in their hands, bet on them being used.

Speed is of the essence here -- either we close these monsters down, or we get closed down by them. For centuries, if not forever.

There are more than 60 states around the globe that currently provide support and sanctuary to terrorists. In some places, like Afghanistan and Iraq, we'll need to use a lot of military muscle, while in others, like the Philippines, where there are competent, reliable friendlies, we'll only need to provide advisers, intelligence info and resources.

The key to this long-term global campaign is to get in, do the job, then get out fast. In Afghanistan, for example, once we've terminated OBL's gang, we need to get our military out ASAP.

I worry about our Marines now defending the Kandahar airport. Lebanon in 1983, when 242 Marines and sailors were killed by a truck bomb while sitting like ducks on a dumb mission, keeps coming to mind. Or how our Rangers were sucked into an ambush in Somalia in 1993, losing 18 good men because overeager COs went for the bait. Have no doubt that there are Taliban fanatics in Afghanistan standing in line for just such a ticket to punk Paradise. Once that airport is running and U.N. troops arrive, they must free up our Marines to move on to the next objective.

Another reason for splitting Afghanistan just as soon as our military objectives -- taking out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leadership and military -- are reached is that the country's become one big minefield. There are more than 10 million mines scattered across that war-ravaged land, vicious weapons that have already drawn Marine blood in Kandahar and accounted for one-third of our casualties in Vietnam. And then there's the problem identifying the bad guys when almost every male packs an AK-47 and changes sides as fast as he can change his turban.

The longer we stay in a hot spot, the more we're asking for trouble. No question that whoever's set on replacing OBL will try to make his bones by taking American warriors out. We must not overstay our unwelcome.

http://www.hackworth.com is the address of David Hackworth's home page. Sign in for the free weekly Defending America column at his Web site. Send mail to P.O. Box 11179, Greenwich, CT 06831.

(c) 2001 David H. Hackworth
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.