In late 2001, most Americans were still reeling from the coordinated terrorist attacks that shook the entire world. However, a very select few – members of the CIA’s highly trained Team Echo – found themselves in Afghanistan leading Operation Jawbreaker, America’s first retaliation against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Unfortunately, some of them would learn that friendly fire is just as deadly as the enemy’s.
Team Echo, led by an agent known only as “Greg,” operated in southern Afghanistan, a volatile and dangerous region of the world that was infested with lethal terrorist cells. Their mission was to expose and destroy members of Al Qaeda who had participated in the attacks of 9/11 (and were thought to be plotting even more terrorism).
It was a treacherous mission that called for great courage and precise execution of the multi-phased military strategy. Anything less might result in total disaster. Sadly, during Team Echo’s push toward Kandahar, they found out just how costly mistakes can be.
In the middle of one of the Taliban’s counterattacks, an Echo operative decided to replace the batteries on his Global Positioning Satellite device, but while doing so, carelessly erased the coordinates of the enemy’s position. With fresh batteries installed, his GPS then reset to its own location and marked it as the enemy stronghold! The operator then unwittingly transmitted those coordinates to U.S. aircraft circling overhead.
Within moments, a precision-guided bomb landed amongst the CIA operatives and their paramilitary allies. All of the men on the ground were stunned by the enormous concussion, and several members of Team Echo and their Afghan allies were even killed.
As the Taliban fighters continued to press their attack, Echo operatives quickly regrouped, cared for the wounded, and fought off the enemy. The Americans were ultimately victorious, but they learned just how crucial it is to know where your friends are in war.
In life, it’s just as important. King Solomon knew this truth and wrote:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Keep a close eye on your friends. You don’t know how badly you might need them one day.
The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton. Penguin Press, 2012, Page 251.
Topics Illustrated Include:
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)