Within a few weeks the Northern Alliance, with assistance from the US ground and air forces, captured several key cities from the Taliban. They conducted largely uneventful reconnaissance tasks under the code-name Operation Determine, none of these tasks resulted in enemy contact; they traveled in Land Rover Desert Patrol Vehicles known as Pinkies and modified ATVs. After a fortnight, with missions drying up, both squadrons returned to their barracks in the UK. Before the Rangers dropped, the site was softened up by B-2 Spirit stealth bombers.
The Rangers met almost no resistance, except for a solitary Taliban fighter who was quickly killed, securing the objective. A small Taliban force mounted in pick up trucks that attempted to investigate was spotted and destroyed by the ACs. The helicopter crashed due to a brownout. At the same time, a squadron of Delta Force operatives supported by Rangers from Task Force Sword conducted an operation outside of Kandahar at a location known as Objective Gecko — its target was Mullah Omar, who was suspected to be at his summer retreat in the hills above Kandahar.
The assault teams were drawn from Delta, while teams from the Rangers secured the perimeter and manned blocking positions. The assaulters met no resistance on target and there was no sign of the Taliban leader, so they switched to exploiting the target location for any intelligence, while their helicopters landed at Rhino to refuel at the newly established FARP. As the teams prepared to extract, a sizable Taliban force approached the compound and engaged the US force with small arms fire and RPGs.
One of the MHEs lost a wheel assembly after striking the compound wall in the scramble to extract the ground force. Some 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the firefight; there were no US soldiers killed, but 12 Delta operators were wounded. Alpha rode on horseback with the Uzbek Warlord General Dostum to his headquarters to plan the impending assault on Mazar-e-Sharif.
Bravo was tasked with clearing the Dari-a-Souf Valley of Taliban and to travel into the Alma Tak Mountains to get a good look at its area of operations. Two weeks into the campaign, the Northern Alliance demanded the air campaign focus more on the front lines. They called in air strikes on targets, pounding Taliban vehicles, antiaircraft weapons, armored vehicles, their trenches, and ammunition supplies.
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The United States conducted its own psychological warfare operation with ECE Commando Solo aircraft beaming radio transmissions in both Dari and Pashtu to the Afghan civilian population. Radios were dropped with humanitarian packages that were fixed to only receive news and Afghan music from a Coalition radio station. At the beginning of November, US aircraft attacked front lines with daisy cutter bombs and AC gunships.
By November 2, Taliban frontal positions were devastated and a march on Kabul seemed possible. According to author Stephen Tanner ,. After a month of the U. Having begun the war with the greatest imaginable reservoir of moral authority, the U. Bravo team of ODA conducted its own airstrikes in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, cutting off and destroying Taliban reinforcements and frustrating its attempts to relieve its embattled forces in the north. Cumulatively, the near constant airstrikes had begun to have a decisive effect and the Taliban began to withdraw toward Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Green Berets set up an observation post in a disused air traffic control tower and with perfect lines of sight, guided in two BLU Daisy Cutter bombs which devastated the Taliban lines, both physically and psychologically.
By November 5, , the advance of Dostum and his force was stalled at the Taliban-held village of Bai Beche in the strategically vital Dari-a-Souf Valley. Two earlier Northern Alliance attacks had been driven back by the entrenched Taliban; Dostum prepared his men to follow a bombing run from a B with a cavalry charge, but one of Dostum's lieutenants misunderstood an order and sent around Uzbek horseman charging toward the Taliban lines as the B made its final approach, three or four bombs landed just in time on the Taliban positions and the cavalry charge succeeded in breaking the back of the Taliban defenders.
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He said that not only was the US in danger of further attacks, but so were all other countries in the world. Tanner observed, "His words had impact. Most of the world renewed its support for the American effort, including commitments of material help from Germany, France, Italy, Japan and other countries. Al-Qaeda fighters took over security in Afghan cities.
The Northern Alliance troops planned to seize Mazar-i-Sharif , cutting off Taliban supply lines and enabling equipment to arrive from the north and then attack Kabul. During the early months, the US military had a limited presence on the ground. Special Forces and intelligence officers with a military background liaised with Afghan militias and advanced after the Taliban was disrupted by air power.
American analysts believed that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda had dug in behind fortified networks of caves and underground bunkers. The area was subjected to a heavy B bombardment. US and Northern Alliance objectives began to diverge. Mazari-i Sharif was important because it is the home of the Shrine of Ali or "Blue Mosque", a sacred Muslim site, and because it is a significant transportation hub with two major airports and a major supply route leading into Uzbekistan. Many of those in most urgent need lived in rural areas to the south and west of Mazar-i-Sharif. After a brief but bloody minute battle, the Taliban withdrew, triggering celebrations.
The fall of the city was a "body blow"  to the Taliban and ultimately proved to be a "major shock",  since the US Central Command CENTCOM had originally believed that the city would remain in Taliban hands well into the following year  and any potential battle would require "a very slow advance". Following rumors that Mullah Dadullah was headed to recapture the city with as many as 8, fighters, a thousand US troops of the 10th Mountain Division were airlifted into the city, providing the first solid position from which Kabul and Kandahar could be reached.
US-backed forces began immediately broadcasting from Radio Mazar-i-Sharif , the former Taliban Voice of Sharia channel,  including an address from former President Rabbani. On November 10, operators from C squadron SBS inserted via two Cs into the recently captured Bagram Airfield and caused an immediate political quandary with the Northern Alliance leadership, which claimed the British had failed to consult in on the deployment.
The Northern Alliance foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah was "apoplectic" as he considered the uninvited arrival to be a violation of sovereignty, and complained bitterly to the head of the CIA field office, threatening to resign if the British did not withdraw. As it happened, the British government did alert the deputy head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan that they were deploying troops to Bagram, albeit at short notice.
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Arriving on the first flight, Brigadier Graeme Lamb , then the Director Special Forces , simply ignored Abdullah and drove to the Panjshir Valley , where he paid his respects to Ahmad Shah Massoud's grave and held talks with Northern Alliance leaders. The British Foreign Secretary tried to reassure the Northern Alliance that the deployment was not a vanguard of a British peacekeeping army, but Northern Alliance leaders did not believe them; with the threat of the Northern Alliance opening fire on incoming RAF troop transports, the deployment was put on hold.
On November 11, in the central north of Afghanistan, ODA was advising General Daoud Khan outside the city of Taloqan and coordinating a batch of preparatory airstrikes when the General surprised everyone by launching an impromptu massed infantry assault on the Taliban holding the city.
Before the first bomb could be dropped, the city fell. On the night of November 12, Taliban forces fled Kabul under cover of darkness. Northern Alliance forces supported by ODA  arrived the following afternoon, encountering a group of about twenty fighters hiding in the city's park. This group was killed in a minute gun battle. After these forces were neutralized, Kabul was in the hands of coalition forces. The fall of Kabul started a cascading collapse of Taliban positions.
Within 24 hours, all Afghan provinces along the Iranian border had fallen, including Herat. Local Pashtun commanders and warlords had taken over throughout northeastern Afghanistan, including Jalalabad. Taliban holdouts in the north fell back to the northern city of Kunduz.
By November 16, the Taliban's last stronghold in northern Afghanistan was under siege. Nearly 10, Taliban fighters, led by foreign fighters, continued to resist. By then, the Taliban had been forced back to their heartland in southeastern Afghanistan around Kandahar. Canada and Australia also deployed forces. Other countries provided basing, access and overflight permission. As a result of all the losses, surviving members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda retreated toward Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace and home of the Taliban movement and Tora Bora.
Nearly 2, al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters fortified themselves in positions within bunkers and caves. On November 16 the US began bombing the mountain redoubt. Around the same time, CIA and Special Forces operatives were at work in the area, enlisting local warlords and planning an attack.
On November 13, the 75th Ranger Regiment carried out its second combat parachute drop into Afghanistan. A pair of MC cargo soon landed at the improvised airstrip and deposited four AH-6J Little Bird helicopters, the flight of little birds lifted off to hit a Taliban target compound near Kandahar code named Objective Wolverine. After destroying the target, the Little Birds returned to the FARP and proceeded to rearm and refuel and then they launched another strike against a second site called objective Raptor.
These were the first missions in Afghanistan conducted by the Little Bird pilots of the th SOAR, as the helicopters could not operate at the high altitudes in the mountains. Meanwhile, the US was able to track and kill al-Qaeda's number three, Mohammed Atef , with a bomb at his Kabul home between November 14—16, , along with his guard Abu Ali al-Yafi'i and six others. Karzai traveled to Tarinkot to meet with the town elders. While he was there, the Taliban marshaled a force of men to retake Tarinkot. The defeat of the Taliban at Tarinkot was an important victory for Karzai, who used the victory to recruit more men to his fledgling guerrilla band.
His force would grow in size to a peak of around men. On November 30, they left Tarinkot and began advancing on Kandahar. Task Force Dagger attention focused on the last northern Taliban stronghold, Kunduz;  as the bombardment at Tora Bora grew, the Siege of Kunduz was continuing.
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