First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan By Gary Schroen

Gary Schroen ↠ 6 Read & Download

While America held its breath in the days immediately following 9/11, a small but determined group of CIA agents covertly began to change history. This is the riveting first-person account of the treacherous top-secret mission inside Afghanistan to set the stage for the defeat of the Taliban and launch the war on terror.

As thrilling as any novel, First In is a uniquely intimate look at a mission that began the U.S. retaliation against terrorism–and reclaimed the country of Afghanistan for its people. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan

I suspect few know how important the CIA was in Afghanistan both during the Soviet invasion and the 2001 invasion. Yet they'll be forever remembered for the Iraq WMD mess. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan A very interesting account of how CIA paramilitary operatives work in the field. I had read Jawbreaker in sixth grade first, and came upon the title in the footnotes. I never got around to buying it until ninth grade.
I had first read about Schroen himself in Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, which also provides intersting tidbits on Schroen's career. I would have expected Schroen to include his account of the Islamabad embassy siege of 1979 in this book, but I guess he thought his account in Ghost Wars was enough.
The main chunk of this book only covers Schroen's 2001 mission into Afghanistan, and he describes his career in sparing detail, which is a shame.
It has some historical errors though
On page 26, he writes that the level of violence in Tajikistan's capital in the 1990s prevented CIA visits there, but it was pretty quiet in the capital.
Ben B. is obviously Ben Bonk and Hank C. obviously Henry Crumpton. John R. was John Reagan. Gary 2 is Gary Berntsen.
On page 48, he says Rabbani was the head of Hezb-i Islami, but it was actually Jamat-i Islami.
On page 52, he says Hekmatyar was foreign minister, but it was actually some guy named Ghafurzai.
On page 115, he mentions that Sayyaf was agraduate of al-Ansar University, but it was al-Azhar University.
On page 165, he writes that the Taliban had several Stinger missiles, which is hilariously wrong. The CIA had bought all the Stingers back, in a program that Schroen himself was involved in.
On page 219 he says mazar-e Sharif was an area of traditional Tajik control, but it was more Pashtun-Uzbek
On page 247, he says Dostum had established a militia in the last couple of days, but he actually had since April
On page 320 he writes that Karshi-Khanabad, in Uzbekistan, is about 100 miles north of Tashkent, but his directions put you in Kazakhstan.
On page 357 he writes that Fahim had Panjshiri tribals but there are no tribes in the Panjshir or any Tajik population.
Schroen's treatment of Abdul Rashid Dostum is ill-informed. Furthermore, Schroen was in the Panjshir, which was without a local chapter of the Dostum fan club.
Schroen portrays Fahim as incapable, bit it's doubtful Massoud would have made him de facto second-in-command if he was.
He misspells GPS as GSP a few times...
Any way, now that I've made myself sound like a nerd... First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan “You cannot buy an Afghan’s loyalty, but you can rent it.”

- “Gary, I want you to take a small team of CIA officers into Afghanistan. You will link up with the Northern Alliance in the Panjshir Valley, and your job is to convince them to cooperate fully with the CIA and the U.S. military as we go after bin Ladin and the al-Qa’ida. You will also evaluate their military capabilities and recommend steps we can take to bring the Northern Alliance forces to a state of readiness so they can effectively take on the Taliban forces, opening the way for our efforts against UBL.”

- the CIA was not authorized to conduct laser targeting operations—that was restricted to U.S. military personnel

- One last thing was required—the team needed a name. I suggested that we call ourselves the Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team (NALT), which was the formal NE Division name for earlier teams dispatched into northern Afghanistan. However, our code name would be JAWBREAKER.

“U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
- As we moved toward the helicopter, I was admiring the new paint job. Then I saw the registration number. There in bold black paint on a light green background was 9-11-01.

- The bottom line was that no SpecOps personnel would accompany JAWBREAKER into Afghanistan. The official reason given was that without SAR capability, the mission was considered “too dangerous” for U.S. military personnel.

- The door to future cooperation with Masood and the Northern Alliance was again open, and the CIA’s efforts over the next five years would keep that door open. This proved critical in making it possible for my team to enter Afghanistan on 26 September 2001

- In the forty days I was in the Panjshir Valley, I spent $ 5 million, the vast majority passed to our Afghan allies for their use, with only a small amount used as payment for essential supplies and equipment that the team required. That is a lot of money, but when measured against what the money helped achieve—the collapse of the Taliban as a military force, the disruption of the al-Qa’ida organization, and the denial of Afghanistan as a sanctuary for terrorism—it was money well spent.

- I squatted there in pain and shame, embarrassed and hurting. I was feverish and dehydrated, and my bowels were locked in spasms. I had soiled myself and the floor, and I knew it was not going to get any better that night. It was a great start to my time in Afghanistan.

- Late that afternoon, Jan Mohammad came to Rick and me with word that, if we wanted, he could arrange to have a TV satellite dish installed in the compound that would allow us to receive CNN and BBC news broadcasts. We were incredulous. Satellite TV, here in the Panjshir? Oh, yes, it was possible, Jan Mohammad explained. The dish was made locally, from what turned out to be sheets of misprinted aluminum beer can stock imported from the Far East, and thin iron construction rebar bent to form the dish frame. The electronics were imported from Tajikistan. These electronic components were not easy to come by and were expensive, but Jan Mohammad had located two complete sets. The satellite dish could be up and running within a few hours.

- The Predator is looking at an SUV parked on the dirt landing strip, and there are two men, dressed in Western-style clothing, walking around on the strip. They are definitely not Afghans, and we think they may be al-Qa’ida. One of the men is very tall and thin and may be bin Ladin himself. We wanted to check with your team before authorizing a Hellfire shot against the vehicle and the two men.”

- I told him to hold on while we checked our maps. I turned to Rick. “You’re not going to believe this, but I think the Predator is looking at Chris and Ed, and this guy thinks Ed is bin Ladin. They want to hit them with a Hellfire.”

- Yesterday’s battle was unique—the climactic engagement of the fight had been a six-hundred-man cavalry charge by Dostum’s men across a broad open field straight into the Taliban defensive lines.

- My driver was a young man whom I had not seen before. He was dressed in Northern Alliance military clothing, with a thin field jacket for his coat. He had boots but no gloves. When I repacked earlier that day, I had found a second pair of high-quality wool gloves in the bottom of one of my duffel bags. I gave them to the young man, saying in Dari that they were a gift for him. He looked incredulous but pulled them on; he flexed his fingers, then started to cry. He shook my hand hard, thanking me, and I was embarrassed at his emotion at my simple gesture. I could only guess that he had been surprised at the gift and even more surprised at the quality of the gloves. They were undoubtedly the first pair of gloves he had ever owned. No Afghan in the valley had better gloves than he did.

- Craig stood looking at the three men across from him. It had been one the finest displays of bravery he had ever seen or, for that matter, heard of. Three men, running under fire across six hundred to seven hundred yards of open ground, with sixty men firing at them, and never breaking stride. Now they stood there, jeering at the men they had humiliated...The GBU-31 exploded at that moment within feet of the Chechen standing so proudly.

- Another case of lack of attention to the traffic that we were sending in.

- It was clear to us—and confirmed by a Department of Defense film taken from inside the C-17s—that parachutes had not been used. The food had been pushed out of the rear of the aircraft in large cardboard containers, which quickly broke apart, allowing the food packets to fall to Earth individually. From twenty-seven thousand feet, the packets quickly reached terminal velocity as they scattered for miles in the drop pattern.

- this reluctance to bomb the Taliban around Kabul was a political decision rather than a military one...the potential political ramifications of allowing the Northern Alliance forces to capture the city, was still dragging on within the NSC.

- There had been no coordination with my team on this insertion effort, and at that moment we were unprepared to receive the inbound A-Team.

- “They’re getting ready to land,” he said. “They must think they’re at the landing coordinates, but they’re a mile or more short!” The sound shifted again. “Ah, hell, they’re landing! This is all screwed up!”...Because no one was injured and the mistake was soon corrected, the worst aspect of all this was that it took place in front of our Afghan hosts. We had bragged to Engineer Aref that the Special Forces could land in the dark exactly on target,

- the State Department had finally and firmly refused to host Dr. Abdullah in Washington. I would have to tell Aref when he came.

- an airdrop of weapons was to be made to Dostum this evening. Atta threatened to attack Dostum’s forces if that airdrop took place...a battle between senior NA commanders over such issues as who hosts a CIA team and who gets a few weapons and some ammunition will be seen as proof that the Northern Alliance should be restrained and cannot be trusted to lead the fight against the Taliban.

- He made a small mistake, but a grave one, and did not realize that the geocoordinates he was reading to the circling B-52 were for his own team’s position, not the Taliban target across the valley.

- After a few visits to the kitchen, we all decided it was best not to know exactly what was going on in there.

- One other problem plagued us throughout our stay. It turned out that Pappy suffered from terrible flatulence. The man would start farting immediately upon waking up and would continue through the day until he fell asleep. We hollered at him, made jokes about him, and got mad at him, but it did no good. He would shrug and say, “I can’t help it. It’s this diet. What can I do?” Then a minute later he would pass another cloud of mind-numbing gas.

- I could not help but think of a humorous description of a helicopter I once heard—ten thousand moving parts trying desperately to come apart.

- Within a few seconds, the firing stopped and a young Afghan militiaman stood on the edge of the ZSU position facing down toward the battlefield. He raised both arms toward the sky—his AK-47 in his right hand and the severed head of a Taliban fighter held by its hair in his left—and he shouted in a clear, ringing voice, “Allahu Akbar!”

- The Philippine Muslim terrorist group that kidnapped and held three American citizens in 2002 is named Abu Sayyaf in honor of the good professor,

- I knew that Mumtaz was being truthful about the significance of the 40th Day celebrations; that was an important milestone in the mourning cycle in Islam.

- ODA/ CCE Team (Command and Control Element) to the Panjshir, to coordinate the activities of the soon-to-be-two ODAs on the ground here.

BLU-82: First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan It was a slow but interesting account of the first CIA officers in Afghanistan following 9/11. I was surprised by the seemingly mundane duties of taking meetings, writing reports, and wresting with the bureaucracy that largely comprised the mission. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan I had seen Gary's name in other books about the conflict in Afghanistan so i thought reading his account would be interesting. The book was quite interesting to begin with Gary and his team planning operation JAWBREAKER. Once they settled into Northern Alliance territory in Afghanistan it slowly started to dull.

They take bumpy car rides. Gary hits his head on the ceiling of the car. The roads are bumpy. They have a meeting. They drive back. The roads are still bumpy. Washington does nothing in the north. They take more car rides. Do you like reading about bumpy car rides? They have more meetings and take more bumpy car rides and Washington continues to ignore Gary's advice. But they get Starbucks coffee delivered. They drink coffee.

Very late in the book, the US powers that be finally decide to begin a bombing campaign in the north that would allow the NA to battle for control of Taliban controlled cities. Finally something is happening. By now however the book is almost over, I've lost interest, Gary has returned state side, and Kabul falls quickly. The end. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan


Want to find out what made “12 Strong” possible? Read this book. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan Not what I hoped for in this book. Long, drawn out retell of events that occurred in a few months after the September 11th attack on the US. It showed how the CIA, the US Military and government do not share information and cooperation is very limited. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan Interesting episode in the history of the world, but this was not the guy to write it. Recommended if you have any interest in hearing about a middle-aged man's catastrophic bowel situation and not much else. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan Very poorly written. I couldn't finish it. First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan I never knew about this operation, and was really pleased with the read.
First In: An Insiders Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan