Northern Alliance soldiers at a Kabul airstrip after U.S. bomb strikes, November 2001
Damir Sagolj / Reuters


Throughout most of the twentieth century, the U.S. armed forces were seen as an overmuscled giant, able to win wars through brute strength but often lacking in daring and cleverness. This basic strategy worked during the two world wars, making the United States relatively tough to challenge. But it failed in Vietnam, produced mediocre results in Korea, and worked in the Persian Gulf War largely because the terrain was ideally suited to American strengths.

What a difference a new century makes. Operation Enduring Freedom has been, for the most part, a masterpiece of military creativity

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.