On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States.
The US responded by ordering all civilian aircraft to land, sending Defense Condition alerts to the military, warning potential attackers with the threat of overwhelming force, and quickly adapting to this new type of war.
The Pentagon sustained minor damage with 125 deaths, while the World Trade Center site had the highest number of casualties.
The rescue efforts and medical response began immediately but were not progressing well. Numerous volunteers worked on debris clearing, investigation, and rescue efforts.
On 9/11, terrorists attacked the US leading to the Global War on Terror
US ordered all civilian aircraft to land, sent Defense Condition alerts & warned of force
Pentagon sustained minor damage but more happened at the World Trade Center
Rescue efforts began immediately with thousands of volunteers helping
Investigation & clearing up the debris began soon after the attack
Steel from the debris was reused in building USS New York
The US declared a war on terrorism with Al Qaeda as the enemy number one
The US was concerned about further terrorist attacks using civilian aircraft and sent a clear and strong signal to any would-be adversary that while the US had just taken a nasty sucker punch to the face, it was still on its feet and ready to fight.
Any attempt to capitalize on US confusion and weakness in the immediate aftermath of the attacks would be met with immediate and overwhelming force, including nuclear if need be.
Civilian aircraft incoming to the United States were immediately ordered to divert and barred from entering American airspace.
The US military mounted immediate efforts to assist civilian personnel on the ground.
The Civil Air Patrol was one of the few institutions allowed to launch aircraft, and it used the opportunity to conduct aerial reconnaissance missions over ground zero to provide analysis of the wreckage.
CAP aircraft also assisted in airlifting personnel and medical equipment supplies.
The first military personnel at ground zero were elements of the New York Army National Guard's 1-101st Cavalry, 258th Field Artillery, 442nd Military Police Company, and 69th Infantry Regiment.
National Guard troops supplemented NYPD and FDNY, with 2,250 national guardsmen assisting in rescue efforts by the next morning.
The armory of the 69th Infantry would become a Family Information Center to assist family members of victims in locating their loved ones or recovering remains.
National Guardsmen also provided security to other possible target locations across New York, as well as assisted in traffic control.
Soon after, the New Jersey National Guard sent its own personnel to assist.
The US Navy redirected its hospital ship, USNS Comfort to Pier 92 in Manhattan, from which crew members helped feed and house 10,000 relief workers.
Its galley provided 30,000 meals, while its medical facilities assisted injured rescue workers immediately after the attack and during the recovery process.
With Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the attacks, President Bush immediately declared a war on terrorism with the goal of destroying and dismantling global terror networks.
Al Qaeda would be enemy number one.
A NATO committee agreed that the attack on the US constituted an article 5 response, and overnight Osama Bin Laden had brought down the heat of the entire NATO alliance on his head.
Across the nation, federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies coordinated to arrest 762 suspects with known or suspected ties to terror networks.
However, none of those detained would be charged with terrorism, and the response is largely seen as a knee-jerk response to the September 11th attacks.
To head off growing Islamophobia by parts of the US population, President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington and reminded the nation that Arab Muslims living in the US were still patriots.
Sadly, a 1600 percent surge in hate crimes or harassment of Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, and South Asians would occur in the days immediately following the attacks.
Immediately after the attacks, President Bush took legislative action to shut down financial assets of known terrorists and their financial networks.
This froze billions of dollars in assets and would be the first shot in the global war on terror.
On September 18th, a joint resolution from Congress gives President Bush the authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the planners and instigators of the September 11th attacks.
Two days later, the president announces the start of a global war on terror.
Osama Bin Laden had horrendously misjudged America's response to the September 11th attacks. He believed that the US would respond in one of two ways: a general pullout from the Middle East or a round of cruise missile strikes against training facilities.
Instead, the United States chose a third option- one that Bin Laden could have never seen coming, which would spell his personal doom - the destruction of the Al Qaeda terror network.
The US initiates plan to overthrow the Taliban 14:31
President Bush issued an ultimatum to the Taliban shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks against the US.
When the Taliban refused, the US decided to militarily overthrow them.
The decision was based on the principle that those who harbor terrorists are themselves terrorists.
The US troops would lead the war against the Taliban.
On October 7th, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, American combat aircraft launched a blistering assault on Taliban positions in Afghanistan.
The air attacks were coordinated with an offensive by the Northern Alliance.
Approximately 1,000 American special operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency field operatives were also involved.
The US invoked the right to self-defense and UN Resolution 1368 as justification for the invasion.
American and British aircraft continued a blistering offensive against Taliban strongholds, including cruise missiles launched from warships in the Arabian Sea that flew over Pakistan to strike military targets inside Afghanistan.
Pakistan was secretly aiding and even equipping the Taliban and other insurgents as they crossed the border into Afghanistan.
Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence agency ran a massive effort to arm, feed, and even provide medical care for wounded Taliban and other insurgent fighters.
While never verified, it is strongly suspected that Pakistan was also fully aware of the fact that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in their territory and likely assisted efforts to keep him hidden from US sources.
Pakistan had every incentive to keep the Taliban in power and under their influence, as US plans to uproot Al Qaeda directly clashed with what they saw as a national security priority.
As Kandahar was being secured, the US and its allies launched a massive attack against al Qaeda forces in the cave complex of Tora Bora.
On December 3rd, CIA operatives and members of the 5th Special Forces Group began an assault on the plains leading up to the cave complexes.
Codenamed Jawbreaker, the task force coordinated with Northern Alliance fighters and called in a series of non-stop airstrikes on enemy positions to force them to retreat further up the mountains.
A week later, 70 special operators from the US Army's Delta Force's A Squadron and Air Force Special Tactics Squadron joined Jawbreaker via vehicle to lead the ground operation against al Qaeda positions.
With the aid of US, German, and British special forces, Northern Alliance fighters made progress into the cave complexes.
However, al-Qaeda forces contacted a local Afghan commander and negotiated a truce, but the time requested to surrender their weapons was believed to actually be used to allow senior al-Qaeda officials to escape.
On the 12th of December, fighting resumed as a rear guard attempted to buy time for al-Qaeda's main forces to escape into Pakistan.
Alliance forces, along with US special and heavy air support, assaulted heavily fortified al-Qaeda positions in caves and bunkers.
Thirteen British special forces operators alongside German and American operators led the attack against the complex of Tora Bora itself and helped secure the flanks of the Alliance assault against al-Qaeda ambush, which was critical in the success of the operation.
Al-Qaeda's last stronghold was destroyed by December 17th, and US special forces immediately launched a search for Osama Bin Laden.
Bin Laden, however, had managed to successfully escape into Pakistan.
After the taking of Kandahar and the destruction of al-Qaeda's stronghold in Tora Bora, surviving Taliban and al-Qaeda forces either went to ground or escaped into Pakistan.
From the safety of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an insurgency blossomed, which allowed the Taliban to launch repeated assaults against the democratic government taking root in Afghanistan.
Without permission from Pakistan to send troops to root out the cancer growing in its tribal areas, the US was forced to rely on drones to surveil and target enemy leadership.
These drone strikes drew global condemnation, thanks in no part to the fact that Pakistan's ISI itself fanned the flames of outrage in order to limit US influence.
The truth is that casualties from US drone strikes were self-reported by forces operating in the Tribal areas, which did not allow Pakistani government investigators to enter.
Thus, casualty figures were never truly verified by anyone other than the very insurgents and terrorists the US was targeting, and the fact that these individuals don't wear military uniforms allowed them to claim that all the victims, or at least most, were innocent civilians.