JSOU Report on the Battle for Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan – 2001

Report on the Battle of Mazur-e Sharif, Afghanistan - 2001

The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) has published a report entitled Mazar-e Sharif: The First Victory of the 21st Century Against Terrorism. There are a lot of reports, news articles as well as a few books and movies about one of the first battles of American Special Forces against the Taliban in the fall of 2001. Not all the accounts have been accurate with some sensationalized to promote commercial activities. This report is an academic endeavor based on documentary evidence as well as interviews with those personally involved in the battle for Mazar-e Sharif – to include the events preceding and taking place after that battle.

The ‘horse soldiers’ of U.S. Army Special Forces, augmented with USAF combat controllers and the occasional CIA operator, linked up with Northern Alliance Forces and took the fight to the Taliban. Over the course of several months of the initial invasion a host of joint, interagency, and international actors contributed to the defeat of the Taliban regime. This report provides an excellent case study on the use of unconventional warfare by Special Forces.


Chapter 1 – Preparation and Initial Contact
Chapter 2 – Infiltration
Chapter 3 – Organization and Buildup
Chapter 4 – Employment
Chapter 5 – Transition
Chapter 6 – Discussion: Successes, Failures, and Implications
Chapter 7 – Summary
The report concludes with an epilogue, acronyms listing, and endnotes.

Mazar-e Sharif: The First Victory of the 21st Century Against Terrorism
By Dr. William Knarr, Maj Mark Nutsch (Ret.), and CW4 Robert Pennington (Ret.)
Joint Special Operations University
JSOU Report 21-2, April 2021, PDF, 154 pages


Photo: The top image is from the cover of the JSOU report. General Abdul Rashid Dostum addresses his horsemen before battling Taliban forces in 2001. Photo by Ak Yasin and Mark Nutsch.

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