Ken Stiles spent 29 years with the CIA before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech.\u00a0To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, Stiles and four others who were on the ground immediately following the attacks will share their experiences at a panel discussion and examine aspects of the CIA\u2019s operations in Afghanistan and their roles in this unprecedented counter terrorism action.\r\n\r\nAt the time of the attacks, Stiles was a GIS (geographic information system) analyst for the CIA.\u00a0 The officer in charge of the operation against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan called on Stiles to create a high-tech mapping system which allowed him to see in real time what was happening in the country.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey needed a map in order to understand what was happening in Afghanistan with our CIA teams, our Afghan \u2018assets\u2019 \u2013 the Afghan nationals spying on Al Qaeda and the Taliban \u2013 the U.S. military bombing effort, and where the enemy was located,\u201d said Stiles. \u201cI went to Afghanistan and provided targeting support for major operations that our CIA teams or the U.S. Special Forces were undertaking.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWe provided intelligence support and massive air power for this fight.\u00a0The Taliban was defeated by December 2001 and Al Qaeda was destroyed by spring 2002,\u201d he said.\u00a0\u201cMission accomplished. That\u2019s when we should have left, but policy makers who didn\u2019t understand Afghanistan, the culture, its history, the many different tribes, decided to \u2018create\u2019 a nation where none had ever existed. That was the mistake.\u201d\r\n\r\nStiles also noted that \u201cwhen the U.S. is pushed, we respond superbly \u2013 the CIA especially.\u00a0Within ten days of the attack the first CIA team was in Afghanistan beginning the fight.\u00a0 We accomplished our objectives with less than 300 CIA and military personnel on the ground.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWar is personal, very personal.\u00a0 I lost three good friends in Afghanistan in the first year, and a fourth elsewhere in the world in our war against Al Qaeda.\u00a0 Our young people pay the price for our older politicians\u2019 mistakes,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\n\u201cStay vigilant and bold and ruthless. The U.S. had been at war with Al Qaeda long before September 2001 and the war continues even though the last soldier left Kabul airport on August 30, 2021.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe panel discussion will take place on Sept. 9, at 3:30 p.m. in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech in the Burruss Hall auditorium and is free and open to the public.\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/u7061146.ct.sendgrid.net\/ls\/click?upn=4tNED-2FM8iDZJQyQ53jATUbCvWiD2uBp1NnvS9vOlTKpxzUquwJln-2BnGKrMT4Ea1ftFIR0fJ6G1V-2BmZlpcn5zvw-3D-3DDn1__ij7BAvLAaQUSLb-2FPLJuyu7QtDH2U33d6TaFzgKSKQFCi4BZU-2FT4VZVBvA-2F65mqwSc17tNcf1-2BE895CV8GX-2BhlUKVP-2F3zomCYEB9tRP2QubAHmtr308aj3-2F3nSiyPFYdhsgSxBSJXCq8GDwe62iR6MjH9sZH8qrgQ3scXDNpXLTzRhvX6uVKfhFJBkrXmVsemv-2FIxKrz1TgxIqPHeYVRI46pe38E4pNVQSoudze6WHBrTbToQx6ZIi25fIQrBMttQcgvJ-2FAKApNR9ARBMqahrVlUt7tU5qT5QFTwJpj6M65vUevMNEvLMsQgwwUZZmZrUKAMwvHlIiGO1Zqad723KAfv8lLHFpCDx3nnnlkxjfnU-3D">Visit the webpage<\/a>\u00a0to learn more and register.