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20 years ago today, like many others around the world, I watched the twin towers in New York city collapse killing thousands of people.

I was only thirteen years of age, but some how new my life’s trajectory had changed.

I served in America’s ultimate over reach campaign Enduring Freedom in Iraq. A blunder that costs the lives of 4,431 American soldiers and over 150,000 Iraqi civilians.

I also served in America’s war in Afghanistan. I was there after the Americans had turned their attention on Iraq, losing ground and support of the Afghani people. In 2009 when I was in Afghanistan as the US where going into a troop surge to attempt to retake ground. The general in charge General McKrystal had requested from Obama 70,000 more troops. In the book Obamas War the author outlines the weight of the decision Obama had to make. On one shoulder he had Joe Biden campaigning to end the war and bring the troops home, on the other side he had Robert Gates Secretary of Defence begging for more troops so they could secure Afghanistan and rid the Taliban. President Obama committed an extra 30,000 troops, less than half of what was requested due to the risk of more American lives lost in Afghanistan.

The significants of these events, today 20 years on, could not be more important. We need to learn from history and learn from our mistakes.

In 1999 America was aware of Osama Bin Laden and his gorilla Army Al Qaeda and their training camps in Afghanistan. The complexity of this scenario is, the Taliban where the new unofficial government of Afghanistan made up of mainly Pashtun people of the South and South-East. The Taliban where still fighting resistance in the North and where ruthless in their leadership. The leader of the Taliban was Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden had asked Omar for refuge and safety within Afghanistan. Under Pashtun Law, Omar was required to give shelter to a Muslim brother and granted Bin Laden refuge. Giving Bin Laden a base to train his terrorist gorilla army and launch attacks around the world.

I believe there are 2 lessons we can learn from the events leading up to 9/11 and the actions after 9/11. These two lessons go hand in hand because failing one leads to the other.

Lesson 1 – Risk Adversity leads to inaction.

The US knew what was happening in Afghanistan, they knew the atrocities the Taliban where committing and did nothing because there was too much risk and it was not their problem. The US new what Bin Laden was up to and did nothing because there was too much risk. The risk adverse mentality of the US aloud 9/11 to happen and has again today aloud the Taliban to return.

Lesson 2 – Knee Jerk Reactions lead to Over Reach.

Politicians and ultimately governments are notorious for knee jerk reactions and over Reach otherwise known as mission creep. The knee jerk reaction led the US into fighting two wars at the same time, their mission creep led to committing far too much for little outcome.

We can all personally apply these lessons to the situation we find ourselves in today. If we do not learn from history, we will continue to make the same mistakes again and again.