OCTOBER 7, 2001: American forces being aerial bombardment of Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan, the first strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the September 11 terror attacks and the beginning of more than a decade of combat operations in the mountainous nation. As the relentless bombing continued, American special forces soon hit the ground, establishing the first ground base southwest of Kandahar and linking up with elements of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. As reinforcements rapidly poured in, coalition forces took control of the capitol at Kabul on November 13, and on December 6 fighting began in the mountainous eastern border region at the Battle of Tora Bora, where they hoped to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But despite routing enemy forces, bin Laden escaped.