This rather unflattering article appeared in the Washington Post recently. It's a tad long, so I've had to post it in several parts. Nice to know British troops are only involved in a sideshow. By Peter Baker Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, May 3, 2002; Page A20 BAGRAM, Afghanistan, May 2 -- British forces have returned to the mountains of southeastern Afghanistan to press the search for al Qaeda fighters, deploying about 1,000 troops to comb through a former base used by Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization. Along with Afghan troops and some U.S. Special Forces soldiers, the commandos from the British Royal Marines ascended in helicopters and vehicles to peaks reaching 13,000 feet on Monday to inspect "a strategic, key location of our enemy," Brig. Roger Lane announced today. "I can confirm that this is one of the few remaining areas that have never been investigated by coalition forces, and we have found reasons to believe that it is or has been a base for al Qaeda forces," Lane said at Bagram air base, the main base for U.S. and British military forces operating in the area. Over time, he added, coalition troops will "remove the cancer of al Qaeda from the very heart of Afghanistan." Yet Operation Snipe, as it has been dubbed, appears to be a secondary mission to the one U.S. troops are preparing for on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. U.S. and Afghan officials have said that coalition forces plan to target groups of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters who have taken refuge in Pakistan's largely lawless border tribal areas. According to a senior U.S. defense official, Pakistani troops, with U.S. support, are planning to attack the small concentrations of enemy fighters and drive them back toward Afghanistan, where U.S. and other coalition forces will be waiting. Some intelligence reports have suggested that bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri, may be hiding in the tribal areas, although sightings remained unconfirmed. Other top figures could be there as well, including Jalaluddin Haqqani, a Taliban commander from eastern Afghanistan closely allied with al Qaeda. The new British operation, by comparison, seems geared more toward sweeping out an area previously used by Islamic radicals, preventing their return rather than directly confronting known pockets of guerrillas. Over four days in the mountains, the British and allied forces have not encountered any enemy fighters.