Remember “dead or alive?” That’s what President Bush said about finding Osama bin Laden in the days after 9/11, just before he authorized a $25 million bounty and fierce airstrikes on the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Almost eight years later, of course, the Qaeda chief remains at large. The trail went cold near the Tora Bora caves in late 2001, after the Bush administration made the worst strategic decision of the decade, if not of our generation. Against stern warnings from the CIA, which knew that bin Laden was most likely cornered in the area, it decided not to commit U.S. ground troops to the manhunt, according to published reports. Instead, it sent just four dozen U.S. Special Forces Troops—including myself—into battle against hundreds of Qaeda operatives, and recruited corrupt local mujahedin and Pakistani soldiers to seal up the escape routes. Predictably, the militias failed to prevent bin Laden from slipping into Pakistan, where many believe he remains to this day. The military has long since shelved any desire to leave Afghan soil, as mission creep, mission change, and mass confusion continue to plague our efforts in the region. Whatever we do next—nation building, counterinsurgency, or small and lethal counterterrorist strikes from afar—the threshold for withdrawal can’t possibly be met until the mission of the battle of Tora Bora is finally accomplished. We still have to capture bin Laden—dead or alive.