Mi-17 Jawbreaker: The fascinating story of the first U.S. helicopter to invade Afghanistan after 9/11

The helicopter leaves an ever-lasting impact on all Afghans who suffered from the so-called U.S. "war on terror."

The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter is taking off in Panjshir Valley in a photo taken between October 2001 and December 2001. (CIA)
The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter is taking off in Panjshir Valley in a photo taken between October 2001 and December 2001. (CIA)

Approximately 20 years ago, and less than 15 days in the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The pretext was that the Taliban government at that time was protecting Al-Qaeda members complicit in executing 9/11.

Mi-17 Jawbreaker. (CIA)
Mi-17 Jawbreaker. (CIA)

However, the U.S. entering Afghanistan was not a full-scale invasion at first.

The first U.S. troops to enter Afghanistan were a team of soldiers codenamed the Jawkbreaker team.

The Jawbreaker team consisted of seven CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) paramilitary operatives and a three-person flight crew.

The team entered Afghanistan via a Russian-made twin-turbine Mil Mi-17 helicopter. This helicopter was named 91101, in reference to the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks.

The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter in Afghanistan.
The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter in Afghanistan.

The 91101 helicopter landed in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley to prepare for the assault to topple the then Taliban government.

In the coming days, more U.S. troops would be brought into Afghanistan for a full-fledged invasion.

The Taliban government would be toppled, but the U.S.troops would have to remain in Afghanistan for the next twenty years due to ‘chaos’ and ‘uncertainty in the region.

During the U.S. invasion, Afghanistan went through horrific difficult times that caused destruction to the lives of millions of Afghans.

Meanwhile, the first U.S. helicopter to enter Afghanistan —91101— became an uncanny symbol of the beginning of America’s so-called “war on terror.”

The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter in Afghanistan on the 4th of December, 2001.
The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter in Afghanistan on the 4th of December, 2001.

The CIA chose the Mil Mi-17 helicopter for a variety of reasons.

One reason was that the helicopter was able to fly in a “hot-and-high” environment.Another was that the Taliban in Afghanistan were flying identical versions. So, it was easy for the Americans to blend in and avoid detection.

Nevertheless, regardless of whatever reasons the CIA chose that specific helicopter, the 91101 Mil Mi-17 helicopter to represent the beginning of America’s so-called “war on terror” that destroyed the lives of millions of Afghans.

The 91101 Mil Mi-17 helicopter was archived by the CIA on the 26th of September, 2018, when it landed at the CIA’s headquarters in the U.S. state of Virginia.

The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter parked in the United States.
The Mi-17 Jawbreaker helicopter parked in the United States.

However, it leaves an ever-lasting impact on all Afghans who suffered from the so-called U.S. “war on terror.”


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