In the days immediately following 9/11, Gary C. Schroen was tapped to lead the first team of Americans on the ground in Afghanistan. This small but determined group of CIA agents embarked on a top-secret mission to establish contact with the Northern Alliance and set the stage for the deployment of Special Force teams into Afghanistan, the defeat the Taliban, and the launch of the war on terror.

Please join The Intelligence Project and Saudi & GCC Security Project on Thursday, February 8th for a breakfast seminar with Gary Schroen, who will detail his experience leading the first CIA team into Afghanistan after 9/11, and discuss the impact US involvement in Afghanistan in Pakistan has had in the years since.

Gary C. Schroen had a 32-year-career with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a Staff Operations Officer, rising from case officer to Deputy Chief of Near East and South Asia Division.

During his career, Mr. Schroen spent extensive time in the Near East and South Asia, including serving as Chief of Station in multiple postings. He served in pre-revolution Iran for four years, in Pakistan for a total of eight years (three separate tours). He created the CIA office in Dubai in 1984-86. He served as the number two at the office in Riyadh during the first gulf war, 1992-1994. He lived in Iran for four years, speaks Farsi, and spent 15 years working on Iran in various locations world-wide. His last two years as a staff officer were as the Deputy of the Near East and South Asia Division.

Mr. Schroen lead the first CIA team into Afghanistan in September 2001, linking up with the Afghan Tajik forces of Ahmad Shah Masood. For nearly a month, Mr. Schroen's team were the only Americans in the country. The team's efforts over the next 6 weeks contributed greatly to the defeat of the Afghan Taliban and UBL's Arab fighters. Mr. Schroen authored a book detailing this experience titled, First In: An Insdier’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

Following his November 2001 retirement, Mr. Schroen returned to CIA on contract. He finally ended his contractual career in September 2017. In that 15- year period, he worked on Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf states.

Mr. Schroen was awarded the following (first three for Valor):

  • The Distinguished Intelligence Cross
  • The Intelligence Star
  • The Intelligence Medal of Merit
  • The Intelligence Commendation Medal
  • The Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal
  • The Donovan Award
  • The Herbert Walker Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism