Everything needs a good plan before starting off. Operation Anaconda involved several instances portraying poor planning. Operation Anaconda was the first large-scale coordinated operation in the fight on terror. The term “anaconda” is derived from the word “anaconda,” which refers to one of the largest snakes in the world. Unfamiliar adversaries would put the US’s lack of readiness to the test, and the mission would serve as a demonstration of this.
American General Tommy Franks, USA, Ret., retired CENTCOM commander, hailed Operation Anaconda in his biography as a “complete and unequivocal triumph.” According to Gen. Franks’ firsthand recollections, the first US military combat strategy did not survive the first encounter with the enemy. This case study of Operation Anaconda, which took place in the Shahikot Valley in eastern Afghanistan in early March 2002, is set against the stunning presentation by General Franks. The narrative is delivered from the viewpoints of the many individuals. It was a principal goal of Operation Anaconda to eliminate any remaining enemy forces that had gathered in the valley following their prior failures. Weaver and anvil attacks by US and Afghan ground forces into the valley were devised by US military commanders to achieve this purpose. During the first day of the operation, friendly Afghan forces were unable to complete their march into the valley due to fierce opposition, leaving deployed US infantry soldiers to battle the Taliban alone.
US troops allowed coordinated air attacks and ground operations in order to disrupt and degrade the adversary’s capabilities. As a result, we achieved victory. Initially, Operations Anaconda were envisioned as three-day clashes with minimal action. In the end, it was a seven-day battle marred by fierce violence that took 17 days to conclude legally. Around 1,000 enemy soldiers were killed between March 2 and March 18 during Operation Anaconda. The surviving adversaries fled the Shahikot Valley, which US and coalition forces ultimately reclaimed. The tragedy claimed the lives of eight US military personnel and injured more than 50 others. The United States military demonstrated its adaptability in the face of an unexpected and difficult condition by utilizing combined operations and new information networks. As a result, successful outcomes were achieved. This page discusses the various facets of the conflict in detail, including the initial failures and eventual triumph.
From the outset of operations on March 2, 2002, the JFC and coalition forces involved in this mission encountered significant sadness and hardship (Kelly, 2014). At least eight Americans were murdered and more than 50 others were injured during a 16-day operation that was originally scheduled to last only three days. Close air support and cooperation amongst all units operating inside their respective areas of responsibility were vital to the fight’s victory. Throughout the conflict, the Joint Forces Command came to this conclusion. The coalition was compelled to abandon Operation Anaconda following the failure of the first phase. Following the failure of a previous plan, the commander immediately implemented adjustments to guarantee that the mission’s critical objectives were met.
According to analysts, Operation Anaconda had five main flaws that contributed to the mission’s early failure. To ensure success from the start, all parties involved in the operation needed to have clearly defined lines of duty.
The attack could finally proceed after more than two months of precise planning and execution. The operation was scheduled to last three days, after which the coalition forces would go on to their final objective. The military learned they had been duped by pre-war intelligence only after the fight began. On the other side, they encountered a far more powerful foe than they had anticipated. Due to logistical difficulties created by the weather, the US ground forces were initially reduced; only 200 men landed in the country, less than half the number intended. Following their entry into the combat, USA and Afghan forces discovered they were surrounded on three sides by platoon-sized elements with whom they were battling. Due to a dearth of air missions, the ground forces were forced to defend themselves with artillery (Hastert, 2005).
Air operations that had been planned were frequently rescheduled or cancelled due to a lack of attention. After realizing that Special Operations Soldiers (SOF) personnel were in the area, the Joint Task Force was obliged to cancel all flights. The Afghan forces were obliged to withdraw their men as a result of this. The battlefield assessment conducted by Tactical Force Mountain necessitated a shift toward air missions (TF Mountain). When they realized that ground forces would be insufficient to complete the JTF’s objectives on their own, they were forced to request reinforcements.
The battle plan changes
The US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy were requested to provide close air assistance. These three services’ air assets replied to the Joint Task Force’s request (CAS). The significance of the CAS was overlooked during the initial planning stage. The air support system was eventually relocated to give more help for the mission. The United States’ air assistance increased, reentry began, and additional US Army forces were dispatched to the area of operation in the days that followed. There were multiple days when forces were involved at a level more than 100%, and the opposition’s resistance began to wane (Grau, 2011).
The ability of the TF Mountain planning staff to rapidly alter previously developed plans was a significant benefit to the company. Five types of lessons can be drawn from early planning phase blunders: The Battle of the Bulge was a shambles due to a lack of intelligence preparation and an overestimation of air power’s capabilities. Consider deployment delays, a lack of operational and strategic collaboration, a lack of tactical coordination for close air support, and airpower omission while making decisions. These are all critical points to consider.
As this historical backdrop demonstrates, historical lessons may be applied to all branches of the United States military. Anaconda’s planning challenges have been worse and more problematic from the start due to a lack of air support and ground information. The military forces of this country must lobby for the addition of an aviation branch. Without the CAS, this mission would have been a complete and utter failure. The Joint Task Force moved rapidly while remaining cognizant of its mandate’s limits. The mission was doomed from the start due to a lack of support from his staff and an inability to deploy ground forces due to inclement weather.
Grau, L. W., & Billingsley, D. (2011). Operation Anaconda: America’s First Major Battle in Afghanistan. University Press of Kansas.
Hastert, P. L. (2005). Operation Anaconda: perception meets reality in the hills of Afghanistan. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 28(1), 11-20.
Kelly, M. A., Comberiate, J. M., Miller, E. S., & Paxton, L. J. (2014). Progress toward forecasting of space weather effects on UHF SATCOM after Operation Anaconda. Space Weather, 12(10), 601-611.