Case Study: Anaconda

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Anaconda

Operation Anaconda

There were many points of failure in Operation Anaconda, a major offensive against Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents in the Shahikot Valley of Afghanistan that took place in 2002. Though the United States military and the Afghan troops that were supposed to serve as the primary combat force in this operation did not suffer as badly as did General Custer at his infamous last stand, the military did find that the enemy was about ten times as numerous as had been predicted, and their entrenched positions throughout the cliffs surrounding the valley made them far more formidable and difficult to counter than had been anticipated. Failures to gather and communicate accurate and current information were definitely one source of problems during this operation, but as the details of the operation emerged it became quite clear that the real issues lay in the failure to establish and utilize proper chains of command in order to ensure common purpose and common knowledge.

A report produced by RAND was especially critical of the CJTF-Mountain, which did not provide the necessary air support for certain parts of the operation (Lambeth 2005). Reading the full report and another analyses of Operation Anaconda, however, it quickly becomes clear that the staff officers and commanders of the CJTF-Mountain unit were not made aware of the scope or specifics of the operation until it became too late to effectively prepare and provide the necessary support (Lambeth 2005; Grossman 2004). Staff officers could develop a routine practice of checking up the chain of command as well as checking on movements laterally with other divisions in the area, but this would require a major reassessment of protocol.

The complex hierarchy of authority and chain… [END OF PREVIEW]

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