Operation Anaconda Battle Analysis

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Starting in mid-January to mid-February, there was interest in assaulting the Shahikot Valley in the Paktia province of Afghanistan by employing U.S. ground combat forces as part as an operation due to intelligence reports suggesting that enemy forces, which included al Qaeda and the Taliban where in the stages of reoccupying the area to regroup its forces after its sustaining defeats during the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A debate between intelligence agencies on whether the enemy troops would be on the valley floor or on the hills. Well before the battle, early intelligence estimates, which drew on
HUMINT and other sources, claimed that nearly 1,000 al Qaeda and Taliban forces might be present in the Shahikot Valley but then were lowered to about 200 to 300 personnel (Baranick, Binnendijk , Kuglar, 2009). They also concluded that they were mostly living in the valley’s villages, rather than deployed in the surrounding mountains and ridgelines as they thought they would be from the more tactical
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This complicated any effort to bring massive of amounts of fire power without causing numerous unintended civilian casualties. Because of the possibility of the high number civilian casualties a close air support effort was considered unnecessary due to the lack of enemy personnel in this area.
The plan for Operation Anaconda employed many of the same concepts that were successful in earlier experiences in Afghanistan. The battle was planned to be mainly a ground operation, although the task force did plan for a limited number of strikes by fighters and bombers just before the U.S. ground forces were supposed to enter the valley. Anaconda was driven by the operational goal of destroying a major concentration of al Qaeda, while preventing another escape into the Tora Bora’s like they had done before in an earlier battle three months

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