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CASE STUDY

Case Study: Operation Anaconda

The U.S. military initiated operation Anaconda to vacate the enemy, Al Qaeda, and Taliban, from Shahikot valley in Afghanistan in March 2002 (Kugler, 2007). The launch was planned with a complex approach that involved the hammer and anvil technique for eliminating the enemy from Afghani land. The mission was considered the U.S. army killed a success as hundreds of enemy fighters whereas only 50 U.S. army men were injured and a mere eight men were killed. Much credit was given to the deployment of joint operations and modern information networks utilized for this mission. However, this paper aims at analytically analyzing the seven principles of mission command pertinent to Operation Anaconda.

The seven principles of mission command inculcate mutual trust, shared understanding, mission orders, commanders intent, disciplined initiative, competence, and risk acceptance (Nilsson, 2020). The first principle, mutual trust, is the foundational principle for building a team that should be courageous enough to fight the enemy on the battleground. It is the degree of confidence and dependability that team members have that strengthen them internally to be better equipped with the required commitment to fight. The commitment that soldiers of Operation Anaconda from the U.S. side showed in their mission was seen as trust in their leaders and within their abilities. For instance, when the intelligence estimates were given to the U.S. officials that the enemy fighters could be 200-300 in number with light weapons instead of 1000, the officials trusted their guesses and contemplated upon their further actions of the plan to

6). However, later, the initial intelligence guestimates were wrong as the heavily armed enemy fighters were 700-1000 in numbers. With their resilience and trust in their skillfulness, the change in plan and actions turned the tables on the Taliban.

Another principle, shared understanding, was present in Operation Anaconda fighters since they knew the operational environment and the purpose they were teamed up. The contingency planning and the knowledge of the area, such as narrow pathways of the mountains, the exit routes if the enemy attacked them suddenly with force, and soil structure of the mountain, whether they are slippery or strong and sturdy for running, were to be deployed for the mission. The intelligence guesses were initially faulty since they plentifully relied on the friendliness of the Afghan troops who were supposed to act as the U.S. armys allies. The Taliban fighters were positioned along the ridgelines of the mountains with all the heavy machinery for fighting. The U.S. army had a shrewd sense of planning for critical contingencies that helped control the situation when in the combat zone so that innocent civilians should not be hurt.

The mission orders are to be followed by the troops to achieve the desired results. The U.S. army already set the priorities by devising the name of the mission, Anaconda, whose aim was to coil around its victim to crush it, as the Anaconda snake does (Kugler, 2007, p. 10). Similarly, when on 20th February, General Hagenback issued his formal orders for the mission, they were to be obeyed by the subordinates by allocating…

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