Analysis of Operation Anaconda Case Study


Begun and completed in 2002, operation Anaconda became the largest operation held in Afghanistan under United States’ tactical management. The army’s accomplishments and faults that were experienced in terms of the preparation and execution were fully counted by the US army. As a result, this operation positively impacted US forces’ tactical management background, particularly during the military invasion in Iraq in 2003 (Kugler, 2007). By implying and enforcing seven principles of successful mission execution, the US air and ground forces have demonstrated the effectiveness and importance of applying mental techniques in military operations’ performance.

Body Part: Seven Principles of Successful Mission Execution. Competence

First and foremost, competence played one of the most significant roles during the operation’s execution. Moreover, this quality was neglected in the preparation process, which was the fatal misjudgment that took seven lives on the Takur Ghar’s battle. In fact, competence is a special quality that can be developed only by using a multi-spectral approach (US Army, 2019). More specifically, all participants of the mission should be prepared from theoretical, practical, and emotional perspectives. By applying competency during the Anaconda mission, the US army had significant competency in both theoretical and practical approaches by preparing a ‘hammer and anvil’ attack and successfully adjusting the battlefield tactics to the main strategy. However, the emotional competency has been the fragile side of US air and ground forces preparation, and neglecting the enemy’s possibility and wish to confront majorly led the mission to troop’s confusion, eight military deaths, and 50 wounds.

Mutual Trust

When it comes to mutual trust, the tactical preparation process might be considered as a distinctive example of effective coordination. While examining different methods and approaches, the US air and ground forces administration has demonstrated their respect to each other through the attack zones distribution. Theoretically, ground forces should have been executing the encircling while air forces should have executed the main attack on the most valuable enemies’ objects. However, in reality, the mutual trust was lost at the very beginning of the operation due to practical misunderstandings during Al-Quaid’s aggressive defend (Kugler, 2007). Eventually, the loss of mutual trust resulted in leaving the infantry alone without air force help. At the same time, since the tactical administration executed effective reorientation of forces distribution, the mission has been successfully accomplished despite the human deaths and technical losses.

Risk Acceptance

In military service, risk acceptance is an inevitable part of any mission’s execution since human life is put in the constantly dangerous zone. However, by effectively managing the risks between losing additional troops and gaining the strategically important area, the tactical administration succeeded in the Anaconda operation (Kugler, 2007). More specifically, putting the infantry in direct frontal opposition with Taliban forces was a risky but important decision since it revealed and ineffectively mobilized the enemy’s forces so that the US army gained an opportunity to successfully execute the mission by attacking the adversary from the air only.

Disciplined Initiative

Even though the Anaconda operation is not an example of a massive human-losing battle, significant braveness combined with sufficient subordination was one of the reasons for the absolute enemy’s defeat. The disciplined initiative was majorly represented through US forces’ urgency of winning an important part of the territory with emotionally unprepared troops and administration (US Army, 2019). As a result, by adjusting soldiers’ tactics to the general strategy, some of the infantry representatives succeeded in taking a large part of Taliban troops on the uncomfortable territory for executing frontal battles. This initiative let the air forces perform a concentrated attack on the vast majority of adversaries’ human and military resources and finish the operation successfully.

Commander’s Intent

The main purpose of the commander’s intent is considered to be the successful execution of key tasks with minimum risk exposure. In the Anaconda operation’s case, the commander’s intent was failed firstly due to the underappreciation of the enemy’s emotional readiness to demonstrate opposition. However, after the tactical tasks’ adaptation to the situation, the commander’s intent was successfully demonstrated through balancing the high-speed attack and pullback defense. As a result, the main infantry’s task was executed since the adversaries were distributed majorly on the open territory so that it would be easy for air forces to eliminate enemies’ forces.

Mission Orders

During the Anaconda operation, mission orders played a significant role due to their relative objectivity of what task should be executed and absolute subjectivity in terms of soldiers’ approaches. On the one hand, the administration’s mission orders were vague enough at the beginning of the operation so that the Shahi-Kot valley attack was prolonged by more than one week (Kugler, 2007). On the other hand, the infantry commanders executed the successive attack on Takur-Ghar mountain despite the human losses by pronouncing effective orders.

Shared Understanding

Last but not least, shared understanding is a distinctive quality of all the US Army units within the same group of troops due to significantly practical experience and effective educational administration. In the Anaconda operation’s case, even though the US forces, in general, were not in agreement, all of the army’s parts were effectively coordinated within every military unit. Consequently, the adversary was put in an uncomfortable situation due to the lack of internal organization, while US troops had the joint vision of strategy.


Finally, the Anaconda operation was a great example of how the seven principles of effective mission execution might lead the army to the absolute win with relative human and technical losses. By understanding the functionality of these principles, US forces succeeded in rapidly adjusting the tactics to the mission’s reality and executing planned strategical moves. Even though all the principles had a significant impact on the operation’s success, people’s competency, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance were the three most influential factors that enabled the US army to avoid massive frontal opposition and minimize total losses.


Kugler, R. (2007). Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan: a case study of adaptation in battle. Center for Technology and National Security Policy.

US Army, United States Government. (2019). Army doctrine publication ADP 6–0 mission command: command and control of army forces July 2019. Department of the Army.

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DemoEssays. "Analysis of Operation Anaconda Case Study." January 7, 2023.