Operation Anaconda: The Mission Command Principles


The art of leadership is combined with the technology of management in command and control. The skill of commanding is utilized to wield power, lead, and make rapid choices. The science of administration is used by commanders and staff to regulate troops and guide the implementation of activities to correspond to their leader’s objective (Bighinatti, 2018). Operation Anaconda involved the use of unusual tactics and principles whose peculiarity made it a memorable part of history.

The application of the foundational mission command concept and the service strategy warfighting functionality, governed by the ideas of command and control, is referred to as mission command practice. The tactical and operational counterinsurgency function, consisting of a sequence of mutually supportive duties, carries out the mission command concept. The failure of all six mission command philosophy concepts was proved in Operation Anaconda, which formed the spark for altering the way the U.S. waged war (Caruso, 2019). Each principle had a personal shortcoming that was a significant obstacle to overcome to complete the task.

Mutual Trust

The U.S. had received the trust of allied countries and the Northern Alliance’s much-needed logistical support. On the other hand, the Afghan forces were not from the battle-tested Northern Alliance but a regional, inexperienced Pashtun power throughout Operation Anaconda. Unfortunately, the Pashtun army revealed that they were vastly outclassed by their Northern Alliance rivals (Bighinatti, 2018). They lacked the motivation and aptitude to adapt to changes in their operational environment if given the opportunity. A more general perception between the U.S. Army and the Pashtun force would have helped them take more control of their vital part in the operation.

Shared Understanding

The aim of mutual understanding is for leaders, staff, and united action colleagues to have a common understanding of their operational area, mission, challenges, and solutions. This is primarily due to the multi-head leadership structure and insufficient time to specify appropriate solutions to issues that may arise. The Pashtun army lacked a shared sense of the significance of their involvement in the mission (Bighinatti, 2018). They had not been adequately trained in the combat style they were to carry out. The militia did not notice the immense image or recognize how paramount they were to the task’s achievement.

Clear Commander’s Intent

The U.S. standing army in Afghanistan was not completely developed when Operation Anaconda was conducted. This military leadership had many commanders from different agencies, each of whom played a unique position in the operation’s accomplishment. A separate commander from the one in charge of ground forces had to authorize bombings (Ball, 2017). The officers on the ground were unable to exercise mission command due to this sort of command organization.

Exercise Disciplined Initiative

By refusing to perform when unanticipated threats appeared, the Pashtun militia revealed a lack of disciplined initiative. On the other hand, the U.S. troops demonstrated disciplined initiative by adjusting to the circumstances and acting when unexpected dangers arose. The goal of the U.S. soldiers was to protect the valley’s evacuation route. U.S. troops changed their initial strategy from a screwdriver approach to one that involved massive airstrikes on the valley’s eastern edges in support of U.S. Army objectives (Ball, 2017). The required improvements were created as part of this adaption, and the combat tide would soon swing to the Americans’ advantage.

Mission Orders

Assets like aerial support, powerful artillery, and soldiers were not adequately assigned for the mission, owing to erroneous data. Mission instructions specify the intended outcomes but do not specify how they will be achieved. The developmental stage is emphasized in mission orders, which provide for the most flexibility in completing the task. The soldiers on the ground were initially being subjected to a substantially greater prudent potential cause than expected because of the poor first intelligence source. Only after the operation orders were modified did the moderate potential risk become tolerable.

Prudent Risk

The upcoming combat would be conducted with light weapons and last little more than three days, according to intelligence estimates for Operation Anaconda. Nevertheless, it lasted seven days of heavy warfare before ending seventeen days later (Caruso, 2019). The commanding officer considered these criteria because he determined that the calculated risk of harm or loss would be worth the investment; this is a reasonable risk. As soon as the war began, the amount of prudent risk grew to an untenable level.


The tactical goal was accomplished, albeit with a more considerable death toll than expected or justified. The command structure of the U.S. military was oriented such that just one commander was in control. According to the blunders of Operation Anaconda, mission directives that distribute tasks and distribute resources became more precise. The operation was intended to carry out demonstrate the necessity for a fundamental shift in how the United States conducted military operations. It demonstrated the American government’s capacity to complete a mission in the face of overwhelming odds and succeed irrespective of the prospects of victory. The action demonstrated the military’s flexibility to cope with and surmount unexpected challenges. Operation Anaconda was essential to the achievement of international battles for the U.S. army.


Ball, R. (2017). Review of relentless strike: The secret history of joint special operations command. Global Security & Intelligence Studies, 2(2), 27758.

Bighinatti, M. (2018). Creating a historical archival system for an active military division.

Caruso, D. (2019). Operation anaconda. Taylor & Francis. 334-336.

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