Operation Anaconda: America's First Major Battle in Afghanistan
Long before it became “Obama’s War,” the long-running conflict in Afghanistan was launched by President George W. Bush in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Only a few months later, Operation Anaconda sent American-led coalition forces into their most intensely brutal confrontation with Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in the Shar-i Kot Valley near the Pakistan border. The result was an unexpected set piece of conventional fighting in what has become an era of guerrilla warfare.
Drawing upon previously unavailable or neglected sources, Lester Grau and Dodge Billingsley give us the most complete and accurate account of this thirteen-day firefight waged in mountainous terrain nearly two miles above sea level. They describe how allied troops fought a fierce and well-entrenched enemy to a standstill, close to an old Soviet battlefield, and then drove them completely out of Afghanistan.
Grau and Billingsley’s account also highlights problems encountered in Anaconda and the lessons we should learn from their in-depth study. The Army and Air Force operated under conflicting views regarding the appropriate application of Close Air Support, and airpower both crippled and aided the overall effort. In addition, severe shortages of transport, attack helicopters, and artillery hampered the effort, while the acquisition and timely sharing of intelligence barely occurred at all and coalition relations frayed under the intense pressures of combat.
As an added bonus, the authors also include with the book a documentary on DVD that features interviews with soldiers who fought in Anaconda, provides additional information concerning major phases of the battle, and presents insightful commentary by Grau and by Billingsley, who was on the ground with U.S. forces for the operation.
Written by Lester W. Grau and Dodge Billingsley
Published by University Press of Kansas part of its Modern War Studies series. 464 pages, 32 photographs, 47 maps
*Includes the 52-minute documentary film, Shah-i-Khot: Valley Redoubt on DVD. The film, shot by Dodge Billingsley who was an embedded cinematographer, features combat footage of and key interviews with the members of the US Army’s 101st and 10th Mountain divisions and US Marine Corps Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369. Includes additional interview with author Les Grau. Standard Definition. 16:9
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