Running Estimates and the Battle of Wanat

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Running Estimates
Battle of Wanat

On July 13, 2008, Taliban fighters launched a major assault on a small U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan, killing nine soldiers and wounding 27. The story of Wanat is more then just one small group of commanders’ mistakes; it is a window into how the war in Afghanistan went awry and how we can learn from these mistakes to better future missions and future leaders.
Combat Outpost Kahler was a small, remote outpost in northeast Afghanistan adjacent to the village of Wanat in the Nuristan Province, manned by 48 U.S soldiers and 24 Afghanistan National Army soldiers and their three U.S Marine Corp advisors. It was attacked on July 13, 2008 by a significantly larger number of Taliban insurgent forces that used stealth, camouflage, communications discipline, and rapid movement over extremely rough mountainous terrain to establish positions close to the COP’s perimeter. The insurgents used coordinated rocket propelled grenades, small arms and heavy machine gun fire, and mortar barrages to inflict heavy casualties on the outpost. Ultimately, nine U.S soldiers were killed and 27 U.S and four ANA soldiers were wounded. To understand why this battle occurred and how it could have been avoided one must understand a few other things.

AO/ Area of Interest-
In December 2007, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In March 2008, the Division Headquarters, the Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, and the 101st Sustainment Brigade joined the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Combined Joint Task Force 101. The Battalion identified the village of Wanat as a location that would support the development ...

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Following the battle it was determined that Coalition Forces could no longer achieve their counterinsurgency objectives in Wanat, due to complicity in the attack by the local government officials, population, and Afghan National police. On July 15, 2008, Coalition Forces withdrew from Wanat.

The original mission in October of 2001 was the destruction of al- Qaeda forces responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the overthrow of the Taliban regime that had given al-Qaeda a safe haven. Those goals had been met rather quickly and by the spring of 2002, Afghanistan had a new government and was seemingly proceeding down the path toward democracy. Coalition forces remained in Afghanistan but in the latter half of 2002 and through 2003, United States units largely resided in a small number of bases from which they mounted periodic security missions.

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