Not A Good Day to Die by Sean Naylor
This is the story of Operation Anaconda. The book covers it from its first planning stages in January 2002, through its conclusion in early March 2002. Up to this point, the war in Afghanistan had been conducted mainly by US Special Forces troops working with various Afghanistan groups and calling in US air assets. Anaconda was the first operation to involve large scale use of regular US forces. In this case elements of the 10th Mountain Division and the 101st Airborne Division. The first third of the book covers the planning and the background of the key players. This is fairly dry, but interesting and informative on why and how the fog of war effected the operation. Intelligence said that there were 200-250 Al Qaeda fighters in the intended AO. The plan was for Afghan forces, with Special Forces ‘advisers’ to confront the enemy, with ‘escape routes’ to be blocked by Afghan forces and elements of the 10th Mountain and 101st Airborne. The motto, ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’ is often referenced in various forms in this book. There were a lot more than 250 AQ fighters, estimates put it at 800 or more. They opened up the US forces almost immediately after they got out their helicopters with small arms, heavy machine guns, mortars, and in some cases artillery. The US forces responded with much more accurate fire and air strikes. Lots and lots of air strikes. From the CIA’s armed Predator drones to B-52s dropping JDAM bombs. The most effective though were the Apache helicopters, which got close enough to see the enemy and pour firepower right were it was needed. The fighting continued much longer than expected, in areas were it wasn’t expected, from a well dug in, and well supplied enemy force. Many of which got too see Allah personally. A well written book about a major operation that dispelled the common notion in early 2002, that the war in Afghanistan was almost over.
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