On this day in 2002, Operation Anaconda began in the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, fought in Afghanistan’s Shah-i-kot Valley. The first American battle of the twenty-first century, it was the largest American battle since Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War and was fought at the highest altitude that the United States had ever fought at an altitude of 9,000 feet.
It was seen as the last opportunity to kill off Al-Qaeda as a large group and some officials believed a new tactic was required in order to achieve this, but the U.S Army stuck with the method of using U.S Special Forces and airpower. The operation proved to be a failure, however, because while the aim was to destroy enemy forces, hundreds of forces managed to escape and wound up in Pakistan, where many of them still remain today. The American forces also mistakenly landed in the middle of the valley, as opposed to the outskirts, and as a result ended up in the middle of the Taliban’s kill zone.
Furthermore, fifteen American troops were killed in a conflict that lasted just two weeks, ending on March 19.