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Posted: 5/24/2002 2:51:32 PM EST
Los Angeles Times: Equipment Faulted in 'Anaconda' Losses


Equipment Faulted in 'Anaconda' Losses
Military: Gen. Tommy Franks rules out human error in an ecounter with Al Qaeda
that resulted in deaths of seven Americans.
From Associated Press

May 24 2002, 1:18 PM PDT

WASHINGTON -- The deadliest firefight for the United States in the Afghan war--
a mountain battle that killed seven Americans-- was beset by communications
problems, the Pentagon said today.

The war commander, Army Gen. Tommy Franks, attributed the problems to the harsh
weather and equipment failures, such as broken radios and shot-up helicopters,
rather than to human error.

In a leadup to Memorial Day, he praised the bravery of the troops and the
success, though costly, of the operation in recounting the battle on the frigid
mountaintop against dug-in Al Qaeda fighters. A commando who fell out of a
helicopter and six soldiers who tried to rescue him were killed.

"That battle showed heroism," Franks said. "It showed fog, uncertainty, it
showed friction, elements common to every war I think we've fought."

"In the end the bravery and the audacity and certainly the tenacity of the
people involved in that operation carried the day."

During the battle, in March in an area of eastern Afghanistan the locals call
Takur Ghar, U.S. commanders watched helplessly as a Predator drone relayed live
video of some of the fighting.

The operation was hurt by communications problems, from a reconnaissance flight
that failed to detect Al Qaeda forces lying in wait to the difficulties that
troops on the ground and in helicopters had in raising their commanders and
nearby warplane pilots.

Franks indicated troops in the heat of the fight might have used a wrong radio

But he said no changes in command arrangements between regular and special
forces were made as a result of a Pentagon review. He said of the people on the
scene that day: "I think their judgments were good."

Nor did he think it was extraordinary that equipment would malfunction given the
circumstances. "In the middle of a firefight, things will get shot up," he said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was briefed on the review's findings on

-- continued --
Link Posted: 5/24/2002 2:57:09 PM EST
"As in most human endeavors, plans are never executed exactly the way they're
developed," Rumsfeld said.

The battle was part of Operation Anaconda, a U.S.-led effort to encircle and
eliminate a large number of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the mountains south
of Gardez. It began early in the morning of March 4, when a CH-47 Chinook
helicopter tried to drop a team of Navy SEAL commandos near the top of a

There were heavily armed Al Qaeda fighters there, and they shot at the chopper
with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The helicopter was hit, and as
it lurched away to safety, Navy Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts tumbled
out the rear door.

Roberts survived the fall, but was eventually surrounded and killed by the Al
Qaeda fighters.

Six others were killed as two other Chinooks dropped in teams to rescue Roberts
or recover his body.

One man, Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, was with Roberts' group of SEALs.
They had boarded another Chinook and returned to the mountain to get Roberts but
also came under fire and fell back, farther down the mountain, before the third
Chinook arrived.

Five of the dead were from that last team, Army Rangers and Air Force commandos
whose Chinook landed after daybreak at the spot where Roberts fell out of his
helicopter. The third Chinook also came under heavy fire and was disabled; it
was believed that the four Rangers killed were shot either inside the helicopter
or as they were trying to leave it.

The surviving members of the Ranger unit battled the Al Qaeda forces for hours
before being evacuated.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at
latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to
Link Posted: 5/24/2002 3:20:51 PM EST
Talk about a non-article... all this print and it doesn't SAY anything, certainly doesn't support its title...

The only problem with Anaconda was that it was too small, there was too little of EVERYTHING except the enemy. Weither we just underestimated the size of enemy or that simply was all the force the Air Force could fly into the country and supply at the time is not yet evident... but it seems clear now that lots of people got away from us cause we didn't have enough troops to seal off the escape routes to Pakistan.
Link Posted: 5/24/2002 3:36:10 PM EST
One thing that I found interesting, is that communications was really important. Remember the scene in BlackHawk Down where they had to go thru an intermediary between the generals and the convoy. Could this was the same problem with a few different twists?
Link Posted: 5/24/2002 3:44:55 PM EST
Earlier this week someone here posted a statement from one of the men at this gunfight.
What happened to it?
Link Posted: 5/24/2002 6:41:55 PM EST
Here is a much better article at the washingtonpost.  Way too long to post here.  It's a two parter, it goes into better detail.

Link Posted: 5/24/2002 7:18:11 PM EST
Earlier this week someone here posted a statement from one of the men at this gunfight.
What happened to it?
View Quote

Latest Detailed Story of Op Anaconda Battle

Zabo: the reason I posted the above was because it was from Gen. Tommy Franks perspective.
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