“Operation Enduring Freedom” (OEF) is the official name used by the U.S. government for the War in Afghanistan, together with a number of smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the global “War on Terror” (GWOT).
The operation was originally called “Operation Infinite Justice” (often misquoted as “Operation Ultimate Justice”), but as similar phrases have been used by adherents of several religions as an exclusive description of God, it is believed to have been changed to avoid offense to Muslims, who are the majority religion in Afghanistan. U.S. President George W. Bush’s remark that “this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while”, which prompted widespread criticism from the Islamic world, may also have contributed to the renaming of the operation. (Source: Wikipedia)
Air Power Against Terror: America’s Conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom, 2005 [458 Pages, 2.39 MB] – The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, caught the United States and its leaders completely off guard. They also defined the face of early 21st-century conflict by elevating radical Islamist terrorism to the level of a core threat to U.S. security. The attacks were the boldest hostile act to have been committed on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. As such, they prompted a feeling of unity throughout United States perhaps unmatched since the nation’s entry into World War II. Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, the U.S. government quickly determined that they were the work of the wealthy Saudi Arabian exile, Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda terrorist network.
Causes of Nonbattle Injury Fatalities Among U.S. Army Soldiers During Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2001-2006 [37 Pages, 1.78 MB] – As with previous military conflicts, nonbattle injuries (NBIs) are a major cause of mortality in Operations Enduring (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The purpose of this retrospective analysis was to 1) describe the incidence and rate of fatal NBls in OEF and OIF from their beginning through December 2006, 2) describe the causes and circumstances of fatal NBls, and 3) compare two Army data systems that report fatal NBI incidents. This analysis included all U.S. Army Soldiers who died from nonbattle injuries while deployed for OEF (October 2001 – December 2006) or OIF (March 2003 – December 2006). An NBI fatality case was defined as any Soldier (Regular Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard) who died due to a nonbattle injury sustained while in a deployed status for OEF or OIF, including while on midtour leave. This investigation included nonbattle injUry fatalities resulting from 1) unintentional injury incidents, 2) intentional incidents (e.g., homicides, suicides), and 3) physical training. NBls were responsible for 21 percent of all deaths in OEF and OIF. The leading causes of fatal injury were land transport vehicle accidents (41 percent), self-inflicted wounds (18 percent), and air transportrelated accidents (18 percent). Measures have been taken to improve the rate of NBI fatalities during these deployments. More prevention strategies must be researched, implemented, and continually taught to Soldiers in theater to reduce these potentially avoidable deaths.
The Changing Face of Disability in the US Army: The Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Effect, August 2012 [9 Pages, 251 kb] – Orthopaedic disorders account for significant disability among adults in the United States. Previous studies have demonstrated long-term disability in military personnel with musculoskeletal conditions. However, these studies focused primarily on battle field injured service members and did not evaluate the entire population. The goal of this study was to determine and compare the disabling conditions of the entire United States Army during peacetime and war. We identified the conditions leading to separation from military service before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During war, more soldiers are found to be unfit for duty, and they have more conditions per individual that make them unfit. Orthopaedic conditions account for the greatest number of soldiers separated from military service at both time points studied (ie, January through March 2001, January through March 2009). Back pain and osteoarthritis are the two most common causes of separation from military service; these conditions are responsible for the most disability during peacetime and war.
Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs to More Accurately Capture and Report the Costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, March 2009 [37 Pages, 582 kb] – Since September 11, 2001, Congress has provided about $808 billion to the Department of Defense (DoD) for the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) in addition to funding in DoD’s base budget. Prior GAO reports have found DoD’s reported GWOT cost data unreliable and found problems with transparency over certain costs. In response, DoD has made several changes to its cost-reporting procedures. Congress has shown interest in increasing the transparency of DoD’s cost reporting and funding requests for GWOT. Under the Comptroller General’s authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, GAO assessed the following: (1) DoD’s progress in improving the accuracy and reliability of its GWOT cost reporting, and (2) DoD’s methodology for reporting GWOT costs by contingency operation. For this engagement, GAO analyzed GWOT cost data and applicable guidance, as well as DoD’s corrective actions. GAO is recommending that DoD do the following: (1) establish a methodology for determining what portion of GWOT costs is attributable to Operation Iraqi Freedom versus Operation Enduring Freedom, and (2) develop a plan and timetable for evaluating whether certain expenses are incremental and should continue to be funded outside of DoD’s base budget. DoD agreed with the first recommendation and partially agreed with the second.
Intertheater Airlift Challenges of Operation Enduring Freedom [12 Pages, 137 kb] – Between Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM in 1990-1991 and ENDURING FREEDOM in 2001-2002, the Air Force modernized its intertheater mobility. It acquired significant numbers of new C-17 aircraft, created Air Mobility Command to centralize control of long-range transports and tankers, launched an expeditionary force deployment system, modernized its materiel handling equipment, and improved its embarkation airlift schedules. Despite all of these strategic airlift improvements, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM faced challenges the Southwest Asia War did not, including lack of theater infrastructure, hostile fire in the theater, shortages of diplomatic clearances, and the absence of a preliminary operations plan that included intertheater airlift to Afghanistan. Strategic airlift problems that persisted through both conflicts included failures in automated planning systems, insufficient in-transit visibility, initial shortages of theater bases, overloaded staging bases, low mission-capability rates for older transports, and unnecessary airlift of cargo that could have gone by alternative means. Future air mobility managers would do well to address the persistence of these problems in their planning.
Operation Enduring Freedom: An Assessment, January 2005 [4 Pages, 193 kb] – The United States conducted Operation Enduring Freedom from land bases and aircraft carriers positioned far away from the landlocked combat zone. Yet, al Qaeda’s infrastructure and the supporting Taliban regime in Afghanistan were destroyed. Global communications connectivity and the common operating picture that was made possible by linking the inputs of unmanned aerial vehicles and other sensors enabled a close partnership between airmen and U.S. Special Operations Forces on the ground. Such networked operations are now the cutting edge of an ongoing shift in American combat style.
Operation Enduring Freedom: Foreign Pledges of Military and Intelligence Support, 17 Oct 2001 [15 Pages, 145 kb] – In response to the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, a number of countries and organizations have pledged military and intelligence support of operations against the Al Qaeda network and the Taliban in Afghanistan. This report summarizes public and media statements made by 76 nations and organizations concerning their military and intelligence support of operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The report does not track humanitarian or law enforcement assistance, or the freezing or seizure of financial assets controlled by terrorists. It will be updated as necessary. For detailed information on the U.S. response to terrorism, see the CRS Terrorism Electronic Briefing Book. The organizations include the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council, NATO, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations.
Operation Enduring Freedom as an Enabling Campaign In the War on Terrorism, 22 May 2003 [55 Pages, 203 kb] – The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left the American public in a state of anguish and anger. With the debris still smoldering in the streets of New York, Bush stated that the United States and all those who want global peace will stand united to win the war against terrorism. Less than a month later, Bush announced the beginning of Operation Enduring freedom, the first military action in the broad campaign against terrorism. James W. Reed wrote Should Deterrence Fail: War Termination in Campaign Planning focusing on campaign planning and design. In the article, Reed describes the relationship between terminal and enabling campaigns. The terminal campaign seeks war termination as an endstate. James W. Reed defines an enabling campaign as achieving some intermediate strategic objectives short of termination. With this in mind, is Operation Enduring Freedom an effective enabling campaign to create conditions for the defeat of terrorism in the Central Command area of responsibility? The methodology for determining the effectiveness of Operation Enduring Freedom is in two pieces. First, is the campaign adequate, feasible, and acceptable? This three part criteria is how joint doctrine evaluates effectiveness. Second, do the operational objectives nest within the strategic endstate? According to Reed, enabling campaigns help create the conditions for a terminal campaign. Therefore, a linkage between the operational objectives and the terminal campaign that achieves the strategic endstate is imperative. The Italian Campaign offers a historical case study of an enabling campaign. By comparing the Italian Campaign with Operation Enduring Freedom, the strengths and weakness of each generate lessons applicable to the future of the war on terrorism.
Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08: Iraq. Operation Enduring Freedom 8: Afghanistan, 14 Feb 2008 [224 Pages, 31.15 MB] – The fifth Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) was established by the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General. Historically, teams have been formed to support requests from the Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I); however, for MHAT V the request from MNFI-I was augmented by a request from the Service Chief, Army Central Command (ARCENT) to examine Soldiers in Afghanistan and Kuwait. The current MHAT report contains two separate reports – one for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) which includes a section on Soldiers in Kuwait, and one for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).The mission of MHAT V was to: 1. Assess Soldier mental health and well-being 2. Examine the delivery of behavioral health care in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 3. Provide recommendations for sustainment and improvement to command. Both of the reports have executive summaries providing key findings and recommendations specific to OIF and OEF. Partial contents of these reports include the following topics: Morale, Mental Health, Performance and Ethical Behavior; Sustainment of Soldier Resilience; Strengthening Families; Behavioral Health Care in Theater; Increase in the Number of Behavioral Health Personnel; Soldier Behavioral Health and Performance Indices; Soldier Risk Factors; Soldier Protective Factors; Soldier Focus Groups; Behavioral Health Care System Assessment; Primary Care Survey; Unit Ministry Team Survey; Military Transition Teams Mental Health and Welfare; Soldiers Stationed in Kuwait; Theater Suicide and Suicide Prevention.
Special Forces Command and Control in Afghanistan, 18 Jun 2004 [70 Pages, 208 kb] – The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of the command and control relationship between Special Forces and conventional forces. The author examines how Special Forces and conventional forces worked together in the past in Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. The primary case study presented and discussed is the integration of Special Forces and conventional forces in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Enduring Freedom in serves as a case study in practice and doctrinal application. (2 figures, 62 refs.)
Special Operations in Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom: Background and Issues for Congress, 15 Oct 2001[7 Pages, 2.39 MB] – Special Operations Forces (SOF) are elite, specialized military units that can be inserted behind the lines through land, sea, or air to conduct a variety of operations, many of them clandestine. SOF units are expected to play an important role in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. military campaign against terrorists. This short report provides background information and issues for Congress on U.S. SOF units and will be updated as events warrant.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Care and Treatment of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans, 25 Nov 2009 [19 Pages, 330 kb] – Traumatic brain injury (TBI), defined in the medical literature as a disruption in brain function that is caused by a head injury, has become known as one of the “signature wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan due to its high occurrence in post-deployment service members and veterans of these wars. As service members return home, many need ongoing care for mild, moderate, or severe TBI. The growing number of TBI patients and the nature of their injuries creates the need for increased treatment capacity for veterans, and raises a number of policy issues that Congress may move to consider. Due to the variable nature of TBI injury and recovery, there is not one standard of care or treatment regimen for TBI; patients’ needs are diverse, depending on the severity of illness and the presence of co-conditions. It has been estimated by a recent RAND study that as many as 20% of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans experience TBI. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has screened almost 250,000 OEF/OIF veterans entering the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system as of January 2009. As service members return home, these numbers will increase. VA provides a wide range of services to address the needs of veterans with TBI, including outreach, education, and benefits enrollment information. The FY2010 VA Budget included assurances that VA is working to fund programs that improve veterans’ access to mental health services across the country, including those who suffer from TBI as a result of their service in OEF/OIF. In responding to this influx of veterans with TBI and other common OEF/OIF illnesses, policy makers and others have identified areas of concern, including challenges in screening, diagnosis, treatment, and access to care. This report provides a review of TBI as an illness, its prevalence among veterans, current activity to address the issue in the VA, and current policy issues.
United States Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, 25 March 2009 [9 Pages, 363 kb] – This report presents difficult-to-find statistics regarding U.S. military casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan), including those concerning medical evacuations, amputations, and the demographics of casualties. Some of these statistics are publically available at the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) website, whereas others have been obtained through contact with experts at DOD.
Why Won’t You Drop, Damn You!? An Examination of the Targeting Process in Operation Enduring Freedom and its Implications [25 Pages, 265 kb] – As the American way of war is evolving to emphasize maneuver, speed of execution and the extensive use of air power to Support ground schemes of maneuver, the need of effective rapid targeting through decentralized execution is becoming more critical than ever. What are the lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom and how effectively have US forces implemented them in Operation Iraqi Freedom?. This paper will examine the decision making process for rapid targeting in OEF from the strike fighter pilot through the watch officer in the Combined Air Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base to the operational commander. It will draw some conclusions on the effectiveness on the process in OEF and how lessons learned were applied in OIF. The three virtues of an effective operational commander called for in this paper are: (1) A clarity in communicating his intent, ROE and acceptable risk; (2) Foresight in designing his joint staff to handle crises quickly and correctly; and (3) An understanding of the capabilities and limitations in the new weapons systems at his disposal. The best environment to hone these skills is the training environment, long before actual combat. It is also apparent that the unexpectedness of combat in Afghanistan required a hasty command structure that allowed some confusion at all levels, from the operational commander to the trigger-pullers. At first impression, it appears that US Central Command learned the lessons from OEF and applied them with extreme effectiveness in OIF. One question that will have to be addressed as more data is available is whether CENTCOM over-reacted to challenges in OEF and allowed too much autonomy at the tactical level.