Small Wars Journal

What Really Happened in Wanat?

CNN's Drew Griffin reports on calls to hold U.S. military brass responsible for a deadly 2008 battle in Afghanistan.



Thu, 03/31/2011 - 10:38am

I read the link from MaryR....

Most of the study revolved around the failure of the M4 in combat and one paragraph actually identified leadership failures in the chain of command.

War is an ugly business. Soldiers will fight battles and some will die. This platoon suffered due to poor logistical planning as well as IPB. Also, according to the CNN video, local leaders warned the unit of a pending insurgent attack.

Nothing would have prevented this attack however the outcome could have been drastically different. We can use hindsight to prevent a future Wanat, but the Army as an institution must be honest with itself. This attack as well as tragic attack in the Korengal Valley should be taken and lessons need to be learned from them. It starts with honest assessments and holding those responsible, responsible. If an officer is willing to take the credit, be prepared to take the blame.

RH (not verified)

Wed, 03/30/2011 - 10:19am

I read the Army official account of the Battle of Wanat with great degree of detail. That said and looking at the various critical issues of this tragic situation, I came away from the various articles to include the official Army historical review, the following:

1. Topside, the observation post was located where the main COP could not see it, thereby increasing the communication process and allowing the insurgents a singular target without supporting fire from the COP.

2. The COP was located within the confines of the village of Wanat. I suppose this was to affirm the "hearts and minds" initiative..or "getting close to the population" to protect the locals. If I recall correctly, the locals had already affirmed their "jiad" ideology against the Americans. (Why do we always make the mistake that we are welcome by the locals..)

3. Water and substance supplies were low impacting the construction/reinforcement of the COP..something the locals could easily observe while they sipped tea.

4. The terrain was ideally suited to the insurgents; they had the benefit of concealment, surprise and reinforcement...

5. The 60mm mortar was in the middle of the was never used during the course of the battle.

To blame a 2nd LT for the depth of the issues causing what was an opportunity for the insurgents to attack the COP is disgusting. With the importance of a new COP in bad guy territory, commanders, S-2 and others should of taken the time and effort to analyse the location, the mood of the locals and the placement of weapons to provide supporting fire to each component of the COP.

The commanders were at that time burdened with many issues..but, that said, the lack of effort and time spent on the locational issues of Wanat did in fact cause the deaths of nine Soldiers from the 173rd...