11 June 2019
(U) WHAT INSIGHTS ARE DERIVED FROM OPERATION ANACONDA IN REGARDS TO THE NCO COMMON CORE COMPENTENCY (NCOCCC) OF OPERATIONS? (U) The NCOCCC of Operations is a combination of operational skill sets that, when mastered by senior leaders can save lives and ensure effective unified action. Some of its key tenets include: Large-scale combat operations; understanding operational and mission variables; resolving complex, ill-structured problems with the use of Mission Command; and understanding how to integrate the different branches of the military into successful joint operations (Department of the Army [DA], 2020, pp. 2-3). This final principle of conducting joint operations becomes increasingly important as contemporary conflicts continue to venture further into the realm of multi-domain warfare. (Marr, 2018, pp. 10-11). In order to execute such a complex task, Joint Force Commanders (JFC) must “integrate, synchronize, and direct joint operations” through the use of seven Joint Functions (Joint Chiefs of Staff [JCS], 2017, p. III-1). One of these functions, Command and Control, is how the JFC directs the forces toward accomplishment of the mission, and its essential task is to “Communicate and ensure the flow of information across the staff and joint force” (JCS, 2017, p. III-2). This task is critical to the creation of a shared understanding, which allows the separate branches to work seamlessly together toward a common goal. The absence of this unifying component hinders missions and increases casualties. In Operation ANACONDA, JFC Major General (MG) Hagenbeck failed to create such a shared understanding with his subordinate Air Force assets, which contributed to increasing the amount of casualties his forces incurred. Although the warning order was published on 6 January, MG Hagenbeck did not notify the Combined Force Air Component Commander of Operation ANACONDA until 23 February, just days before the operation began (Fleri et al., 2003). This failure to ensure the flow of information across the joint force, caused downstream effects in planning and preparation that led to diminished air support during the initial stages of the operation. As noted by Lambeth (2005) in his comprehensive analysis, “because so little air support had been requested…coalition troops entered the fight virtually unprotected by any preparatory and suppressive fire” (pp. 204-205). Operation Anaconda provides a clear case of how proficiency in the realm of Operations can result in fewer U.S. casualties.
Kenneth P. Mullan/MLC 20-008
APPROVED BY: MSG Brian Brown
Fleri, E., Howard, E., Hulkill, J., & Searle, T. R. (2003). Operation Anaconda case study. College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education.
Joint Chiefs of Staff. (2017). Joint Operations (JP 3-0). https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_0ch1.pdf?ver=2018-11-27-160457-910
Lambeth, B.S. (2005). Air power against terror: America’s conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg166centaf.13?seq=1
Marr, S. (2018). Stability in Multi-Domain Battle. U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.
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