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Operation Enduring Freedom
Part of the War on Terror
US Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom.jpg
During Operation El Dorado in May 2004, U.S. Marines from Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, startle the owner of a compound who refused to open his door for a search.
Date7 October 2001 – ongoing
(20 years and 10 months)
LocationAfghanistan, Asia

Conflict ongoing


In Afghanistan:

  •  Afghanistan
  • United States
  •  United Kingdom
  •  Russia
  •  France
  •  Canada
  •  Poland
  •  Germany
  •  Italy
  •  Spain
  •  Czech Republic
  •  China
  •  Australia
  •  New Zealand
  •  NATO
  •  Ukraine
  •  Georgia
  •  Azerbaijan
  •  Uzbekistan
  •  Turkmenistan
  •  Tajikistan
  • ISAF
  • Former:

In the Philippines:

In Somalia/Horn of Africa:

  •  NATO
  •  Australia
  •  Azerbaijan
  •  Belarus
  •  France
  •  China
  •  Djibouti
  •  Ethiopia
  •  France
  •  Georgia
  •  Germany
  •  India
  •  Indonesia
  •  Kazakhstan
  •  Kenya
  •  South Korea
  •  Kyrgyzstan
  •  Malaysia
  •  New Zealand
  •  Norway
  •  Pakistan
  •  Russia
  •  Seychelles
  •  Singapore
  •  Somalia
  •  Tajikistan
  •  Turkmenistan
  •  Uganda
  •  Ukraine
  •  Uzbekistan
  •  United Kingdom
  • United States

In Georgia: (completed)

In Kyrgyzstan: (completed)

Other nations

In Afghanistan:

In the Philippines:

In Somalia:

In Sahara:

  • Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
Commanders and leaders
United States GEN Tommy Franks (CENTCOM commander 2001–2003),
United States GEN John Abizaid (CENTCOM commander 2003–2007),
United States ADM William J. Fallon (CENTCOM commander 2007–2008),
United States LTG Martin Dempsey,
United Kingdom Air Chief Marshal Sir Graham Stirrup,
United States GEN David Petraeus (CENTCOM commander).
Afghanistan Mohammed Omar,
Flag of al-Qaeda.svg Osama bin Laden†,
Flag of al-Qaeda.svg Ayman al-Zawahiri,
Flag of Jihad.svg Khadaffy Janjalani†,
Flag of Jihad.svg Riduan Isamuddin (POW)
Casualties and losses

Afghanistan 10,000+ killed
Canada 158 killed[2]
Ethiopia 3,800+ killed
France 86 killed[2]
Germany 54 killed[2]
Italy 48 killed[2]
Philippines 450+ killed
Somalia 1,120+ killed
United Kingdom 444 killed[2]
United States 2,286 killed[2]

Others 300 killed[2]

"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"),[3] 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.[4] 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.[4]

The Operation comprises several subordinate operations:

  1. Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan (OEF-A)
  2. Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines (OEF-P) (formerly Operation Freedom Eagle)
  3. Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)
  4. Operation Enduring Freedom - Pankisi Gorge (completed in 2004)
  5. Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) (see also Insurgency in the Maghreb)
  6. Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America (OEF-CCA)

The term "OEF" typically refers to the war in Afghanistan. Other operations, such as the Georgia Train and Equip Program, are only loosely or nominally connected to OEF, such as through government funding vehicles.[5] All the operations, however, have a focus on counterterrorism activities.

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, which is a joint U.S., U.K. and Afghan operation, is separate from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is an operation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations including the U.S. and U.K. The two operations run in parallel, and although it has been intended that they merge for some time, this has not yet happened.


In response to the attacks of 11 September, the early combat operations that took place on 7 October 2001 to include a mix of strikes from land-based B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, carrier-based F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighters, and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from both U.S. and British ships and submarines signaled the start of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A).

The initial military objectives of OEF-A, as articulated by Former President George W. Bush in his 20 September Address to a Joint Session of Congress and his 7 October address to the country, included the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al-Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan."[6][7][8]

In January 2002, over 1,200 soldiers from the United States Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) deployed to the Philippines to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their push to uproot terrorist forces on the island of Basilan. Of those groups included are Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah.[9] The operation consisted of training the AFP in counter-terrorist operations as well as supporting the local people with humanitarian aid in Operation Smiles.[10]

In October 2002, the Combined Task Force 150 and United States military Special Forces established themselves in Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier. The stated goals of the operation were to provide humanitarian aid and patrol the Horn of Africa to reduce the abilities of terrorist organizations in the region. Similar to OEF-P, the goal of humanitarian aid was emphasised, ostensibly to prevent militant organizations from being able to take hold amongst the population as well as reemerge after being removed.

The military aspect involves coalition forces searching and boarding ships entering the region for illegal cargo as well as providing training and equipment to the armed forces in the region. The humanitarian aspect involves building schools, clinics and water wells to enforce the confidence of the local people.

Since 2001, the cumulative expenditure by the U.S. government on Operation Enduring Freedom has exceeded $150 billion.[11]

The operation continues, with military direction mostly coming from United States Central Command.

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A)

The Taliban

Seizing upon a power vacuum after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan after their invasion, the Taliban assumed the role of government from 1996–2001. Their extreme interpretation of Islamic law prompted them to ban music, television, sports, and dancing, and enforce harsh judicial penalties (See Human rights in Afghanistan). Amputation was an accepted form of punishment for stealing,[12][13] and public executions could often be seen at the Kabul football stadium.[14][15] Women's rights groups around the world were frequently critical as the Taliban banned women from appearing in public or holding many jobs outside the home. They drew further criticism when they destroyed the Buddhas of Bamyan, historical statues nearly 1500 years old, because the buddhas were considered idols.

In 1996, Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan upon the invitation of the Northern Alliance leader Abdur Rabb ur Rasool Sayyaf. When the Taliban came to power, bin Laden was able to forge an alliance between the Taliban and his al-Qaeda organization. It is understood that al-Qaeda-trained fighters known as the 055 Brigade were integrated with the Taliban army between 1997 and 2001. It has been suggested that the Taliban and bin Laden had very close connections.[16]

U.S.-led coalition action

On 20 September 2001, the U.S. stated that Osama bin Laden was behind the 11 September attacks in 2001. The U.S. made a five point ultimatum to the Taliban:.[17]

  1. Deliver to the U.S. all of the leaders of al-Qaeda
  2. Release all imprisoned foreign nationals
  3. Close immediately every terrorist training camp
  4. Hand over every terrorist and their supporters to appropriate authorities
  5. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps for inspection

On 21 September 2001, the Taliban rejected this ultimatum, stating there was no evidence in their possession linking bin Laden to the 11 September attacks.[18]

On 22 September 2001 the United Arab Emirates and later Saudi Arabia withdrew their recognition of the Taliban as the legal government of Afghanistan, leaving neighboring Pakistan as the only remaining country with diplomatic ties.

On 4 October 2001, it is believed that the Taliban covertly offered to turn bin Laden over to Pakistan for trial in an international tribunal that operated according to Islamic shar'ia law.[19] On 7 October 2001, the Taliban proposed to try bin Laden in Afghanistan in an Islamic court.[20] This proposition was immediately rejected by the U.S. Shortly afterward, the same day, United States and British forces initiated military action against the Taliban, bombing Taliban forces and al-Qaeda terrorist training camps.[21]

On 14 October 2001, the Taliban proposed to hand bin Laden over to a third country for trial, but only if they were given evidence of bin Laden's involvement in the events of 11 September 2001.[22] The U.S. rejected this proposal and ensued with military operations.

The UN Security Council, on 16 January 2002, unanimously established an arms embargo and the freezing of identifiable assets belonging to bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the remaining Taliban.

Combat operations start

5-country multinational fleet, during "Operation Enduring Freedom" in the Oman Sea. In four descending columns, from left to right: MM Maestrale (F 570), De Grasse (D 612); USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Charles De Gaulle (R 91), Surcouf (F 711); USS Port Royal (CG-73), HMS Ocean (L 12), USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), HNLMS Van Amstel (F 831); and MM Durand de la Penne (D 560).

On Sunday 7 October 2001, American and British forces began an aerial bombing campaign targeting Taliban forces and al-Qaeda.

The Northern Alliance, aided by a joint Special Operations team consisting of Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group, aircrew members from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), and Air Force Combat Controllers, fought against the Taliban. Aided by U.S. bombing and massive defections, they captured Mazari Sharif on 9 November. They then rapidly gained control of most of northern Afghanistan, and took control of Kabul on 13 November after the Taliban unexpectedly fled the city. The Taliban were restricted to a smaller and smaller region, with Kunduz, the last Taliban-held city in the north, captured on 26 November. Most of the Taliban fled to Pakistan.

The war continued in the south of the country, where the Taliban retreated to Kandahar. After Kandahar fell in December, remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda continued to mount resistance. Meanwhile, in November 2001 the U.S. military and its allied forces established their first ground base in Afghanistan to the south west of Kandahar, known as FOB Rhino.

The Battle of Tora Bora, involving U.S., British and Northern Alliance forces took place in December 2001 to further destroy the Taliban and suspected al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. In early March 2002 the United States military, along with allied Afghan military forces, conducted a large operation to destroy al-Qaeda in an operation code-named Operation Anaconda.

The operation was carried out by elements of the United States 10th Mountain Division, 101st Airborne Division, the U.S. special forces groups TF 11, TF Bowie, and TF Dagger, British Royal Marines, the Norwegian Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK), Hærens Jegerkommando and Marinejegerkommandoen, Canada's 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Canada's Joint Task Force 2, the Afghan National Army, the German KSK, and elements of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment and of the New Zealand Special Air Service.

After managing to evade U.S. forces throughout the summer of 2002, the remnants of the Taliban gradually began to regain their confidence. A U.S. and Canadian led operation (supported by British and Dutch forces), Operation Mountain Thrust was launched in May 2006 to counter renewed Taliban insurgency.

Since January 2006, the NATO International Security Assistance Force undertook combat duties from Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan, the NATO force chiefly made up of British, Canadian and Dutch forces (and some smaller contributions from Denmark, Romania and Estonia and air support from Norway as well as air and artillery support from the U.S.) (see the article Coalition combat operations in Afghanistan in 2006). The United States military also conducts military operations separate from NATO as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in other parts of Afghanistan, in areas such as Kandahar, Bagram, and Kabul (including Camp Eggers and Camp Phoenix.)

International support

The United States was supported by several nations during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan in 2001–2003 and in subsequent coalition operations directly or indirectly in support of OEF. See the article Afghanistan War order of battle for the current disposition of coalition forces in Afghanistan.


The U.S.-led coalition initially removed the Taliban from power and seriously crippled al-Qaeda and associated militants in Afghanistan. However, since the 2001 invasion success in quelling the Taliban insurgency has been mixed. Many believe the Taliban cannot be defeated as long as it has sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan[citation needed] and that Operation Enduring Freedom has transformed into a continuing full-fledged war with no end in sight.

On 9 October 2004, Afghanistan elected Hamid Karzai president in its first direct elections. The following year, Afghans conducted the Afghan parliamentary election, 2005 on 18 September. Since the invasion, hundreds of schools and mosques have been constructed, millions of dollars in aid have been distributed, and the occurrence of violence has been reduced.

While military forces interdict insurgents and assure security, Provincial reconstruction teams are tasked with infrastructure building, such as constructing roads and bridges, assisting during floods, and providing food and water to refugees. Many warlords have participated in an allegiance program, recognizing the legitimacy of the government of Afghanistan, and surrendering their soldiers and weapons; however, subsequent actions have led to questions about their true loyalties.

The Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Border Police are being trained to assume the task of securing their nation.


AFP, reporting on a news story in the Sunday, 3 April 2004, issue of The New Yorker,[23] wrote that retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, "who served in the Army Special Forces for more than 20 years, ... commissioned by The Pentagon to examine the war in Afghanistan concluded the conflict created conditions that have given 'warlordism, banditry and opium production a new lease on life' ...."

The conduct of U.S. forces was criticised in a report entitled Enduring Freedom - Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan by U.S.-based human rights group, Human Rights Watch in 2004. Some Pakistani scholars, such as Masood Ashraf Raja, editor of Pakistaniaat, have also provided a more specific form of criticism that relates to the consequences of war on terror on the region.[24]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines (OEF-P)

Abu Sayyaf Group

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Al Harakat Al Islamiyya, is deemed a "foreign terrorist organization" by the United States government. Specifically, it is an Islamist separatist group based in and around the southern islands of the Republic of the Philippines, primarily Jolo, Basilan, and Mindanao.

Since inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion in their fight for an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. Its claimed overarching goal is to create a Pan-Islamic superstate across the Malay portions of Southeast Asia, spanning, from east to west, the large island of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago (Basilan and Jolo islands), the large island of Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia), the South China Sea, and the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar).

Jemaah Islamiyah

Jemaah Islamiyah is a militant Islamic terrorist organization dedicated to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy in Southeast Asia, in particular Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, the south of Thailand and the Philippines.

Financial links between Jemaah Islamiyah and other terrorist groups, such as Abu Sayyaf and al-Qaeda, have been found to exist.[25] Jemaah Islamiyah means "Islamic Group" or "Islamic Community" and is often abbreviated JI.

Jemaah Islamiyah is thought to have killed hundreds of civilians. Also, it is suspected of carrying out the Bali car bombing on 12 October 2002, in which suicide bombers attacked a nightclub killing 202 people and wounding many more. Most of the casualties were Australian tourists. After this attack, the U.S. State Department designated Jemaah Islamiyah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Jemaah Islamiyah is also suspected of carrying out the Zamboanga bombings, the Metro Manila bombings, the 2004 Australian embassy bombing and the 2005 Bali terrorist bombing.

U.S. action

In January 2002, 1,200 members of United States Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) were deployed to the Philippines to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in uprooting al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf. The members of SOCPAC were assigned to assist in military operations against the terrorist forces as well as humanitarian operations for the island of Basilan, where most of the conflict was expected to take place.

The United States Special Forces (SF) unit trained and equipped special forces and scout rangers of the AFP, creating the Light Reaction Company (LRC). The LRC and elements of SOCPAC deployed to Basilan on completion of their training. The stated goals of the deployment were denying the ASG sanctuary, surveiling, controlling, and denying ASG routes, surveiling supporting villages and key personnel, conducting local training to overcome AFP weaknesses and sustain AFP strengths, supporting operations by the AFP "strike force" (LRC) in the area of responsibility (AOR), conducting and supporting civil affairs operations in the AOR.[26]


The desired result was for the AFP to gain sufficient capability to locate and destroy the ASG, to recover hostages and to enhance the legitimacy of the Philippine government. Much of the operation was a success: the ASG was driven from Basilan and one U.S. hostage was recovered.[26] The Abu Sayyaf Group's ranks, which once counted more than 800 members, was reduced to less than 100. The humanitarian portion of the operation, Operation Smiles, created 14 schools, 7 clinics, 3 hospitals and provided medical care to over 18,000 residents of Basilan. Humanitarian groups were able to continue their work without fear of further kidnappings and terrorists attacks by the Abu Sayyaf Group.[27][28]

Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)

Unlike other operations contained in Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF-HOA does not have a specific terrorist organization as a target. OEF-HOA instead focuses its efforts to disrupt and detect terrorist activities in the region and to work with host nations to deny the reemergence of terrorist cells and activities. Operations began in mid-2002 at Camp Lemonier by a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) augmented by support forces from Fort Stewart, Fort Hood, and Fort Story. In October 2002, the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was established at Djibouti at Camp Lemonier, taking over responsibilities from the CJSOTF. CJTF-HOA comprised approximately 2,000 personnel including U.S. military and Special Operations Forces (SOF), and coalition force members, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150). The coalition force consists of ships from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Pakistan, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The primary goal of the coalition forces is to monitor, inspect, board and stop suspected shipments from entering the Horn of Africa region.

CJTF-HOA has devoted the majority of its efforts to train selected armed forces units of the countries of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tactics. Humanitarian efforts conducted by CJTF-HOA include the rebuilding of schools and medical clinics, as well as providing medical services to those countries whose forces are being trained. The program expands as part of the Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Initiative as CJTF personnel also assist in training the forces of Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.[29]

U.S. action

Anti-piracy operations were undertaken by the coalition throughout 2006 with a battle fought in March when U.S. vessels were attacked by pirates. In January 2007, during the war in Somalia, an AC-130 airstrike was conducted against al-Qaeda members embedded with forces of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) operating in southern Somalia near Ras Kamboni. U.S. naval forces, including the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, were positioned off the coast of Somalia to provide support and to prevent any al-Qaeda forces escaping by sea. Actions against pirates also occurred in June and October 2007 with varying amounts of success.

Military decorations

Since 2002, the United States military has created military awards and decorations related to Operation Enduring Freedom:

NATO also created a military decoration related to Operation Enduring Freedom:

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Operation Enduring Freedom , Afghanistan". Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  3. Brown, Derek (27 September 2001). "Attack and Aftermath: a glossary of terms, in". The Guardian. UK.,,559312,00.html. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Infinite Justice, out – Enduring Freedom, in". BBC News. 25 September 2001. 
  5. "Helping Georgia?". Boston University Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy. March–April 2002. Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
  6. "Text: Bush Announces Start of a "War on Terror"". 20 September 2001. 
  7. "Text: President Bush Announces Military Strikes in Afghanistan". 7 October 2001. 
  8. "Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan". 
  9. Fargo, ADM Tom (10 February 2003). "PASOC 2003 Conference – Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort". Speeches and Transcripts. U.S. Pacific Command. [dead link]
  10. "Operation Smiles" (PDF). U.S. Pacific Command. [dead link]
  12. "Taliban publicly execute murderer, amputate two robbers". 14 August 1998. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  13. "The Afghan Taliban: LIke It or Not, It Occupies Two-Thirds of Afghanistan and Shows No Sign of Weakening". Retrieved 27 March 2011. [dead link]
  14. "Filmed by RAWA: Taliban publicly execute an Afghan woman". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  15. [1][dead link]
  17. "Transcript of President Bush's address – CNN". CNN. 21 September 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  18. "Taliban Won't Turn Over Bin Laden". CBS News. 21 September 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  19. "Briefing 05: The Smoking Gun". 8 October 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  20. "U.S. rejects Taliban offer to try bin Laden". CNN. 7 October 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  21. "Bush to Taliban: 'Time is running out'". CNN. 7 October 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2011. [dead link]
  22. "Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over". Guardian. UK. 14 October 2001.,1361,573975,00.html. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  23. [2][dead link]
  24. * "The Rhetoric of Democracy and War on Terror: The Case of Pakistan.". 2009. pp. 60–65. 
  25. "Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 Colonel David S. Maxwell. "The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection". Retrieved 27 March 2011. [dead link]
  27. [3][dead link]
  28. [4][dead link]
  29. [5][dead link]

Further reading

External links

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