Students Grapple With the Costs of War—Operation Anaconda Simulation

Washington D.C. – Monday, May 14th CCU students gathered on the top floor of the American Enterprise Institute. The room could almost be mistaken for a combat command room thanks to AEI scholars leading students into a military simulation of the March 2002 Operation Anaconda during the Afghanistan war. The operation lasted several days and resulted in a Coalition victory with nearly 100 casualties and 500-800 Taliban killed.

Students were tasked with roll playing key persons in the U.S. attack. At the end of the simulation students were asked a very straightforward question “was this mission a success?” The majority of students seemed to think that the mission was not a success due to confusion and the loss of U.S. soldiers in battle. Now it is clear that, having gone through the simulation, aspects of the operation were not handled properly and that mistakes were made; but is it unreasonable for us to look at a battle where fifteen Coalition lives were lost en route to disbanding the largest gathering of Taliban and killing 500-800 enemy fighters? I think so.

We are at a strange time. With great advancements in technology we are made to think that anything is possible and in an arena where human lives are on the line we are hesitant to accept any loss. But this is still war and the men who fight for this country believe that there are certain things worth dying for. I believe we all should take such a noble stance and honor their sacrifices and acknowledge the great victory of this battle. Of course I pray that no life is needlessly lost, but I will not look on this battle as a loss.

For the information given to students by AEI click here.

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