GWOT Updates – March

GWOT events added or updated:

2 March
2002 – U.S. and Afghan forces launched an offensive, Operation Anaconda, on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces entrenched in the mountains of Shahi-Kot southeast of Gardez. The Mujahideen forces, who used small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars, were entrenched into caves and bunkers in the hillsides at an altitude that was largely above 10,000 feet (3,000 m). They used “hit and run” tactics, opening fire on the U.S. and Afghan forces and then retreating back into their caves and bunkers to weather the return fire and persistent U.S. bombing raids. To compound the situation for the coalition troops, U.S. commanders initially underestimated the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces as a last isolated pocket numbering fewer than 200. It turned out that the guerrillas numbered between 1,000–5,000 according to some estimates and that they were receiving reinforcements.

4 March
2007 – At least 12 civilians were killed and 33 were injured by U.S. Marines in Shinwar district in Nangrahar province of Afghanistan as the Americans reacted to a bomb ambush. The event has become known as the Shinwar Massacre. The 120 member Marine unit responsible for the attack was asked to leave the country because the incident damaged the unit’s relations with the local Afghan population.

17 March
2005 – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Munro (WHEC 724), working with HMS Invincible and HMS Nottingham in the Gulf of Aden, intercepted a hijacked vessel at around noon. The interception was ordered after Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT) received telephone reports from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, concerning the hi-jacking of the Thai-flagged fishing boat Sirichai Nava 12 by three Somalis on the evening of 16 March, as well as a fax indicating that the hi-jackers demanded U.S. $800,000 in ransom for the vessel’s crew. Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 tasked the Invincible, destroyer Nottingham and Munro to investigate the situation. A Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team from Munro boarded Sirichai Nava, while a boarding team from Nottingham went onto a second fishing vessel, Ekhwat Patana, which was with the Thai vessel. Munro’s boarding team detained the Somalis without incident. One of the crew members of the Thai vessel had a minor flesh wound, which was treated by the Munro boarding team. The Coast Guardsmen also discovered four automatic weapons in the pilothouse, expended ammunition shells on the deck of the vessel, as well as ammunition on the detained suspects. The three suspects were transferred to Munro. The Munro was assigned to CTF 150, which is the Coalition maritime task force conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the vicinity of the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

18 March
2006 – The USS Cape St. George, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser and the USS Gonzalez, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, engaged pirate vessels after receiving fire from them.

20 March
2003 – (9:34 p.m., 19 March EST) the surprise military invasion of Iraq began. There was no declaration of war. The invasion of Iraq, led by U.S. army General Tommy Franks, began under the codename “Operation Iraqi Liberation”, later renamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the UK codename Operation Telic, and the Australian codename Operation Falconer. Coalition forces also cooperated with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north. Approximately forty other governments, the “U.S.-led coalition against Iraq,” participated by providing troops, equipment, services, security, and special forces, with 248,000 soldiers from the United States, 45,000 British soldiers, 2,000 Australian soldiers and 194 Polish soldiers from Special Forces unit GROM sent to Kuwait for the invasion. The invasion force was also supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upwards of 70,000. According to General Tommy Franks, the objectives of the invasion were, “First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein. Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country. Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks. Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction. Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens. Seventh, to secure Iraq’s oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people. And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.”

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