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Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Wanat final-report 1. W36W36 The views expressed in this CSI Press publication are those of the author s and not necessarily those of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense. On that day, the men of Company C, 2d Battalion, d Parachute Infantry Regiment, endured four hours of intense close quarters combat and mounting casualties. The contingent of 49 United States and 24 Afghan National Army Soldiers valiantly defended their small outpost against a coordinated attack by a determined insurgent force armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

Despite the initial advantage of tactical surprise and numerical superiority, it was the insurgents who ultimately broke contact and withdrew from Combat Outpost Kahler.

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Army historians recognized the need to better understand the Battle of Wanat and ensure those who followed learned from the experiences of the courageous Soldiers who defended their outpost with such tenacity. As initial reports from the battle were received, the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas began to prepare a historical analysis of the circumstances of the Battle of Wanat, launching an exhaustive research effort that produced a comprehensive and compelling example of contemporary history.

This study offers an objective narrative of the events surrounding the Battle of Wanat. It does not seek to draw final conclusions or to second guess decisions made before or during the heat of battle. Rather, it is an implement of learning, allowing the reader to see the events of that day through the eyes of the leaders and Soldiers of Task Force Rock. It is meant to provide context to the chaos and complexity of modern conflict, and to help the reader better understand and appreciate the nature of operations in an era of persistent conflict. Finally, this study serves to honor and preserve the memories of the nine brave men who gave their lives at Combat Outpost Kahler.

Sean B. Contract historian Matt Matthews proposed the topic, conceptualized the study, initiated the research plan, and executed a number of key oral interviews with participants. When Mr. Matthews transferred to a different project, contract historian Douglas Cubbison took up the Wanat case study. After performing additional research and oral interviews, Cubbison created a working paper upon which later revisions could build.

Contract historian Gary Linhart and contract technician Dale Cordes contributed several visual representations of the terrain. Research historian John McGrath of the Combat Studies Institute served as the primary researcher and writer on the final manuscript, revising both text and citations, creating the final graphics, and incorporating new information derived from the documentary record of more recent inquiries.

William G. Robertson, Director of the Combat Studies Institute, provided overall guidance and quality control to the manuscript development process. Editor Carl Fischer worked diligently to see the final manuscript through the editing, layout and publication process. CSI is indebted to the many officers and Soldiers who sat for interviews and contributed documents in support of this study. In preparing this study, the staff at CSI have been constantly reminded of the courage and sacrifice of all those who have served in Afghanistan in difficult circumstances.

These thoughts have guided our work in producing what we hope is both a testament to the valor of those who served and a vehicle for learning in the future. Historic and Campaign Background of the Waygal Valley The Fight at Wanat, 13 July The Waygal Valley Theater Organization, Afghanistan AO Bayonet, July COP Bella Wanat, Proposed COP COP Kahler, 13 July COP Kahler: Looking northwest OP Topside, 13 July The Wanat Garrison, 13 July The Course of the Fight OP Topside from the east following the engagement The Waygal Valley.

The people who have lived in what is today Afghanistan have seen a succession of foreign and domestic rulers and conquerors.


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  4. The first Western invader to enter the region was Alexander the Great who overthrew the previous rulers of the Afghanistan region, the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Alexander continued east from Persia, entering the area from the southeast in BC and operating throughout the region for three years. During the next campaigning season, Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush range through the Khawak Pass and conquered the Persian province of Bactria, establishing a Macedonian colony there and marrying Roxana, the daughter of a local noble. The Macedonian then re-crossed the Hindu Kush in BC, and, with part of his army, followed the Kabul River Valley to the Konar River Valley where he came into conflict with local fighters who were probably the ancestors of the modern Nuristanis.

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    Alexander defeated these people but was wounded in the shoulder in the process. He then turned east, crossed through the Nawa Pass into what today is Pakistan and rejoined the rest of his army in the Indus River Valley. There he fought his next series of battles. The region is spectacularly rugged and divided into numerous small river valleys separated by steep mountain ridges, many in excess of 10, feet. The Waygal Valley is located primarily in Nuristan Province but the The provincial boundary which also marks the ethnic boundary between Nuristanis to the north and Safi Pashtuns to the south is located one half mile south of Wanat.

    All of the valleys of Nuristan and Konar, to include the Waygal Valley, are rocky, deep, narrow, and steep-sided, most of them are classic examples of geological V-shaped valleys. This is one of the most topographically forbidding operating environments in the world. Individual English explorers sometimes penetrated into the area.

    In , after the demarcation of the Durand Line solidified the political borders of his realm, the Afghan Amir Abdur Rahman Khan moved into Kafiristan and subdued the population. As a price for his future protection, he required the Kafiristanis to accept Islam and rechristened them Nuristanis, as they had seen the light of Islam, nur being the Arabic word for light.

    This was part of the process by which Abdur Rahman, a grandson of renowned Afghan leader Dost Muhammad, who ruled in Kabul for 21 years, introduced a stable central government to Afghanistan for the first time in its history. Even before the Soviet intervention, Konar had been the scene of several early rebellions against the Marxist forces. After two successful early offensives along the Pech Valley in the spring of , the Soviets restricted their operations in Konar and eastern Nuristan to the placing of garrisons along the Konar River at major population centers.

    Soviet successes and brutality in the Pech and Waygal region were such that many mujahedeen families and most of the leadership fled to Pakistan, not to return until the later years of the Soviet war. With that area pacified, most significant heavy fighting was centered along the corridor of the Konar River connecting Jalalabad to Asadabad and Barikowt on the Pakistani border.

    The Soviets focused on restricting the flow of anti Soviet insurgents and their arms and supplies from Pakistan intoAfghanistan through the Konar Valley. The mujahedeen During this period, Nuristan and Konar saw other fighting between Communist proxies, local landowners and communities, and organized criminal organizations attempting to gain control of the lucrative Kamdesh timber and gemstone interests within the region. The Nuristanis were also able to play the Taliban off against the Northern Alliance.

    Neither side attempted to lay a heavy hand on the region out of fear of driving the local population into the arms of its enemies. Central government influence within theWaygalValley has historically been limited although this has recently been changing. Similar to other remote areas, there was no permanent governmental administrative presence in the Waygal Valley until the post Soviet era when a separate Nuristan Province was established and the Waygal Valley became designated as a district within that province.

    Eventually a district center was established at Wanat which had been a traditional meeting place for the Waygal Valley Nuristanis and the rough road linking the Pech Valley to Wanat was improved sufficiently to allow motor vehicles to reach the administrative center for the first time.

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    Because of the rugged terrain and steep ridgelines throughout northeastern Afghanistan, the majority of the communities are isolated and relationships between and within the various ethnic groups are extremely complex. The Safi Pashtuns and Nuristanis speak distinctive languages and there are particular dialects within these languages. The Nuristanis especially have a large number of dialects, some of which are so divergent as to constitute separate languages.

    For centuries, the Nuristanis practiced their own polytheistic religion in a region otherwise dominated by followers of Islam. As previously mentioned, this cultural distinctiveness changed only in the late nineteenth century when Nuristan finally embraced Islam at the forcible demand of the Afghan ruler Abdur Rahman.

    Nuristan was only established as an independent province in Although the Kalasha speak their own distinctive language, the people of the four southernmost villages further identify themselves as Chimi-nishey, while the dwellers of the northern villages call themselves Wai. The Nuristani population of the Waygal Valley also differentiates itself between Amursh- kara and Kila-kara. This refers to the type of cheese they make.

    This is not the minor point that it appears. The type of cheese produced significantly influences how a family organizes its pastoral and dairy activities and this, in turn, reflects the differences between the amount and quality of summer pastures that the people of the northern half of the valley possess compared to the southern half of the valley. Such complicated distinctions validate the convoluted human terrain of the region.

    It must be noted that even within the same ethnic group, tensions of various types and severity abound between adjacent villages, the majority of whose families are often related. Also, be open to see some sort of rivalry between the inhabitants of different villages in the valley. You might hear one thing from one village and may hear completely the opposite from another village.

    It has been there as long as Nuristan existed. Vast tracts of trackless mountainous terrain surround their villages. These tracts served as effective buffer zones for their communities and could only be exploited by well armed herders who could take their animals there under protection. The Nuristanis controlled the highlands along with the attendant forests, pastures, gem-rich mountains, and water for irrigation that can turn a semi arid land into valuable agricultural fields. After Abdur Rahman imposed peace on the region, the Nuristani population gingerly moved into these buffer areas on the periphery of their settlements.

    They constructed irrigation systems and agricultural terraces and built rudimentary shelters to use while tending their fields. Given population growth and sustained security, over time these rudimentary shelters were gradually improved and became permanent hamlets.

    To the south, the Safi Pashtuns had expanded across the lowlands of the Pech and Konar Valleys in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at the expense of the previous Dardic speaking inhabitants. The Safis were unable to expand Accordingly, the lower Waygal Valley became a buffer zone between the Safis and the Nuristanis that saw periods of both cooperation and confrontation.

    In the early twentieth century when the central Afghan Government unilaterally settled a group of non- Safi Pashtuns from the eastern frontier area of Konar onto traditionally Nuristani land on the west side of the Waygal Valley, the Safi Pashtuns and the Kalasha Nuristanis cooperated to eject the newcomers. The area remains Nuristani to the present day. In when the Pech Safi Pashtuns revolted against the Afghan Government, the central government successfully played the Nuristanis off against the Safis. However, in the jihadagainsttheMarxistsandSoviets,bothgroupscooperatedsuccessfully.

    Nevertheless considerable animosity exists within the valley and localized struggles both between the two ethnic groups and among several Nuristani communities are common today.

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    Waygal Village, for example, the northernmost and largest population concentration in the valley, actually is comprised of two different corporate communities, Beremdesh and Waremdesh. Conflicts, usually over resources such as pasture, forests, or water, were frequent between and within the corporate communities of the Waygal Valley and elsewhere in Nuristan.

    The potential for such conflicts between these distinct corporate communities was one reason why the Nuristanis had an extremely strong exogamy rule.

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    Nuristani community leaders recognized the need to create at least some bonds between other communities to have social and cultural links to resolve conflicts that might arise, to engage in trade between craftsmen who specialized in products in different communities, and to call on one another for mutual assistance when necessary. Within Nuristan, efforts to act in unity above the level of the corporate community have proven to be difficult and fragile.

    Some of the current conflict in the region can be traced to the recent dissipation of solidarity within the corporate communities. The homes are constructed with wooden supports and bracketed in such a manner that they are generally resistant to the frequent earthquakes that plague the region. Families tend to use their first floor for storage and reside on the second floor. Walkways, terraces, and ladders connect families and neighborhoods.

    Access to the ground or first floor is usually restricted and the ladders that connect residences can be readily removed to enhance security.