Magazine article VFW Magazine

Battle of Shahi Kot Valley

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Battle of Shahi Kot Valley

Article excerpt


In the largest U.S. light infantry battle in years, GIs took the terrorists head on. But eight Americans were killed in action.

Waged from March 1-16, Operation Anaconda pitted three U.S. infantry battalions against an undetermined number of al Qaeda terrorists in the notorious Shahi Kot Valley near Gardez, Afghanistan.

In the fiercest fighting yet in the war on terrorism, more than 1,700 soldiers of the 1st Bn., 87th Inf Regt., 10th Mt. Div. and the ist and 2nd battalions of the 187th Inf. Regt., 101st Airborne Div. battled at altitudes of 9,000 feet. Also engaged was an assortment of U.S. special operations troops, as well as 100 members of the Australian Special Air Service (SAS).

The Shahi Kot Valley-meaning "The Place of the King"-is an ancient redoubt for Afghan guerrillas on the run. It contained, for the Americans, two objectives tagged Remington and Ginger. All but the seventh landing zone in the valley was secured smoothly.

Objective Ginger proved a tough nut to crack. Assigned to C Co., Ist Bn., 87th Reg., securing this bit of high ground turned into an 18-hour ordeal. The 2nd Platoon nicknamed one of its more imposing features "Hell's Halfpipe.'

In the end, heavy fire-including an intense mortar barrage-forced the nighttime evacuation of C Company. The unit escaped with 28 of its 86 men wounded, but none were killed.

Such good fortune did not befall helicopter-borne special operations troops inserted east of Objective Ginger. A rocketpropelled grenade hit one helicopter; losing a SEAL team member in the process. The al Qaeda quickly executed him.

When a rescue/recovery team was inserted into the hot landing zone, it was ambushed. The team withstood repeated assaults for 12 hours and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. Six more Americans, however, were KIA: three Rangers, an Air Force combat controller and a pararescueman and an Army 160th aviator. …

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