What is Operation Enduring Freedom?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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Operation Enduring Freedom is an American-led combat operation which supports the Global War on Terror (GWOT) active in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and parts of Africa. People often use “Operation Enduring Freedom” just to describe American combat operations in Afghanistan. Together with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the operation is intended to bring stability to Afghanistan and to prevent the emergence of terrorist cells in the region.

Combat operations in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001, in the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States which were believed to have originated from Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization active in Afghanistan. Under the Bush Doctrine, the United States indicated that it would aggressively pursue nations which harbored terrorists or allowed terrorist cells to exist, a departure from traditional anti-terrorism policies, which usually distinguished between terrorists and the governments which harbored them. Arguing that Afghanistan and its ruling Taliban regime were contributing directly to terrorism, the United States launched an air assault and ground invasion with the support of a coalition of nations.


The primary goal of Operation Enduring Freedom was to capture Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist believed to be responsible for the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks which felled the World Trade Center and caused significant damage to the Pentagon. In this goal, the operation was unsuccessful, but the American-led coalition of forces did manage to overthrow the Taliban and temporarily stabilize the country. Unfortunately, the 2003 invasion of Iraq led the United States to pull troops away from Afghanistan, resulting in an uptick in insurgency in the region.

In addition to combating terrorism, troops associated with Operation Enduring Freedom also provided training to Afghan military and police forces, with the goal of passing the nation's security over to its people. Troops also participated in the war on drugs in Afghanistan, attempting to control the cultivation of opium poppies and the sale of opium and its derivatives. In 2006, NATO began to assume control of combat operations in Iraq, with the United States providing a huge percentage of total forces in the area.

The War in Afghanistan attracted a great deal of international criticism from a variety of perspectives. One of the largest problems faced by the architects of Operation Enduring Freedom was the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Taliban. The concern of organizers was that by leaving Iraq, the coalition forces would leave the country vulnerable to invasion by neighboring countries, or inadvertently contribute to the emergence of a dictatorship. As a result, troops were forced to stay in Afghanistan to provide support while the ISAF worked to create a secure and stable state.


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Post 4

So the biggest concern isn't the fact that our American government refuses to answer questions about September eleventh or that a local building mysteriously went down. The big concern is instead how many innocent lives can the government kill before everyone finds out what the questions are and the fact that they were never answered. Too many inconsistencies.

Post 3

The original name of OEF was Operation Infinite Justice. The name was changed after a few days because of Islamic sensitivities. Only Allah can be infinite. @softener: I don't think the name was so much that freedom was to be endured, as much as that freedom would endure in the face of adversity.

Post 2

I too was kind of put off by the name of this - as you put it @FootballKing - significant military action, which is what lead me to this page. I don't quite understand the idea that freedom is something to be "endured".

I mean no disrespect to soldiers and am very much open to discussion about this, but it seems to me like the people we trusted lied to us and a lot of people died because of it.

Post 1

I think that the names of significant military action such as Operation Enduring Freedom is very misleading and purposely used by our military forces to impose a social though process on the actual operation. Names like this give the glory of freedom a tainted value because of what they really mean. It means war, and war means death and destruction for those effected. The sad part is that so many people have jumped at the chance to be apart of such wide sweeping and massive military action such as this.

When we use deceitful names that try and misrepresent what the actual action of the operation is, we are not only lying to our enemies, we are lying to

ourselves. To put a good label onto a bad principle is not helping the overall cause of creating peace in our world. It saddens me to think that a simple name could entice young men and women to sign up for military action that may or may not suit their individual moral beliefs.

I realize that war and the nasty effects of it are sometime necessary in our evil world but I really do think that we need to keep some sort of reality as to what it is that we are doing. Only when we actually represent our actions just as they are can we properly judge them for their merit and not on the label they are given. This is an imperative change that we must make if we are ever to achieve world peace.

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