Operation Mongoose (2003)

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Operation Mongoose (2003)
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present) (Operation Enduring Freedom)
During-operation-mongoose-a-us-army-usa-ah64a-apache-attack-helicopter-is-called-730777-1600.jpg Border
Top: AH-64 Apache attack helicopter called in to destroy a suspected Taliban weapons cache
Bottom: Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division on a search and destroy mission in the Adi Ghar Mountains
Date27[1] or 28[2] January – 10 or 11 February 2003 (possibly longer) (two weeks)[3]

ISAF/Afghan victory

  • Over 75 caves cleared

 United States
and more...

Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin
Commanders and leaders
Lt. Col. Charlie Flynn Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Units involved

United States United States Armed Forces
Special Forces
82nd Airborne Division

  • 307th Engineer Battalion

504th Infantry Regiment

  • 2nd Battalion 505th Infantry Regiment

United States Air Force US Air Force

Norway RNoAF[4][5]
Insurgent militias
  300-350 soldiers[6][7]
Afghanistan Militia fighters
United States B-1 bombers
AC-130 Spectre gunships
AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
CH-47 Chinook helicopters
Norway F-16s[8]
80 fighters (coalition estimate)[9][10]
Casualties and losses
None 22 killed, 13 captured (per coalition)[11]
18 reported killed during the Battle in the Adi Ghar Mountains[12][9]

Operation Mongoose was an American-led two week cave clearing operation in the Adi Ghar Mountains near the town of Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province. Launched on the 28 January 2003, over 350 US and coalition soldiers along with Afghan militia fighters, assisted by Apache helicopters and Norwegian F-16 fighter jets[7] participated with the objective of searching through and destroying caves used by Hezb-e Islami, Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.[3][8][7] By the end of the operation, over 75 caves had been cleared.

Battle in the Adi Ghar Mountains[edit]

On the 27 January, a patrol of US Special Forces accompanied by Afghan militia fighters came under small arms fire while clearing a compound approximately 13 kilometers North of Spin Boldak at 11:00 am. The US and Afghan forces returned fire, after the small skirmish, one enemy was dead, another wounded, and a third was captured. After interrogating, the captured fighter claimed that 80 fighters were hiding in the Adi Ghar Mountains, wanting to verify these claims, the US Special Forces dispatched two Apache helicopters to the area, taking them 26 minutes to reach the area, upon receiving fire the Apaches called for assistance from B-1B bombers, AC-130 Spectre gunships and Norwegian F-16s, making it the first time the Norwegian Air Force had seen combat since World War II.[9] On the ground, a joint force of at least 350, including US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces, alongside coalition and Afghan militia troops were called to the area to participate in the operation. The fighting lasted into the next day with the battle ending about 12 hours after the initial engagement. US and Norwegian aircraft dropped 19 2000 pound bombs and two guided 500 pound bombs.[13][9] At least 18 fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were reported killed with no coalition casualties, the battle was described as the largest since Operation Anaconda.[5][14][12]


  1. ^ "Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party)". Global Security. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ Jim Garamone (5 February 2003). "Cave-Clearing Ops Proceed in Spin Boldak Area". American Forces Press Service. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Vanessa Gezari. "U.S. forces gain uneasy victory at Afghan caves". Chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Forvirrende om Operation Mongoose". Klassekampen.no. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Informer's Tip Leads to Afghan Mountain Battle". Associated Press. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  6. ^ "DefenseLINK News: 12 Afghans Surrender After Firefight". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Defense.gov News Article: Cave-Clearing Ops Proceed in Spin Boldak Area". Archive.defense.gov. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Operation Enduring Freedom : 2002 - 2005" (PDF). History.army.nil. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d McCarthy, Rory (29 January 2003). "US soldiers attack mountain hideout in biggest battle for a year". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Operation Mongoose: Cave Clearing Taliban Strongholds • Killing Time". Hk94.com. 26 February 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-02. Retrieved 2019-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b "U.S. forces searching Afghan caves". Upi.com. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  13. ^ "CNN.com - Allies scour Afghan caves after fierce battle - Jan. 29, 2003". Cnn.com. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Fierce battle rages in Afghanistan". News.bbc.co.uk. 28 January 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2019.