Talk:Battle of Wanat

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Taliban casualties[edit]

The Taliban casualty figure needs to be updated. A later AP story says "Attack helicopters swooped over the battlefield, and in hours of fighting dozens of insurgents were killed and about 40 were wounded, the NATO official said." An Afghan government statement quoted by AFP says 40 were killed. Gaintes (talk) 20:11, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

NATO not coalition[edit]

This should be reworded as a NATO installation, operatoin, and troop entourage that happened to have American troops killed. (talk) 04:07, 16 July 2008 (UTC)


Hows it indecisive when more of one side dies than the other and is pushed out and mopped up? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:16, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

the death toll doesn't matter. What matters is the enormous propaganda victory by the Taliban by breaching a US base. Summed up with their subsequent retreat means indecisive --TheFEARgod (Ч) 11:57, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

This was actually a tactical victory for NATO(the US and its allies), but considering the U.S. troops withdrew from the area directly afterward it should allso be considred a strategic victory for the taliban. They suceeded in making the U.S. make a tactical withdraw{an ordely retreat} from the area, and now control the town(One more parade (talk) 16:10, 16 July 2008 (UTC)).

A tactical victory would be one where there is no substantial long term gains achieved by either side, or losses or gains out weigh that of your opponent. It could be argued successfully that there were/are no long term gains here for either side, making it tactically inconclusive. Both sides (from the numbers provided in the article) suffered approximately a 40% casualty rate. Strategically, neither side, with the loss of 9/4 and 40+ fighters, has impaired the ability of the other to continue fighting, nor has long term advantage been achieved by either side in this encounter, nor has access to critical ground been denied to either side. This incident was inconclusive militarilyCillmore (talk) 17:11, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

It seem it's more of a NATO victory since the attackers were beat back and driven out of the town.-- (talk) 18:10, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the result "Reinforcement of Base" is weaselish, if US forces withdrew 3 days later, and the outpost is presumably abandoned/in militiant hands, it looks like a defeat to me.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:17, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

I am going to reword it, but the base isn't abandoned, but was reinforced the following day and they were chasing the surviving taliban that escaped. if you look at the "related" video at one of the cited websites [1], you will see that. Here is the direct link [2], which is far from a victory for the taliban. --Hourick (talk) 18:27, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
I don't think your assessment of that video is conclusively accurate. Jeff Carr (talk) 15:46, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

It seems that this skirmish was indecisive for everyone all around, although it makes more sense to call it a tactical NATO win and a strategic Taliban victory. NATO forces held the position and the Taliban briefly withdrew, meaning that NATO scored a tactical win. NATO withdrawal later on makes it a Taliban strategic victory. The Taliban lost the battle but won the strategic objective anyway. I'm also sensing some disagreements along ideological divides over this article, which I hope we can avoid in what is supposed to be an objective account of the incident.Krg8501 (talk) 18:34, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Well, I'm being totally neutral on the matter. When I put up "reinforced" note I didn't say "victory" for either side as I thought that wouldn't be appropriate. Which I believe shows that I'm being quite neutral on this matter. Since we're getting conflicting reports on whether or not this base is still in use, perhaps we should wait until more sources confirm it one way or another. --Hourick (talk) 18:46, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

In determining the strategic importance of the battle a much larger assessment of the long term gain or loss by either side must be determined. It is not appropriate at this time to (with finality) assess the strategic implications of the encounter and to assign a "victor".Cillmore (talk) 18:55, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

I suggest "undetermined" for now as far as outcome goes. This may not be the last time we might be hearing of this location. --Hourick (talk) 19:29, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Aren't the objectives of the two sides quite clear? The Americans wanted to set up a base and establish control over the area. The Taliban wanted to removed the fledgling base and establish their control over the area. The American objective has failed (i.e. they withdrew) and the Taliban's objective was achieved. Seems quite simple to me. Casualties are irrelevent if the objectives are accomplished. Just ask the Russians on the Western Front. Plasticup T/C 12:11, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

This is only your conclusion and characterization, echoing what you've heard or read, which has omitted the 173rd's "side of the story", i.e. its own description of the platoon's mission and what it was trying to accomplish. Now that it has, the story is quite different in many ways from what was first described and implied. The Americans set up a temporary base, not to control the area, but to function just as it did: a temporary defensive position for unit security while they were in the area. At most "undetermined" is appropriate.--Reedmalloy (talk) 06:13, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

this is a response to the first comment in this section, are you aware that the allies suffered more casulties than the axis during WW2, and the allies won? death toll is totally irrelevant to victory —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:35, 20 July 2008 (UTC)


This incident isn't being referred to as the "Battle of Wanat" on any news sources I've encountered. Although the precise definition of a battle is difficult to determine, an exchange that counts less than 200 troops on either side sounds less like a "battle" and more like a "skirmish" or a "raid". Operation Anaconda and the Battle of Fallujah seem more like conflicts that would typically be called battles. The incident at Wanat sounds a lot more like one of the countless raids, ambushes, and suicide bombings frequently heard from Afghanistan and Iraq. Admittedly the intensity of the fight and its ambitious objective are worth of note, but calling it a battle rings of hyperbole.Krg8501 (talk) 18:42, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

I'm in overall agreement. This is along the lines of Operation Red Wing in its scope. Reading the various sources, I never heard the what the operational name was or I would suggest that THAT would be included in the name like, "The Skirmish of 'operation' whatever... --Hourick (talk) 18:50, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

An earlier report is now being cited for initial strength and casualty calculations. Afghan sources cite 400-500 militants. We should return to 200 and 40.Cillmore (talk) 19:56, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

I change my mind. I would like to wait until more info is available.Cillmore (talk) 20:04, 16 July 2008 (UTC) The number of people involved is not what makes a battle, a battle. Two military units engaged is what makes a battle there are numerous incidents througout history where even smaller engagements have been considered to be battles for example the First Battle of the Stronghold during the Modoc War. I listed this article under Battle of Wanat because i could not find a name for it, names of battles are not created instantaniously instead they are created by the people who write about them including us. When the Iraq War began it was called many different things, The Second Persian Gulf War... ect. If it would be more appropriate, move it to a page called Battle at Wanat if it makes any difference i think the title fits the article calling it anything else just sounds silly. XavierGreen First Battle of the Stronghold

My focus isn't on the number of combatants involved which, I readily admit, is largely arbitrary when defining a "battle". I'm more concerned about the military nature of the incident, which remains unclear. Was it intended as a raid? An ambush? I don't know. But in scope it seems more like a skirmish, with two sides fighting over an outpost well removed from a point of strategic significance. My concern echoes the debate over the use of the phrase "War on Terror", with some arguing that rather than being a single coherent war, U.S. anti-terrorism efforts are a series of loosely connected operations, police actions, terrorist attacks, ambushes, etc. without a clear purpose or objective. More importantly, this incident has not been referred to as the "Battle of Wanat" and that title seems grandiose and inaccurate. Due to the ambiguity of the fight, I think it should be referred to as "Incident at Wanant" or "Raid at Wanant" or, better yet, whatever the news sources are using to refer to it. All I know for sure is that if I were someone who wanted info on the incident, I wouldn't think to type in "Battle of Wanant" off-handedly if only because it hasn't been referred to in this manner on the news.Krg8501 (talk) 03:19, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

A comparable incident during Vietnam might be Battle of FSB Mary Ann. Just a thought when deciding what to name the incident.Lawrencema (talk) 04:27, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

It seems being that this is a gurilla war for the taliban. The fact they would stage an attack using conventional warfare tactics would to me qualify this as a "battle". I can only think of one other occasion they actually attacked an entrenched U.S. position in this fashion. (One more parade (talk) 13:59, 18 July 2008 (UTC))

Revised Casualties[edit]

The original casualty figure indicated around 40 dead but a senior military official quoted by ABC later claimed that only about fifteen were believed to have been killed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:48, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

The numbers you are editing are likely not correct. I doubt seriously, as committed as the Taliban are, that they would have retreated given the numbers you are seeking to insert in this article. Please wait until more information is available.Cillmore (talk) 22:57, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

I have to agree. wait a couple of days before revising it. I've seen a DIFFERENT number on two different websites. let THEM get their act together first, a week should do it. --Hourick (talk) 23:38, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Second Battle of Wanat?[edit]

Allso, when NATO/Afghan forces move to retake Wanat(as it has been compleatly vacated by all Afghan/NATO forces) would that be considred a continuation of this event(the battle of wanat)? Or would that be considered a new inncident? (One more parade (talk) 13:59, 18 July 2008 (UTC))

That will likely depend upon the timing and nature of their return. If it isn't for another 6 months then it is obviously not the same battle. We will cross this bridge when we come to it. Plasticup T/C 15:01, 18 July 2008 (UTC)


Is there some reason that combatants are being referred to as "soldiers" if they wear NATO uniforms but "militants" if they happen to be fighting for the Taliban? Are they not "soldiers" in either case? Why the distinction? (talk) 14:21, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

I'm backing this linguistic position. The word "militant" is a bit loaded. We are talking about freedom fighters, Partisans, Nationalists, Guerrillas, revolutionary forces, whatever here.. they could be regarded as all kinds of things, but the word "militant" doesn't work for me. Not that I am pro-Taliban, far from it, its just that the chances are that these ragged trousered irregulars will be the next legitimate government of Afghanistan when we all get fed up with no political progress and the rising body count, and the invading Nato forces will be soundly defeated in small skirmishes like this, as is usual in Afghanistan and has been since the days of Alexander the Great and the British Raj. For better or worse. God help us all, and especially the poor soldiers out there.Excalibur (talk) 21:48, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Freedom Fighters?!? Come on now, i seriously wonder where some of you get this stuff from... anyway militants is pov because technically a militant is someone who belongs to a militia. Now a militia is a body of individuals carrying weapons. If you want to tell me that six hundred taliban nearly overran an american based in an unarmed unorganized flashmob then yes i would say that they are not militants. But they were armed and organized in a group, therefore militia and the members of that milita are called militants. User:XavierGreen —Preceding comment was added at 04:46, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
How about the term "guerrillas"? From the article, "small group of combatants use mobile tactics (ambushes, raids, etc.) to combat a larger and less mobile formal army. The guerrilla army uses ambush (draw enemy forces to terrain unsuited to them) and mobility (advantage and surprise) in attacking vulnerable targets in enemy territory." Sounds exactly like what happened here.Lawrencema (talk) 06:49, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

No No No[edit]

This "battle" is more Tactically a Taliban victory than Indecisive, though even that is a stretch. There is no strategic victory here. The MILITARY term stratigic victory does not apply the current Taliban position. The simple english difinition of the word strategic may be mostly correct, but if one puts it in military context there is no strategic victory. (talk) 02:13, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

I would say it is a strategic victory for the Taliban, NATO troops abandoned the base and the Taliban now control that area. It's simple as that.(Top Gun)

If you look at the article on strategic victory, the definition is one "that brings long-term advantage to the victor and disturbs the enemy's ability to wage war". The loss of a platoon base hardly disturbs the U.S. ability to wage war in Afghanistan. Of course, if there's a citation for that, I'll be happy to retract my statement. As it stands, I'd like to see standards introduced for the use of the battle infobox results as per my comments (and discussion) here.Lawrencema (talk) 04:35, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree that, if United States left this region, then Taliban winned this battle.Guerrilla isn't such a conventional battle.In a normal battle, the winner has less casualties, while in guerrilla war, the control of people and land is far more important, than causalties.See Vietnam war:United States wasn't defeated in any major battle, but lost that war, beacuse domestic support for that war became over.Agre22 (talk) 02:29, 20 July 2008 (UTC)agre22

I suggest you do some research. To claim that America 'never lost a major battle' in Vietnam is nothing more than a myth. You should look up the Battle of Kham Duc and FSB Ripcord. In both cases the Americans were forced to run for their lives in a MAJOR battle.Canpark (talk) 08:25, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Tow truck[edit]

The tow truck mentioned in the battle section. Does it refer to a vehicle designed to tow disabled vehicles, or a vehicle with a mounted TOW launcher? Lawrencema (talk) 00:35, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

I think considering that was the second object hit, Iwould imagine it was a mounted TOW launcher. --Hourick (talk) 09:54, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Source for the outcome[edit]

The discussion about whether this was a tactical defeat/ victory, strategic defeat/ victory or indecisive appears to be all about personal opinion. It doesn't appear that there is any independent, authoritative source which makes the statement one way or the other. In the absence of any source should the statement be removed completely?

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the needs of verifiability, and it appears that the outcome as statement doesn't meet that at present.

ALR (talk) 09:11, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

talk:Top Gun|Top Gun]])

Where is your source for an assessment of the military effect, in the context of the local operational environment, potential canalisation effect of the platoon house and the resulting freedom from canalisation risk which any withdrawal brings into play. What indicators and warnings could the location have allowed, and what's the depletion of I&W capability for the NATO force commander. Where is this discussed in an authoritative manner, which could be used to source the statement about the outcome.
Loss of life at the platoon level is largely incidental to the military effect, unless it was a platoon with very specific capability and the depletion of forces in theatre is significant. It doesn't appear form the commentary that this was a particularly esoteric capability, so the loss of life isn't particularly significant (militarily).
ALR (talk) 10:47, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree that we need a authoritative source for the outcome. As a matter of fact, I was just about to suggest the same thing.Lawrencema (talk) 10:50, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Let's simply cut this "strategic taliban victory" description, it seems to be unproper to describe it here, as this is rather small engagement with with no significant impact on a strategic situtation. Additionaly in my opinion suggesting that this batle is "strategic taliban victory" seems simply as pro-taliban propaganda and I think this violates NPOV. ~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Amakthea computer (talkcontribs) 14:25, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

And putting a "NATO tactical victory" wouldn't be pro-NATO propaganda?(Top Gun)

Not if it was a NATO tactical victory. And again, militarily, there is no strategic victory here to either side. AND it's not NPOV to say one side won half and the other side won the other half. If anything, the tactical indecisiveness of this engagement is, as thefeargod gleefully points out, "an enormous propaganda victory for the taliban", as clearly, the NATO forces did not "win" this engagement.Cillmore (talk) 19:01, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

The same principle applies, without some independent, authoritative, assessment the article can't come to any conclusions about the significance, tactical, operational or strategic, of the event. Hence, inconclusive.
fwiw the article you referenced engages in some journalistic speculation, the closest it gets to an assessment is will be considered a victory by the insurgents, which is an assumption about the conclusions of the OPFOR.
IMO it was tactically an insurgency victory, since the post was evacuated. I don't believe it has any real strategic or operational significance, given the distribution of these posts in the region. Until there is something independent to support that the article should stick with indecisive. The UK tried a similar approach in Helmand a couple of years ago, with 16AAB, and stopped it as having minimal operaitonal effectiveness.
ALR (talk) 15:13, 22 July 2008 (UTC)
Well there seems to be a determination to try to use an activity to describe the result, rather than an outcome. Whilst this is sourced I'd disagree that it's an outcome, as it doesn't consider the broader context of what the impact of the activity was. essentially the statement that the US/ Afgh fore withdrew merely leads one to ask so what.
I've highlighted a number of points upthread, which haven't been responded to, that I would argue need to be considered in identifying an outcome, not least is an independent authoritative source which assesses the outcome. In the absence of anything credible I'd suggest we either stick with indecisive, or unknown, until such time as something is developed.
ALR (talk) 12:28, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Pre-battle chatter?[edit]

I believe this is the battle that I read about on CNN that said one of the American soldiers who was a casualty had called home before hand to speak with his father and predicted the battle would be a bloodbath. Is this kind of detail something that would be included in a WP entry? Or is that beyond the scope of this site's intentions? (I'm still learning the ropes around here.)

Here's the article:

Would this be the kind of thing to include in the article given that the soldier's statement proved prophetic? Medleystudios72 (talk) 14:19, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

In some media accounts, family of the fallen soldiers recount the misgivings the soldiers had communicated to family back home about the mission. There are typically POV issues with the mass media vs what would be considered "encyclopedic content", but the article does document a current event, so there should be some leeway. The story is still developing, and the army will eventually report its findings about the defensibility of the patrol base, the appropriateness of the unit's strength, and particularly the support infrastructure. I've personally heard chatter that there were problems. There is also good background on the overall mission in publicly available army sources, for example the brigade and garrison newspapers. (talk) 01:40, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

Here are the facts as I understand them
1) A small group of American soldiers (platoon strength) repelled an attack on their outpost by an enemy which outnumbered them, sustaining heavy casualties (up to 50%) in the attempt.
2) Following the Taliban assault, the US platoon withdrew from the outpost for some reason (probably because the position was not defensible, and to regroup the shattered platoon, but that's just speculation on my part)
I wouldn't go as far as saying the battle was a tactical or strategic anything, but it's definitely a operational failure on the part of the US paratroopers. However, these things IMO should be judged from the perspective of the side that initiated the battle when discussing the outcome. The Taliban wanted to overrun the outpost and wipe out the American platoon, something that they failed to do (barely). So neither side comes off looking particularly good here.
For the result, the infobox needs to make it clear that the Taliban assault was repelled, AND that the outpost was subsequently abandoned. Things like tactical/strategic victory don't really belong here IMO. It's only POV that doesn't really tell the reader much.
And for "asses kicked", the paratroopers were outnumbered and fighting from what appears to be a poorly chosen site as far as defensibility goes, but still managed to repel the assault. I'm not saying it was a victory for the Americans, but to say asses kicked is a stretch. Lawrencema (talk) 00:12, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
I do think that you need to consider the operational situation and the vacation of the location does factor into any discussions, it can't be ignored. Whilst I do not think that the vacation was an outcome per se it could lead the ill informed and militarily unaware to the conclusion that it might have been. The operational implications are what's important and that should be what's reflected in the info box, preferable sourced from somewhere verifiable and authoritative.
We can't say what the OPFOR intent was; this may have been an effort to deny the location to allied forces on a long term basis, or it may have been a diversionary effort to allow through a supply package by diverting the attention of the I&W capability whilst it passed.
Proportionately the damage to the allied unit was significant, although numerically they inflicted more damage on the OPFOR than they incurred. In all honesty from a military perspective the loss of life is an irrelevance, since what's important is the operational effect.
ALR (talk) 08:13, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
Well that little bit of venting I'm sure must have made you feel better, but it doesn't actually respond to any of my questions presented above. Nonetheless, until such time as there is a verifiable, authoritative source for any outcome other than indecisive, or unknown, any statement otherwise fails to comply with the Wikipedia guidance on verifiability.
I'll restate the points which I believe you should be capable of answering before synthesising any other outcome:
  • What was the operational purpose of the post; was it intended to be an enduring position or was it a short term tactical site? Essentially was the task element intending on vacating this location anyway?
  • Is the I&W capability that this post offered available through other locations on the adversary supply route, and does the absence of this locaiton significantly deplete the I&W capability in the area.
  • Is the ability of the allied command to disrupt the supply route significantly depleted through the absence of allied forces from this location?
Kindly respond to these points before forcing your POV onto the article again.
ALR (talk) 08:13, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

New Army Report[edit] This report, which is currently in its draft form and should be publicly released in the next month or so, takes apart the Regimental command for putting the soldiers in such a vulnerable comparison. I added a couple lines about it after the ones from Col. Preysler, but I don't know if I either went too far or not far enough. Suffice to say, it sounds like this guy got a lot of good men killed because he didn't do his job. Even ignoring the pop-centric COIN doctrine issues, that platoon didn't even have enough water and were dehydrated at the time of the attack- it's a damned good thing the Taliban attacked when everyone was up and had their weapons by them or this could have been even worse. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Third Opinion[edit]

Hello! A third opinion was requested by a user. My response is this. I do not think it possible to arrive at a balanced conclusion about the significance or "big picture" outcome of this engagement, using reliable sources, at such an early stage. My advice would be to agree to desist for the moment from drawing any conclusion beyond the statements issued by involved organisations. The article seems reasonable as it stands. Redheylin (talk) 19:44, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Thankyou for taking the time to review this.
ALR (talk) 21:30, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

I am inclined to favor Topgun’s points in this affair; Military science terminology and benchmarks (objective and goals) are different in irregular/guerilla warfare. The goal of the Taliban and their allies is similar to that of the Foco Principals designed by Guevara: Their goal is to engage Isolated elements of the enemy, Inflict damage upon those forces and deny them the use of the countryside, while simultaneously Inflicting visible propaganda type attacks and “Victories” to gain recruits and supplies along with population support. The effective destruction of a engineer platoon and the death of their officer may be inconsequential in itself. However the subsequent NATO retreat from the border district allowing supply lines across the border combined with the major propaganda victory from this engagement and the Raid or Saraposa will allow the militants to present themselves as a viable military force and gain thousands of new recruits. Such methods were used by the Mujaden two decades ago against Soviet the forces who were able to control all major urban centers but found themselves under escalating attacks in the rural highlands, particularly in the Pakistan border where they received covert aid. Freepsbane (talk) 04:44, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't, in principle, disagree with the general thrust of your argument, although I don't believe that it actually supports the statement made in the info-box as there are a number of unsupported assumptions around the operational environment. Despite that I'd disagree that the objectives per se are different; area denial is a legitimate military objective, as is demonstration of capability. The operational level approach to achieving that is through small, attritional, engagements at the tactical level. I have to say I thought the asymmetric warfare is different school of thought went out of fashion some 5 years ago...
On the specific case I think there are too many unknowns to make a firm statement of the outcome. Using an activity to substitute for an outcome is intellectual laziness, implies an outcome that is unsupported by the available evidence and the intellectual fraud of obfuscating our lack of information does itself take a pro-insurgency position. As articulated above, we don't know if the countryside has been denied and whether this supply route is now unmonitored. The US forces claim to still be operating, and the Economist article highlights that the current operational use of the platoon house house approach tends to be within artillery range of a more significant base, suggesting that a more significant presence remains in the region.
Notwithstanding all of that I would agree that this is something which can be used as a recruiting tool, and I'm sure it is, which would allow it to be sourced and used in the article. Although I'm unconvinced that jihadi recruiting websites would pass muster from a verifiability/ reliability perspective in wikipedia-land...
I think it's worth being honest with ourselves, if not the reader, and acknowledging that we have no source for a declaration of any outcome at all, hence sticking with a declared ambiguity.
ALR (talk) 07:49, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think the above discussion, intelligent thought it be, demonstrates an inevitable strong reliance upon OR and POV rather than secondary sources discussing the final success of each side's strategy, which sources, of course, can barely be held even to exist. I can guarantee that such opinions, even if sourced, will not endure long in the article. Redheylin (talk) 22:45, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Article assessment[edit]

If someone would like to nominate this article, I believe it now meets WP:GA standards. With a little more background and aftermath information and a graphic or map, I believe it could make A-class or even FA. Cla68 (talk) 23:46, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Not possible...[edit]

As a two-tour veteran of OEF, I can tell you that there is no possible way for US Forces to accurately assess enemy combatant casualties in Afghanistan or Iraq. The policy is this:

They are Muslims. America must respect Muslims to appear peaceful. Muslims don't allow non-Muslims to touch their dead.


No possible way to know. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:28, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Battle of Wanat/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Hi! I'll be reviewing this article for GA status, and should have the full review up shortly. Dana boomer (talk) 16:25, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    • The lead needs to be longer - two full paragraphs would be about right - and should be a full summary of the article without including new information, such as that which is currently included about it being the highest recent American death toll.
    FixedXavierGreen (talk) 20:45, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
    • External links, such as that one in the lead, should not be present in the body of the article. If there isn't a Wikipedia article on the subject, just don't link it.
FixedXavierGreen (talk) 23:39, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
  1. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    Web references need to include publishers and access dates at the very least. For example, current refs 18 and 19 lack publishers, and #27 lacks both publisher and access date. These are just examples, though, so please check all of the web references.
  2. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  3. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  4. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  5. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    • Are there really no pictures that could be used to illustrate this article? A picture of the area, a picture of American troops on a different mission in Afghanistan, nothing? If not, it's fine, and not a requirement for GA would just be nice to have an image!
    2 images addedXavierGreen (talk) 20:45, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
  6. Overall:

Overall, this article is really close to GA status. There are just a few issues with MOS and references, as well as one minor comment to do with images. Once these are taken care of, the article will be good to go for GA status. Nice work so far! Please let me know if you have any questions. Dana boomer (talk) 17:08, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

The work done on the article looks good so far. All that's left to do is publishers for a few references and an access date for one. Once that's done, I'll promote to GA status. Dana boomer (talk) 18:41, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
There's not a lot left to do on this article, so it shouldn't take to long to get it the rest of the way to GA status. Is work still progressing? Also, please note the weasel-word tag that has been placed - this sentence should be re-worded to tell who "suggested" this theory. Dana boomer (talk) 17:55, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
The source for the statement was from a subscription only source, since i could not find the statement elsewhere i simply eliminated it from the text.XavierGreen (talk) 23:43, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
I believe i fixed the publishers and access date problemsXavierGreen (talk) 23:55, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm doing some more cleanup on the references right now. I'll finish it up later today and then pass the article to GA status. Dana boomer (talk) 14:00, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
I've finished the ref cleanup, and will now be promoting the article to GA status. A few notes: I readded the information that had been tagged with the weasel-word tag, and reworded it slightly so as to not need the tag. This information is useful, it just needed a prose tweak. I converted all of the references to using cite templates. There was a mix of use and non-use, so I just standardized them all and added more information when necessary. Nice work on the article! Dana boomer (talk) 14:57, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Battle of Wanat/GA2. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

--Airborne84 (talk) 05:14, 25 June 2010 (UTC)=== GA Reassessment === I believe that this article does not meet criteria 1.a. and criteria 3.

  • 1.a. It may have met this criteria during the GA review in 2009. Additions since then have reintroduced undesireable elements seen in many Wikipedia articles—information inserted by multiple editors without concern for the flow of the article. In particular, the section "Operational failures" (which I renamed "Operational issues" since "failures" falls short of criteria 3) seems out of place.
  • 3. I'm concerned that this article is written in a POV form. In general, it seems well-sourced. However, it seems to paint a picture of an utter failure by the chain of command. I'm not saying that the material that paints a poor picture should be removed. However, there is additional material available in various reports, some of which are noted in the external links, that could be used to help fill in some of the information gaps. Sure, include the report that states there was a "lack of supplies, equipment, and drinking water for troops stationed in Wanat". However, this could also be balanced by information available in these reports on what was actually there. Some more balance is needed. I also went through and removed some POV wording here and there that was not listed in the sources. This may have been "POV creep" in the last year. However, there was too much editorializing. A scrub is in order to ensure that the rest of the material reflects the sources themselves, and not the editors opinions.

I think this article could easily be a GA, but it needs a bit more balance and a rewrite for criteria 1.a. It doesn't necessarily fail criteria 2 (broad in coverage), but it's not detailed enough to meet the comprehensive criteria of an FA. That detail is something that should be strived for, and will help fill GA criteria 3 here again.--Airborne84 (talk) 04:56, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

Another note. The lede doesn't reflect much of the information on the investigations that is given in the last section. Since the lede is supposed to be a summary of the article, that should be updated as well. --Airborne84 (talk) 05:14, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Due to changes to the article, I believe that the GA status can reasonably be kept. I have closed the GAR. --Airborne84 (talk) 16:11, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Wikileaks report[edit]

Wikileaks has a detailed report on the battle: -- (talk) 14:28, 28 July 2010 (UTC)


The Taliban attack was repulsed. They failed to overrun the outpost despite overwhelming numbers. Taliban casualties were five times greater than ISAF forces defending the garrison. Sounds like a tactical ISAF victory to me.--Jiujitsuguy (talk) 04:47, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

No argument on the tactical side. This battle had undeniable ramifications at the strategic level though. Please see the below thread. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Result of Battle[edit]

The "result of battle" has changed recently from the consensus that was arrived at before. The below list captures the modifications.
1. "Indecisive, Strategic results favorable for Taliban; ISAF withdraws from town."
2. "Indecisive, ISAF withdraws from town."
3. "Insurgent attack repulsed, ISAF withdraws from town."
I have my own feelings on this matter, that actually align with the changes. However, this is a tricky subject. The original version (noted in #1 above) was discussed, and was not changed after it was input some time ago (see "Indecisive?" thread in talk page). Thus, it achieved a consensus. I feel that these recent changes, without a new consensus, may be problematic; some editors may feel that they violate WP:NPOV. That would conflict with its current GA assessment. It's better in this case, and IMO, to achieve a new consensus before changing these sentences since they may be challenged.
I should note that the current version in the article stands as stated in #2 above.
I welcome further discussion on this matter. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:09, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
As an added note, some of the problem before was the lack of published sources giving reasonable statements regarding the result of the battle. I think that the recent history of the battle published by the US Army's Combat Studies Institute may provide useful language in describing the battle if needed. [3]
I won't argue the point and defer to your judgement.--Jiujitsuguy (talk) 06:25, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
I think #3 is a neutral description of the result of the battle. Cla68 (talk) 12:24, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Battle of Nam Dong[edit]

Compare this battle with 1964 Battle of Nam Dong in Vietnam where communist forces also attempted to overrun a special forces camp. This battle was fictionalized in the The Green Berets (film) in which they are surrounded and nearlly overrun by attackers who have destroyed much of the camp, but are driven back by airpower and artillery. Australian member of the Australian Army Training Team (Vietnam) AATTV, Warrant Officer Kevin Conway was in a forward weapon pit and alone fired his mortar upon the assaulting enemy in ever decreasing range fire until he was forced to bring his mortar fire upon himself to save the perimeter of the base before he was killed. There were 360 allied defenders vs. 900 communist attackers. Also see the Battle of Khe Sanh which communists wanted to make into another Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In both cases, the attackers failed to destroy their objective, though the allies eventually withdrew. The incident at Wanat hasn't been give it anywhere near the importance that was given to either battle, but given reports that Al Queda, Taliban and various other militant groups from Pakistan were involved in a very well organized attack, it is certainly possible that the attackers saw it as a very important battle, and that they were disappointed in the outcome. The common viewpoint that it was all for nothing and poorly excecuted may not fully appreciate the strategic importance and sacrifice of this small American force holding on to the base at considerable personal cost. Redhanker (talk) 00:39, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Construction of the outpost[edit]

I removed an unsourced statement regarding the construction of the outpost and the status of the defenses at the time of attack. One of the biggest misconceptions in the press and the public is in this area (although there are others to be sure). For example, one sentence still in this article states that there was no heavy equipment. The contractors were not on site due to various issues, but there was a Bobcat on the scene (see pages 96–98 of the reference below).

I'd ask that further material on this particular topic be sourced carefully. Now available is the recently released history of the battle published by the US Army's Combat Studies Institute. Pages 89–106 cover the construction and the state of the defenses in depth.

The history is comprehensive and draws from interviews with multiple primary sources. In my opinion, there is little need now to add unsourced material to this article, except for non-contentious prose that helps fulfill Featured Article criteria 1a, which would be the next natural progression because this is already a good article.

I've read the history and made some notes, but it it may be many months before I am able to use them to improve this article. Other editors should feel free to do so—all of the information needed to make this a Featured Article is in that history. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:23, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Taliban side[edit]

Did the Taliban fighters involved in the battle ever get their side of the story published anywhere, such as in a Pakistani newspaper? Cla68 (talk) 23:37, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure there's some stories in Al Jazeera. If there's a particular angle that still needs to be covered, I'm sure it's available in the press somewhere. Why do you ask? --Airborne84 (talk) 00:19, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
The Taliban side of the battle isn't detailed in the article as well as the NATO side. Cla68 (talk) 02:40, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
I see. Al Jazeera or one of the other news agencies in the middle-east/Asia would be the place to check. I don't think it will help that much though. The Taliban undoubtedly got one or more early stories out to news agencies with their spin on it. They're very good at information operations. However, I suspect that whatever they put out grossly overstated coalition casualties and understated theirs. Whatever they put out will be easily contradicted on the coalition side because the U.S. and Afghan casualties are pretty reliably reported by now. What you might get that could be useful would be the Taliban statement of the casualties on their side. Again, it will likely be understated, but that doesn't really matter on Wikipedia. You know as well as I do that verifiability is the only thing that counts. Just thoughts. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:50, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking more along the lines of who the Taliban forces were, i.e. which villages or units they were from, what their plan and strategy was for that area, their relationship with the locals, and what they did after they retreated from the battle. Cla68 (talk) 08:09, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
This "senior Afghan" official evidently got his numbers from the Taliban, and he thinks it was 200 to 500 fighters. This was a joing operation of Taliban, Al Queda, and seemingly every other anti-American force from Pakistan to Kashmir. This was not just the local villagers defending their homes, it was not their idea to stage a firefight there where the town buildings would have to be targeted with rockets and hellfire missles.. The American press is spinning it as a discouraging defeat, but IMHO, the small allied force did a magnificent job under less than ideal circumstances. After all the US went into Afghanistan to challenge and clear out the Taliban and Al Qeda, the result was not a Dien Bien Phu as was clearly their objective. If you check out various Battle of Wanat youtube videos, there are lots of taunting comments from Taliban or their sympathizers. From Long War Journal: The assault was carried out in the early morning of July 13 after the extremist forces, numbering between 200 and 500 fighters, took over a neighboring village. "What they [the Taliban] did was they moved into an adjacent village - which was close to the combat outpost - they basically expelled the villagers and used their houses to attack us," an anonymous senior Afghan defense ministry official told Al Jazeera. Tribesmen in the town stayed behind "and helped the insurgents during the fight," General Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh, the provincial police chief, told The Associated Press.Redhanker (talk) 22:00, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Read more:

This also uses the 500 taliban number. Has discussion of whether withdrawal from base and ceding territory to Taliban amounts to strategic success for insurgents. Seems it doesn't take much to convince US forces to quit and pull back, the Taliban don't seem to mind putting up a big fight or taking casualities as long as they know the US will pull out if they cause enough damage with a couple hundred fighters or so. July 13, 2008

Nuristan province A large, joint Taliban and al Qaeda force consisting of upwards of 500 fighters killed nine US soldiers during an assault on a combat outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province. An unknown number of Taliban fighters were killed. US and Afghan forces abandoned the outpost days later. Read more: Redhanker (talk) 22:16, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

That's very good information, Redhanker. If the Taliban publicly claimed victory after this battle, then that needs to be added to the article also. Cla68 (talk) 01:38, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes i imagine it would be considered a United States Tactical Victory, since they repelled the taliban. But a Taliban Strategic Victory since they ultimately gained control of the district through this battles influence on us troop deployments, for example the shift away from small bases was widened after this battle.XavierGreen (talk) 22:50, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Disagree. The post was evac'd because it proved to be too vulnerable but the US did not abandon Nuristan province and still vigorously patrols there. The mission is just carried out differently in a way that minimizes casualties without sacrificing results. In no way can this battle be described as a Taliban strategic success. It can best be described as a tactical US victory with inconclusive strategic results.--Jiujitsuguy (talk) 02:08, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Xavier, don't be too quick to try to label battles in ongoing conflicts as strategic victories for one side or the other. Its difficult to tell, IMO, which battles were strategically significant until the conflict if over. Cla68 (talk) 07:11, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Correct. "Strategic" results for the Taliban could include the erosion of U.S. popular support for the intervention in Afghanistan. However, remember that our opinions are irrelevant at Wikipedia. It's only the opinion of reliable sources that matter here.
My thoughts are that this will continue to go back and forth for some time until someone includes some reliable secondary source material that provides for some results. The last part of the Army's CSI history may do so. I haven't combed through specifically for that. I'm sure there are some news agencies that have offered analyses on this also. --Airborne84 (talk) 11:58, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Jiujitsuguy, i didnt say that the US abandoned the province, they abandoned the district and i believe it is still under taliban control. Are there any statements by Dost Mohammed about what his objectives were when launching the operation? That might help clarify some things. If the talibans goal was to eject the Americans from the district then they succeded (strategic victory) if they had any other goal (such as defeating a force in detail) then i would agree that it would be indecisive. But as Airborne84 said we would need secondary sources in order to include such information in the article.XavierGreen (talk) 00:19, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

COP vs VPB[edit]

The article mentions the acronym VPB Kahler twice, but the official history uses COP Kahler. Plus the unofficial history, leaked by the Washington Post [4] states:

"First, within US Army doctrine there is no such thing as a “Vehicle Patrol Base.” “VPB” is not a recognized US Army acronym. It is not defined in any Field Manual; nor is the concept, or any Tactics, Techniques or Procedures (TTPs) for a “Vehicle Patrol Base” taught at any US Army schools or institutions."

The term should be removed and maybe a clarification added. --DelftUser (talk) 18:39, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree. We don't have to adhere to US Army doctrinal terms in this article, but there's something to be said for consistency. The only caveat is that, if VPB is used in a source (and it is), then it should be mentioned—regardless of statements made in one of the sources that it's "not a word."
One possibility is to take the first use of "COP" and add a note mentioning the use of "Vehicle Patrol Base" in some sources. --Airborne84 (talk) 19:06, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

US commanders & leaders[edit]

Captain Matthew Myer arrived at COP Kahler on July 12th, he should be listed in the infobox as the commander. --DelftUser (talk) 05:14, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I made the change. --Airborne84 (talk) 05:21, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
Is there a citation for this? I dont doubt its correct but it should have a citation.XavierGreen (talk) 22:47, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
It's in the Army's recently published history (discussed above). I don't think it needs a citation, but if someone wants one, it's available there. --Airborne84 (talk) 11:49, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Alrighty, though i noticed his name isnt mentioned in the background section. It should likely be incorporated into it somehow.XavierGreen (talk) 00:25, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Cla68 (talk) 00:34, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Article overhaul[edit]

I notice that there still seems to be a lot of interest in this article. With the recent publication of the CSI's history of the battle, we are not left wanting for information published by reliable sources, IMO.
I read the CSI's history thoroughly and made notes for possible additions. I even made a new tentative outline that would better encompass the information on the battle. I'd be willing to collaborate on a major upgrade. I've taken one article to FA status, and don't mind bringing this there as well. However, I just don't have time to do it myself now.
If there's interest in a collaboration, let me know. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:01, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Id be happy to help with a collaboration, i too have taken one article up to FA status. Ive been reading the CSI history as well but i havent finished it yet, though i agree that there is enough detailed information that FA class seems feasible.XavierGreen (talk) 02:09, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, take your time with the CSI history. Better yet would be to have someone else pitch in. We probably just need to agree on a new outline (if in fact it is needed) and farm out the sections to whoever is interested.
Of course, I'm open to other ideas as well. Thanks for your interest. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:28, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

More upbeat assessment[edit]

From [5] Final Report on Battle of Wanat- A victory with a high cost Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [December 29, 2010] Any story where 9 American soldiers die is tragic by definition. But tragedy does not automatically impart blame and it certainly does not inhibit heroism. The Battle of Wanat deserves to go down in the annals of the airborne as an example of brave paratroopers repelling an attack from the high ground by an enemy with vastly superior numbers. The fighting spirit and esprit de corps of the Punishers of 2nd Plt, C Co, 2nd of the 503rd carried the day and in the end they held their ground.That would have been a victory in any other war and we should make sure it is remembered as one in this war.

When the battle was initially reported and every step of the way since inaccurate information has been used to characterize the situation. The narrative became one of command failure in planning and supporting the opening of a new base. This led the families of some of the fallen to request an additional investigation which was initiated. At the same time a contract historian at Leavenworth named Cubbison had been working on a historic record of the battle and released a draft of his work to some colleagues. It was eventually released to the families and the public and it read like an indictment of the command structure of the entire Brigade. It was a nakedly, transparent attack on the judgment and professionalism of the officers involved with planning and executing the operation to build the new patrol base. Leavenworth has since done extensive editing to the draft to turn if from an attack into a legitimate record which is available here.

This is a point of view which is not reflected in the article, which still seems to reflect the original report which spent more emphasis on placing blame than on praising the performance of those who in the end succeeded in holding their ground against a determined and skillful attacking force. Redhanker (talk) 04:51, 11 March 2011 (UTC)


I'm not sure what the issue with the Natonski block quote is. The edit removing the block quote formatting ends up plagiarizing the source because it's a direct quote and would be left without quotation marks or the distinction of a block quote as per WP:MoS. That can't be an improvement. I'd be happy to hear what the issue with the current quote is; the edit summary was a bit vague. Thanks. --Airborne84 (talk) 22:55, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

OK. First off, if you're actually quoting someone using the blockquote template you need to actually have quotes in the passage. Secondly, the sentence just broke off midway (no punctuation, no quotes)... please see Wikipedia:MOSQUOTE as the same rules apply to all of journalism. Wikipedia articles aren't immune to basic journalistic writing style. Thirdly, looking into the cited sources it appears that none of what is in the quote block appears word-for-word in those cites. Are quoting Natonski directly? Or are we adding the quoteblock because we cut and pasted from the article? I'm confused. The way is looks now is how it's properly done. The problem is that the sources don't support it. If you're quoting Natonski directly, with sources, then you use the bq template. If you're using this article as a cite, you have to rewrite the passage yourself, nonverbatim, then add said cite as a ref. --Travis Thurston+ 00:35, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Blockquotes do not get quotation marks at Wikipedia. It's redundant. Wikipedia:MOSQUOTE states "Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks." That seems pretty clear.
I'm sorry that you didn't like my method of introducing the blockquote, but it's not incorrect. It's a style choice, and is specifically noted as a method in the Chicago Manual of Style, for example, among other style guides. Because you prefer a different way of doing it does not make other methods "incorrect" and your way, "how it's properly done". I defaulted to the CMoS method because the Wikipedia MoS didn't mandate a method (that I saw). There's probably a good reason for that: it leaves room for multiple style choices.
As far as the quote, the block quote is taken verbatim from page 3 of Natonski's report as noted—and linked to—in the citation. If you think the citation is not properly formatted, a good way to address the problem would have been to adjust the citation template.
Finally, I don't have an issue with the way you formatted the introduction to the block quote. That is another way to do it; another style choice.
Thus, I didn't revert, I simply removed the quotation marks from the blockquote IAW WP:MoS. --Airborne84 (talk) 01:20, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I just looked again. Since you added the words "The officers" to the block quote, the direct quote is now incorrect. Since my method of fixing the problem will no doubt be "incorrect" to you, please fix the issue that you introduced. Thanks. --Airborne84 (talk) 01:27, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I think I see what you may have been talking about. General Campbell's report was attributed to Natonski. I changed the attribution. I also modified the introduction of the block quote to fix the noted issue. Perhaps this solution will be acceptable. --Airborne84 (talk) 01:53, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Problem with "most [deaths] in a single battle"[edit]

Article states that:

"The U.S. deaths were the most in a single battle since the start of U.S. operations in 2001"

Even if the writer meant single day or single engagement this is not true. 16 SEALs and Airmen died in one helicopter in Red Wings II. (talk) 06:48, 13 July 2014 (UTC)