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Mission 56 - Details
Operation Whalers

Korengal Valley, Afghanistan—August 11, 2005: The US returns to one of the deadliest regions of Afghanistan to tax revenge for a brutal ambush by the Taliban.

Over the course of the past two months, the Taliban is blamed for killing hundreds of innocent people in Afghanistan: aid workers, religious and tribal leaders, and government officials, all in a bid to derail parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in September. The military is beefing up its presence at polling sites and government offices in defense, managing to thwart and minimize Taliban attacks.

But to the east, there is a different strategy in place.

A fierce offensive is launched throughout Kunar Province. Marines and Afghan Army soldiers storm the mountains, and flood the rudimentary trails that wind through Korengal Valley. With warplanes screaming overhead, the operation is far from clandestine. Instead, Marines take the fight to the enemy, hoping to draw fire to get a bead on the Taliban. And take them out once and for all.

The retaliatory strike is a bold retort to the killing of three Navy SEALs and 16 Special Forces troops the SEALs called in as reinforcements. In one fowl swoop, the terrorists managed to deal America its biggest single loss since the opening stages of the War on Terror. The overwhelming response, dubbed Operation Whalers, is held under wraps for two agonizing months.

Targeting the rebels is a grueling task. The eastern Koregnal Valley is a rugged region of wide open, lush farmland bordered by treacherously steep mountains. It takes 48 hours to reach the target areas within the mountains: the thick, sinister forests where al Qaeda fighters take refuge.

Soldiers in the lowlands are tasked with digging trenches large enough to hold troops to secure the perimeter with mortar fire and machine guns. It is a public endeavor, and before long, they’re attacked in a vicious rain of enemy fire. The Afghan Army, backed by Marines, thwarts the ambush. Nevertheless, it is a foreboding start.

High in the mountains, in the pockets of woodland where the SEALs and Special Forces were overcome by the enemy, the enemy is surrounded. A succession of violent battles begins and, for 11 days and nights, soldiers bear witness to some of the fiercest resistance in Afghanistan to date.

Taliban rebels launch no fewer than 29 attacks against the Marines in their furious counter-offensive. From behind every tree and at the edge of each cliff, hungry rebels take the ultimate stand against the US-led forces. RPGs and AK-47s are fired at a furious rate, as hundreds of killers take aim at the incoming troops.

Standing firmly on the sacred ground where their comrades fell, the Americans fight back.


Operation Whalers

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