Naval History and Heritage Command

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Operation Enduring Freedom 

Operation Enduring Freedom

Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. From left to right: Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif; Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.; Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell; Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.; Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y. With the exception of the lone survivor, Luttrell, all were killed 28 June 2005 by enemy forces while supporting Operation Redwing. (U.S. Navy Photo)


In response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, Operation Enduring Freedom officially began 7 October 2001 with American and British bombing strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Initially, the Taliban was removed from power and al-Qaeda was seriously crippled, but forces continually dealt with a stubborn Taliban insurgency, infrastructure rebuilding and corruption among the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Border Police.

On 2 May 2011, U.S. Navy SEALS launched a raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the September 11th terrorist’s attacks (O’Rourke). Operation Enduring Freedom officially ended 28 December 2014, although coalition forces remain on the ground to assist with training Afghan security forces (Torreon).

The U.S. Navy had three Medal of Honor recipients during Operation Enduring Freedom, all Navy SEALS, Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers Jr. and Master Chief Petty Officer Britt Slabinski.

The links below showcase NHHC’s online holdings pertaining to Operation Enduring Freedom.


O’Rourke, Ronald. 2015. “Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Report for Congress (November 6): 1.

Torreon, Barbara. 2016. “U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Recent Conflicts.” Congressional Research Report for Congress (September 29): 6–7.



Notable People

Notable Ships

Special Operations & SEALs

Further Readings


Additional Resources

Selected Imagery

Tan modern tactical vest with magazines, dummy pistol, Grenade and compass with signalling light

This tactical training vest and accessories belonged to Navy SEAL Britt Slabinski. MCPO Slabinski was awarded the Medal of Honor on 24 May 2018 for his actions in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda in 2002. 

Brown Painted modern rifle SR-25 Stoner 7.62mm MK 1 Mod 0 of MCPO Britt Slabinski

SR-25 Sniper Rifle carried by SCPO Britt Slabinski in Afghanistan during 2002.

Huey Landing on USS Bataan

Huey Landing On USS Bataan. Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Kristopher J. Battles; 2015; Framed Dimensions 12H x 18W. (Navy Art Accession #2015-011-08)

A night takeoff from an aircraft carrier the afterburner lights up the ship

Tomcat Into the Night. Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Morgan Ian Wilbur; 2002; Framed Dimensions 29H X 35W. (Navy Art Accession #2002-093-02)

Naval Nocturne, USS John C Stennis (OEF Combat Cruise 2001-2002)

Naval Nocturne, USS John C. Stennis. Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Morgan Ian Wilbur; 2009; Framed Dimensions 24H X 32W. (Navy Art Accession #2009-020-05)

Published: Fri Aug 07 13:27:14 EDT 2020