"Operation Enduring Freedom" (OEF) is the current official name used by the U.S. government for the War in Afghanistan, together with a number of smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the Global "War on Terror" (GWOT).
The operation was originally called "Operation Infinite Justice", but as similar phrases have been used by adherents of several religions as an exclusive description of God, it is believed to have been changed to avoid offense to Muslims, who are the majority religion in Afghanistan. U.S. President George W. Bush's remark that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while", which prompted widespread criticism from the Islamic world, may also have contributed to the renaming of the operation.
The Operation comprises several subordinate operations:
Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines (OEF-P, formerly Operation Freedom Eagle)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Pankisi Gorge (completed in 2004)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS; see also Insurgency in the Maghreb)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Caribbean and Central America (OEF-CCA)
The term "OEF" typically refers to the war in Afghanistan. Other operations, such as the Georgia Train and Equip Program, are only loosely or nominally connected to OEF, such as through government funding vehicles. All the operations, however, have a focus on counterterrorism activities.
Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, which is a joint U.S., U.K. and Afghan operation, is separate from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is an operation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations including the U.S. and U.K. The two operations run in parallel, and although it has been intended that they merge for some time, this has not yet happened.
In response to the attacks of 11 September, the early combat operations that took place on 7 October 2001 to include a mix of strikes from land-based B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, carrier-based F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighters, and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from both U.S. and British ships and submarines signaled the start of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (OEF-A).
The initial military objectives of OEF-A, as articulated by President George W. Bush in his 20 September Address to a Joint Session of Congress and his 7 October address to the country, included the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al-Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan."
In January 2002, over 1,200 soldiers from the United States Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) deployed to the Philippines to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their push to uproot terrorist forces on the island of Basilan. Of those groups included are Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. The operation consisted of training the AFP in counter-terrorist operations as well as supporting the local people with humanitarian aid in Operation Smiles.
In October 2002, the Combined Task Force 150 and United States military Special Forces established themselves in Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier. The stated goals of the operation were to provide humanitarian aid and patrol the Horn of Africa to reduce the abilities of terrorist organizations in the region. Similar to OEF-P, the goal of humanitarian aid was emphasised, ostensibly to prevent militant organizations from being able to take hold amongst the population as well as reemerge after being removed.
The military aspect involves coalition forces searching and boarding ships entering the region for illegal cargo as well as providing training and equipment to the armed forces in the region. The humanitarian aspect involves building schools, clinics and water wells to enforce the confidence of the local people.
Since 2001, the cumulative expenditure by the U.S. government on Operation Enduring Freedom has exceeded $150 billion.
The operation continues, with military direction mostly coming from United States Central Command.