Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taliban breach US base defenses

A reminder to all that we are in the middle of fighting season in Afghanistan. The enemy is still focused on victory, so should we.

As we have discussed, the grand opportunity NATO took to take the lead and win in AFG has failed due to their feet of clay. As Iraq continues to solidify and become less and less attractive to foreign fighters and Islamists money, the focus of Islamism will shift back to AFG, as that looks in play.
More than 100 insurgents breached a US outpost in north-eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing nine US troops in hours of fierce fighting, Nato says.

The militants used rocket propelled grenades and homemade mortars to bombard the base, close to Pakistan's border, from several sides.

The attack caused one of the single worst losses of life for foreign troops since operations began in 2001.
Watch close as the drawdown in Iraq starts - odds are that the USA will step up in AFG as NATO continues to fail in its attempt to get more maneuver forces in theater.

Keep and eye on Michael Yon as well, he is heading to AFG.
UPDATE: Kat over at Argghhh!!!! has a good post on the subject using a title I wish I used, Rorke's Drift, Afghanistan. The NYT's bit she links to gives a much better account of the battle than the BBC one I did. Just a taste,
The attackers were driven back in a pitched four-hour battle, and they appeared to suffer scores of dead and wounded of their own, but the toll they inflicted was sobering. The base and a nearby observation post were held by just 45 American troops and 25 Afghan soldiers, two senior allied officials said, asking for anonymity while an investigation was under way.

With nine Americans dead and at least 15 injured, that means that one in five of the American defenders was killed and nearly half the remainder were wounded. Four Afghan soldiers were also wounded.

American and Afghan forces started building the makeshift base just last week, and its defenses were not fully in place, one of the senior allied officials said. In some places, troops were using their vehicles as barriers against insurgents.

The militants apparently detected the vulnerability and moved quickly to exploit it in a predawn assault in which they attacked from two directions, American officials said.

It was the first time insurgents had partly breached any of the three dozen outposts that American and Afghan forces operate jointly across the country, according to a Western official who insisted on anonymity in providing details of the operation.
American and Afghan soldiers inside the base were hit by flying fragments from bullets, grenades and mortar shells that insurgents fired from houses, shops and a mosque in a village within a few hundred yards of the base, several officials said.

At the lightly fortified observation post nearby, American soldiers came under heavy fire from militants streaming through farmland under cover of darkness. Most of the American casualties took place there, a senior American military official said.

American warplanes, attack helicopters and long-range artillery were urgently summoned to help repel the militants.
Allied and American officials said the attack began at 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Fighters who had infiltrated the hamlet of Wanat overnight and ordered the villagers to leave opened fire on the outpost from the west and southwest.

At roughly the same time, American officials said, another group began the second prong of attack, firing on the observation post from the east. Some fought through to the main outpost a few hundred yards farther.

American ground commanders immediately called in artillery and airstrikes from a B-1 bomber, as well as A-10 and F-15E attack planes. Apache helicopter gunships and a remotely piloted Predator aircraft fired Hellfire missiles at the insurgents, military officials said.

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