COP Bari Alai

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 6 months ago

We have discussed the difficulty of combat outposts in the mountainous Eastern part of Afghanistan, and the tactical problems caused by attempting to defend low terrain.  This contributed in no small part to the casualties at Wanat and Kamdesh.  A fire fight around Kamdesh typically looked something like this (the scene is of COP Keating from OP Fritschie).

The terrain surrounding COP Bari Alai is different.

Hostile sniper and automatic weapon fire is a normal part of life here, provided by an enemy who strains to dislodge Afghan National Army and International Security Assistance Forces from the mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

For example, in a 74-day period starting in February there were more than 50 recorded attacks against the base, U.S. Army officials said. The Soldiers who live here are well aware of how contested the base is.

“If you freeze up in combat, you’re either not ready to be a leader or you aren’t ready for a place like this,” said U.S. Army Spc. Shawn D. Hufford, of Evansville, Ind., the mortar noncommissioned officer attached to 2nd Platoon, Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Destroyer.

The base was set on its high summit in the Ghazibad district in March 2009 and manned by the Afghan National Army. Officials named it for an ANA Soldier killed earlier that year.

It has been almost a year since a subsequent attack killed five Afghan soldiers, five ISAF advisors and a civilian interpreter, causing a fire that levelled much of the post. Despite persistent efforts, the enemy has not been able to duplicate that act since.

The base – 3,000 feet above sea level – oversees three valleys and at least ten major villages, providing a vast overlook of the surrounding territory, according to U.S. Army 1st Lt. Richard R. Rowe, 2nd platoon’s leader.

“It’s all about terrain,” Rowe said. “It’s a pretty volatile stretch.”

This position helps provide protection for neighbouring communities, the nearby district center and Afghanistan National Security Forces – as well as ISAF – as they conduct business with area residents.

The relative isolation of the post is an illusion, as ANA Soldiers at the post maintain contact with Afghan National Police who secure the communities below.

“We have a good partnership between the ANA and ANP,” Rowe said. “Now that it’s established, I can’t imagine not having it.”

Although there are taller mountains nearby, the post’s position is high enough to protect the Soldiers and low enough to help protect the community, Rowe said.

But recall that this is also the scene, approximately one year ago, of around 100 Taliban fighting uphill towards the COP, resulting in the deaths of three U.S. Soldiers due to collusion between the Taliban and Afghan National Army soldiers.  Terrain is important, but it cannot overcome treachery.  When possible though, the physical positioning of COP Bari Alai is an example of a wise tactical choice.

  • proudbrotherofsoldiers

    Great post. I have been enjoying your insights…please continue. I had a brother who spent time in the Korengal, so these types of posts resonate with me in particular given recent events.

  • Roughneck Six

    God rest your soul, Bill Vile, you vile S.O.B. You stood up and I’m proud of you. Khoda Hafez, brother.

  • Paul Horne

    Rest in Peace SSG Vile, SGT Pirtle and SPC King. I am Sergeant Pirtle’s uncle. A former 11B SSG myself. It is sad that the press never really got the true story here. The fact that ALL claymore cords were cut from inside the out post was NEVER discussed in the media. As a former soldier, I would like to believe that some good will come from the sacrifices that are being made. But, I am not so positive. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. It has to be Afghanistan that wants to join the 21st century, we cannot make it. Until then, let’s stop paying in blood with those that are so young. Honor and respect their service….. But give them a task that can be accomplished. We miss and love you very much Jimmy. I think of you EVERY DAY.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Thank you Mr. Horne for visiting my site and sharing your thoughts.


You are currently reading "COP Bari Alai", entry #4919 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Battle of Bari Alai,Uncategorized and was published April 30th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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