Taliban Massing of Forces Part III

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

The Waygal district in Nuristan has been seized by Taliban forces.

The Taliban seized control of a district in eastern Nuristan Province on Tuesday, chasing the governor and the police from the district capital, according to both Afghan officials and a spokesman for the Taliban.

It was the second Taliban success in recent days in the general area of the strategic Pech Valley, which American troops are in the process of withdrawing from and turning over to Afghan authorities.

“The white flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is flying over the Want district center, while some policemen of the puppet administration flee toward the provincial capital after slight resistance,” said the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement to news organizations circulated by e-mail. He was referring to the district more commonly known as Waygal.

The Nuristan Province police commander, Gen. Shams-ul-Rahman Zahid, confirmed that the police had fled their barracks and district government buildings in town of Waygal, the capital of Waygal district, leaving the Taliban in what he said was temporary control of the district. The district governor, Mulavi Zia-ul-Rahman, was also said to have fled.

“Police forces have tactically withdrawn from the district center early this morning about 5 a.m. following harsh fighting and due to lack of ammunition, and to avoid civilian casualties,” General Zahid said in a telephone interview.

“We are planning a counterattack to retake the district,” he said. “We will reinforce and retake the district soon from the insurgents.”

On Saturday, 40 police recruits had been returning to their homes, also in Waygal district, when they were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents as they crossed through Capa Dara district in the Pech Valley area, which is in Kunar Province close to the Nuristan border.

Analysis & Commentary

It is reported that the Taliban massed forces of up to 300 fighters.  I had previously reported that there have been at least eight instances of massing of forces against coalition troops.

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban forces massing from 100 to 400 troops for engagements (approximately half-Battalion), including at the fated Battle of Wanat.  The Battle of Kamdesh is a seventh instance of massing of forces, in this case up to 300 troops.

The Germans have experienced yet another example.  “Germany says three of its soldiers were killed and five severely wounded in heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents today in northern Afghanistan.

The German military said the detachment was patrolling near Chahar Dara, southwest of the city of Konduz, when it was attacked by militants.

District government chief Abdul Wahid Omar Khil estimated there were about 200 Taliban fighters involved in the attack.”

This report from Waygal is no less than the ninth report of massing of forces of up to 300 fighters.  It is noteworthy that the insurgents were facing only Afghan National Security Forces and not U.S. troops, and it’s equally noteworthy that U.S. forces at Kamdesh and Wanat were never overrun.  But the tactic remains the same.  Taliban fighters like to fight asymmetrically by overpowering their foe.  They want a ten to one troop ratio or they won’t face down our forces in classical battle – or it would seem in this case, neither will they face down the ANP.

It’s also noteworthy that this is generally in the region of the Pech Valley, something that only The New York Times article mentions.  We are paying a high price for our abandonment of the Pech Valley, as the insurgents have safe haven, human terrain for recruitment, an area for R&R, and safe passage from one region to another.

Prior:

Taliban Massing of Forces category

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part III

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II

Abandoning the Pech Valley

Korengal Abandoned, Pech River Valley Still Problematic



  • http://bit.ly/FirstContact3 Warbucks

    A map of Pech Valley, for us geographically impaired:
    http://www.aims.org.af/maps/district/kunar/pech.pdf

  • bth

    Why are we unable to detect such large concentrations of Taliban in a timely and useful manner? I would think 300 men in the open is an AC130 crew’s dream.

  • Šťoural
  • Šťoural

    Look at map http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/02/25/world/25afghanmap.html?ref=asia

    Camp Blessing around 34°59’7.40″N 70°54’24.08″E (Google Earth)

  • DirtyMick

    Herschel I wanted to address something on this subject with you. Other issues that you have not addressed is the platoon size elements of Taliban that operate in Theater. Myself being an Iraq vet and my other buddies that I was recalled with, who are Iraq vets, from various units (1st Armor, 82nd Airborne, 1 Ranger Battalion) we were shocked on size of the taliban in Kunar. We got into a few fights in the Pech where we were engaging from our guntrucks sometimes an estimated 20 taliban positioned behind built up machine gun positions. The one that shocked us the most was North of Asadabad IVO of Chigal valley where were ambushed by an estimated 40-60 taliban last year. The initial Ambush was in Chigal valley (which was an RPG team and then a squad size element down the road) and then culminated when we hit main MSR heading back to Asadabad. On the MSR the pavement dips and turns into concrete (so runoff from the mountains can flow into the kunar river). They had positioned themselves defalate 25m off the road with RPGs then progressed from there up the mountain with more RPGs and Machine Gun teams. They timed it in that right when the vehicle it that concrete they shoot it with an RPG. Anyway to make a long story short we broke contact because of the withering RPG and machine gun fire and couldn’t dismount and manuever like we had done in the initial ambush in chigal and the fact that we had one WIA from an anti-tank RPG hit the RG31 turret. After the ambush we had thought we had gotten hit by a platoon or two plus size element of Taliban. It was confirmed a week later when we recieved intel on the issue. Anyway my point is it’s not just a rifle company or two size element trying to over run COPs but platoon plus numbers of Taliban attacking infantry and manuever elements operating in the AO. In the Infantry we like to fight the enemy with us out numbering them 3 to 1.

  • http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit BruceR

    So two members of the Afghan district leadership (in Kunduz and Nuristan) who couldn’t control their districts are now saying they were greatly outnumbered. Huh. What are the odds?

    Your estimate of Afghans as absolutely horrible soldiers and police, but absolutely reliable witnesses otherwise, is rather perplexing sometimes.

    Now, the two outpost attacks did have a similar TTP, even though the odds in both cases were more like 5:1, not 10:1. In attacking a defended outpost, we’d want similar odds if we could get them.

    Look, no question, if they want to try to seriously take down a defended U.S. outpost, they try to bring every gun they can spare. Common sense is not a tactic. What is a tactic is that this is still largely confined to the Eastern mountains, probably because the topography allows that kind of pre-attack massing. They couldn’t get away with it in the south, so they don’t try.

    As for Chahar Dara, that’s just the Germans in over their heads again… it was a standard IED-initiated patrol ambush as happens in the south every day or so, nothing fancy. Yeah, there might be 200 Taliban in the district as a whole, but they weren’t all necessary for that kind of simple attack, so I wouldn’t give the Afghan’s report too much credit. Casualties were heavy for the Germans, but not out of line with similar bad days for any of the armies working in the south. The one thing I thought was odd was the Germans said they couldn’t recover their own vehicle wreck, so they asked the Afghan security forces to destroy it for them. Hard to imagine any other country doing that, and this was only a few km out the gate from their major FOB, too.

  • Jean

    Camp Blessing next??

    There is good trail that leads right to Nagalam and Camp Blessing from Wanat, the road is on the other side of the Waygal Valley built in 2006, runs to Bella and bottom of the trail to the defunct Ranch House.

    COP Blessing was attacked in 2004, when it was still a ODA firebase supported by Marine leg infantry. The Taliban massed 200 fighters and over ran one OP.

    Consider the kidnapping of the ANP recruits last week in Chapa Dara last week ( East of Blessing ). Wonder if the ANSF still have presence in the that district??

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

    Thanks for the additional insight DirtyMick and Jean. Bruce, your post wants to be shocked, or outraged, or something, but you seem tired and to have gotten bored with your point. Your surprise (or shock?) seems a bit contrived.

    This isn’t the big deal you’re making of it. No one has asked me to catalog the quanitity of trust I have in any given ANSF unit or their report(s) of actions in the field. The answer would be as you suspect, not much in their abilities and reliability, probably somewhat more in their reports, and in a report that can be verified by intel such as this, probably a little more. But see, now I have gotten bored with the subject myself. I suggest that you write a post on this subject and see how long it can retain your interest.

    The main point is that the Taliban like to mass forces. Right? See how simple this is? Catalog an incident, couple it with other reports, and note trends. When they can’t mass forces, they like to fight asymmetrically in other ways, e.g., IEDs, kidnappings, etc.

    DirtyMick raises the bar of complexity a little more by discussing enfilade fires, ambushes, and other tactics in which they have the high ground (perhaps DirtyMick can elucidate his thoughts a little more on this).

    Bruce, massing forces, development of enfilade fires – these kind of things are tactics. Location is not. You seem tired?

  • Jean

    Shigal Ambush site- Dirty Mick

    Just a couple of comments from an old kunar vet on Shigal , that was old IED hot spot ( if I am thinking of the same place ( south Shigal ) Dost Mohammond’s # 2 lived back up in the valley, they kicked him out of Shigal proper. Platoon size elements were not uncommon in 2006-07. I think they were local talent supported by Packie ETT types that ran crew served weapons. Everymans is an RPGer. We used to see the RPG volleys followed by AK/PK fire. BTW 25MM is close, Damn

  • Šťoural

    The Empire Strikes Back,

    http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/joint-ansf-coalition-operations-maintain-security-in-pech-river-valley.html

    –Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces concluded operations March 27 in the Darah-Ye Pech District after clearing known insurgent fighters and providing security to the area.

    The combined force also took steps to restore the land that ANSF and coalition forces had been using for bases and observation posts prior to the realignment of forces in the Pech River Valley. These actions included the demolition of unnecessary structures and the removal of the debris.

    “There’s been a lot of talk in the media recently about what our realignment of forces will mean for security and for the future of law-abiding and hard-working Afghans in the Pech River Valley. Some have asked if we’ve abandoned the Pech – I think this operation answers that question,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joe Ryan, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Division, Task Force Bulldog commander. “The Afghan National Army successfully assumed control of Nangalam Base. The Afghan National Army, supported by the Coalition, continues to pursue insurgents in the Korengal and Shuryek Valleys. Peace will follow.”

    Hmm,Peace will follow

  • DirtyMick

    Sorry if my post was kind of scattershot and incoherent the other day it was late and I was worn out from school work. Let me elaborate…
    In the Pech they always engaged us IVO Matin village but it was always from across the Pech river (south side) so we couldn’t dismount and fire and manuever. The range was always 300m and farther from there. Postive Identification was always hard because they would always shoot at us from positions that had cover and concealment. So we always shot at avenues of approach, possible fighting positions, caves etc and cooridinate fires from COP Michigan or Able/Main (or honaker-miracle I can’t remember). In these contacts from the enemy it was always a two squad or more size element which brings me back to my original point… It shocked us a bit because in Iraq generally for the most part it was either IEDs or fireteams running around shooting at us. 101st tried fixing this problem by have preplanned fires so whenever units rolled through area all we had to do was get on the radio tell whatever battle space owner that we were rollin through and we’d get 120s and 155s hitting previous engagement areas.
    Now onto the next fight…
    Part of our duties and responsibilities with the PRT is we did QRF for the EOD detachment that was operating out of FOB Wright. So if they got the call for a possible IED they’d take one MRAP and we’d take 3 or 4. So we got a call for a Possible IED IVO the korengal valley. Just to note we only went in about a klick or two (essentially right where the korengal meets the pech). Elements from the 101st were there and the PL had set up security by putting a gun team up on an ANA OP to provide overwatch. As any typical road in kunar it was a one lane road on the side of the mountain with a bunch of MRAPs stacked up on it. The Possible IED was a hoax and it turned into a classic baited ambush. They initiated it by getting a direct hit on the OP (which essentially knocked out our overwatch for a portion of the firefight) with an RPG and followed it up mortars, RPGs, and machine gun fire (machine gun fire came from from 9 oclock and the 12 so they had interlocking fields) on all the trucks and dismounts on the road. This time they were shooting at us 500m plus from across the valley up on a mountain (at our 9 oclock) so if we tried to dismount and close with em they would have chewed us up and directly to our front (12) and they were 300m out up on a mountain essentially shooting down at us. So we bounded back to our vehicles and we returned fire and the PL from the 101st called in Arty from blessing, 2 500 pound bombs, and AH-64s. Mind you when all that combined combined arms hit them they were still slugging it out with us. In this case I would estimate it was a platoon size element that hit us from two sides.
    Jean- I got recalled from IRR to do Secfor for the PRT up in Kunar and we had to do a Road QA/QC in chigal where we got hit twice. 1st time a 14 year old initiated the ambush with a handgrenade then we got hit by an RPG team (they were 50m) and we the gun trucks suppress and dismounted to close with the enemy. When we were manuevering our PRT Commander came on the radio and said this wasn’t a hunting expedition and to get back to the trucks. So we mounted back up went another klick or two down the road and got hit with more machine gun and RPG fire. Fought through that. The final engagement was on MSR California a couple klicks north of hilltop 1311 was where we got slammed. The road is pavement and then every so often it dips and turns into concrete (so run off from the mountain can flow into the kunar river) and they were sitting defalade 25m off the road then up the mountain to about 300 plus with more machine gun and RPG teams. This is the fight where we estimate we got hit by 40-60 guys. When the first truck drove through the dip in the road it took a hit from an RPG and then the next truck after that took a direct hit to the gunner turret and essentially destroyed the turret (50. cal was detroyed, 240 blown to pieces, gunner just took shrapnel fortunately). That’s when we broke contact becuase of the over whelming fire. I had never seen anything like it. To be honest to this day I still don’t know how my whole section didn’t get wiped out. The intel we recieved a week later stated that some big whig in Pakistan had provided money to the taliban to buy weapons and that if they got an ANA killed on camera they would get a reward of 2500 dollars and 5000 dollars for an America. The grids we got for the possible ambush sites were the 3 exact places we got hit at. It also stated it would be a platoon or two platoon size element conducting this.
    Herschel- I have a ton of pictures from Kunar. If you would like I can email some to you so you can get an idea of what the terrain looks like in various parts of the AO.

  • Jean

    Dirty Mick-

    Wow, that place hasn’t changed much, except we left. I spent sometime in the Pech Valley- same old hot spots, the area west of Able Main ( we called it Combat Main ) was set up to over watch IED Cliff. CC was hit in Oct 2006. Classic massing attack, a preview for Kamdesh and Wanat. MOH performance by the company ISG, he l was later awarded the Silver Star.

    Shigal- I know that run off spot, it always gave me chills

    Overall, I don’t think the ANSF can hold the Pech. Brave guys, but the ANA isn’t local, mostly Tajiks and Heraz’s. Don’t think their Command and Control will hold up in the terrain.

    Glad you made it back.

  • Jim Harris

    A nagging question comes from reading this post and associated notes: Why are “their” Afghans seemingly better than “ours?”
    Do they recruit better?
    Train better?
    Better lead?
    Why do we get all the drug abusers and baby-rapers and they not (if that is true)?
    Their guys go to Sunday School more? ;-)
    What???

  • Jean

    Jim

    Great points. We are sitting on FOBs with the wrong force mix. Millions spent on high dollar projects vs small dollar projects that impact the locals. The only thing coming out of Kabul is the ANA, no backfill for projects/buildings that clutter the landscape, no honest government presence. Why did we think that a couple of our infantry company’s could influence the Pech. They did a great job in the clear phase of opns. But the fight became very personal. We have asked 18-19 year old Americans and Afghans soldiers to solve very complex problems.

    We made commitments in Operations Mountain Lion (2006) with elders/locals in the Pech, Shuryac, and Korengal Valleys, then we left scant coverage to back up promises. Our local support was murdered or forced to re locate

    To be frank, we just didn’t kill enough of the right ones and to many of the wrong ones. And left our new friends hanging out to dry or worse.

    Sad- 88 Americans gave their lives for some terrain that we have abandoned to the Taliban.

  • Sando

    Victory Point by Ed Darack details the Pech R. valley and surrounding areas. The last half of the book covers the efforts of 2nd Bn/3rd Marines in 2005 securing the area from the Taliban for the upcoming national elections. These brave Marines did an incredible job. It makes me sick to see that their effort appears to be in vain.

  • DirtyMick

    Thanks a lot Jean I appreciate brother.
    Sando- I’m actually reading victory point right. It’s an excellent book if you want to learn more about Kunar Province

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

    Thanks for everyone’s comments. DirtyMick, I intend to get up with you via e-mail. I’d like to get some of your pics.

  • http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit BruceR

    Herschel, you have two similar attacks on US outposts, which do indicate a tactic, and two completely unreliable and unrelated statements. To deduce a larger trend than the outpost attacks already indicated would be unwise.

    Here’s a tactic for you. Lots of districts in Afghanistan are guarded only by indifferently armed and motivated “police.” Just like in Vietnam, they trade ammunition and weapons to the insurgents for their continued existence. Every now and again, they run out of ammo to trade and go claiming to ISAF they had a big firefight and/or were run out of town by the insurgents. Can they have some more ammo please? Of course, none of this is confirmable with ISR or any other capability we have. We’ve sent the troops to the firefight locations, where not a casing could be found; flown drones over the district centres under siege that looked remarkably peaceful. And remarkably frequently, the number of insurgents in these stories is “200,” because it sounds big but not unbelievable. That’s your real insurgent tactic, and what I’d bet money your two ANSF-based stories above are just another two versions of. Outside of attacks on well-defended but poorly sited ISAF outposts in RC East, and the big fights in Helmand pre-2010 and Kandahar pre-2007, there is no massing of forces that size, and no targets to hit. You’re claiming a capability for the enemy that outside of a very narrow geographic area, they’re simply not capable of, or interested in, pursuing. They don’t need to.

    It’s like when M. Yon claimed we were a couple months from a coalition outpost being overrun in RC(South) because the Brits and Canadians were fighting the war so badly there. That was at the end of 2006. Still waiting.

  • http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit BruceR

    PS, if you want evaluation of the enemy’s likely tactics, I’ll stand on my own record, in posts like the one in Sept, 2009, where I wrote “Those troops in COP Keating are combat-ineffective. At best, they’re the equivalent of goats tied to stakes by tiger-hunters. The fact that they’re not on a FOB isn’t helping anyone.” That was two weeks before it was attacked with heavy casualties and abandoned: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/archives/2009_09_22.html#006540.

    And no, I beg to differ, “outnumbering the other guy”, as you wrote last April, does not qualify as a tactic. It’s what you do with those troops that constitutes tactical judgment. The Taliban’s “best hope” does not lie with “outnumbering their opponents” as you wrote once… they’re not Soviets or Zulus. Their best hope lies in minimizing their own casualties (which in our own reporting has been generally exaggerated compared to the number of actual enemy casualties seen or found) and demoralizing/outlasting us, and that’s exactly what all their TTPs are aimed at. In general terms, they don’t risk large bodies of troops anymore except in high-payoff, low-risk situations, which is practically the opposite of your assessment here.

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

    Bruce you’re getting puckered about this and it’s becoming somewhat of a nuisance. I didn’t cast aspersions on anything you wrote, and didn’t invoke any post you made. I didn’t base my trend on any one incident, but as many as seven or eight. And yes, I stand by what I have said regarding massing of forces. It’s as much of a tactic as say, squad rushes or development of enfilade fires. If you would like to disagree, then do so, but saying it a hundred times doesn’t erase disagreement or make the point any more or less important than it is on its face. I’m not really sure what your problem is, or if you expect me to disagree with your view of the ANSF as largely incompetent (after reading my views, do you really expect me to argue with you?).

  • DirtyMick

    I can give you a good idea of massing of bad guys. 327 did a battalion assualt I think it was approx june or july of last year into the marawara district to retake the ghaki pass which lead into pakistan. which is just north of A-bad. Over the course of 5 days of fighting 327 plus other assests had killed around 200 bad guys (majority was the first day or two of fighting) and captured I believe 70. What I found interesting here is that when the Army or the Corp advertises these assualts into built up areas the bad guys usually fall back and live to fight another day. This time around they were dug in and essentially fought to the death. Here’s the article about the fight… http://www.stripes.com/a-nervous-night-then-a-brutal-battle-in-unrelenting-summer-heat-1.118593
    Herschel, It doesn’t give specific numbers but I’m certian what I stated above is how many Taliban were out there. I can tell you there was so much fighting the first day that we cleaned out most of the PRTs ASP to give ammo to 327, loaded water, worked the flight line helping offload wounded, and the FAARP at Camp Wright went black on ammo for the AH-64s and OH-58s. They also had stacked rotary wing and fixed assets on station all day. So you can chalk that above operation right there with the Battle of Wanat, COP Keating, COP Bari-Ali, The battle in Ganjagal Oct 09 (with the Marine ETT Team) etc. These are all battles that happened in Kunar/Nuristan in the span of a 2 year period. So if you want to think about it in military terms there is most likely a brigade size of Taliban element operating IVO of Nuristan and Kunar. The only difference here was 2/327 going into Marawara to smoke those bastards as opposed to the other way around which it has been the case in the past.
    So for BruceR to say massing of forces is either not a tactic or not something that happens is false

  • Šťoural

    Marawara&2-327th AIR today,

    http://grendelreport.posterous.com/6-us-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan-firefight

    Six U.S. soldiers were killed in action and at least 15 others wounded in Afghanistan earlier this week when they came under fire while on patrol in a remote and dangerous region close to the Pakistan border.

    ABC News’ Mike Boettcher was accompanying the soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division when the attack occurred in Kunar Province on March 29. They were patrolling close to the border when they were fired upon from three sides by Taliban fighters.

    The troops were on a mission to show force in an area where the U.S. largely has abandoned small bases.

    The heavy firefight lasted hours, with the U.S. soldiers and Afghan forces digging into a muddy hillside.

    According to Boettcher, the Americans and Afghans killed some 50 Taliban fighters and destroyed a Taliban radio headquarters.

    When the fighting ended, six American soldiers and one Afghan soldier were dead, with 15 others wounded.

    At least seven Medevac helicopters were flown in to rush the casualties to treatment. The operation, called Strong Eagle III, is still ongoing, according to Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in a video teleconference from Afghanistan Thursday.

  • Jean

    Dirty Mick

    Did you know that the Russians lost a company in the Gaki pass. There are old Russian ops across the river from Camp Wright, going down the ridgeline from OP Nevada ( Not sure what they call it now) Local Talent did several Mass attacks on OP Nevada in 2005/06 but were discouraged by Big Guns. I am surprized that Marawara has gotten so bad, we didn’t have any sigfincant issues in that AO. Must be staging out of Bajur. I think the Pakkie offensive in south pushed some more fighters north. We could clear those Pakkie ( Bajur ) districts with one Brigade. They are above ground and operating in the open. No substitute for military victory.

  • DirtyMick

    Jean,
    I knew that with the russians. OP nevada is still called that and it got hit several times last summer. Taliban actually got into the perimeter and captured a couple ana and destroyed the ASP with an RPG. Currently the taliban control or operate freely in kunar west of abad in the Pech and Korengal (obviously) and in my opinion (i could be wrong) every thing between abad and COP monti. With the exception of the chowkay area, and COPs Fortress,Joyce, and Badel getting probed all the time south of asadabad was somewhat quiet in comparison to the rest of the AO but that’s going to change now since the Taliban control all the key areas that I stated above. Then it will flow into the Nangahar. Also take into affect the incompetence of the PRT in charge Camp Wright (it’s gotten worse from what I’ve heard through the grapevine) and Kunar is looking pretty bad.

  • Jean

    Dirty Mick:

    The PRT has to sync its effort with battle space owners and, that has always been an issue. Not much point in having an Navy Sub driver or helicopter commanding a quasi- Army unit at the tip of the spear ( thats another conversation).

    We did some dismounted patroling behind Camp Wright, that back door is not secure. I am surprized they are able to sustain Naray. The MSR is very fagile. The area north ASMAR is nightmare terrain for any kind of convoy. Burnt jingle truck s littered the road.The CAV was too lazy to move the debris. That would have never flown in Iraq. We called it Gun Run Canyon. Lost some ETTs in 2007/08. Two gun truck convoy, ANA bugged out- three US KIA. All National Gaurd. Stupid

  • Jean

    Dirty Mick,

    How big a force do you think they have roaming around Kunar/Nuristan ? I think they use a heavy mix of local talent. Also that unit running around Nuristan took a big hit staging for an attack at Kalagush.
    Camp Wright had better start considering some priorities of work besides hitting the chow hall (Sorry couldn’t resist that comment) we did some extensive patrolling behind the FOB, including local engagements. It’s not the protective wall that everyone thinks it is. You can gain access to the back of the FOB from the Pech Valley. We climbed Widows Peaks in 2007 (Highest terrain behind the FOB) you can see the Pech valley.

    Jean

  • DirtyMick

    Jean,
    In terms of a force running around Kunar/Nuristan I’d say most element consists of locals and foriegn fighters that are maybe a command and control element. That story I relayed above where we got hit in chigal was what we found out later was a mix of Locals and Pakistanis. I mean if you look at all the activity over the past few years at Wanat, COP Keating, 327s battalion assualt over the summer, units on mission coming into contact with platoon size elements etc. I’d say a couple battalions of taliban or a Brigade at the least. Do I think they’re all actively fighting americans? No, but a lot of these could just get itchy one day and get a weapon and try to kill americans
    I can tell you personally my other recall buddies (about 70 of em) were spread out over Nuristan and Laghman with CT guard last year and where they saw the most contact was Kalagush and COP Nagil on the Laghman/Kunar border. I had couple buddies tell me they hit Nagil with a platoon size element a few times.
    Here’s the thing with Camp Wright. It’s a navy run FOB and I’ve addressed this before on the Captain’s Journal. You have incompetence (Navy chain of command) combined with either a shorthanded SecFor (NV Guard) or an FA Unit (not a manuever element) from PA that were very cherry (they unfucked themselves for the most part once they saw what kunar was like) and not in physically good shape (I was with NV from December 09 to March 2010 and Pa from March to end of sept 2010). There was no patrolling on the backside of the FOB. We did one patrol past OP bullrun the whole time I was there by what you would call the widows peak (we called it peak 2) The idea was floated to do 3 day r and s patrols out there but I passed up to my chain of command that it was a bad idea because A. The secfor does not know how to patrol B. We have no QRF besides the afghan commandoes (they would have to hump to get us) C. They physically couldn’t do it. and the way they wanted us to execute it was pretty outrageous in my opinion. They wanted us to hump up during the day, refit at OP Bullrun and keep humping. I’m not sounding like a pussy but if we’re doing a 3 day patrol, from what I learned when I was at Campbell, you take enough supplies for 5 days. By the time we got set I believe we would’ve been combat innaffective with all the gear we would be taking and the terrain. I advocated a helo night insert and to use 327 not our secfor (because of the reasons stated above). In terms of the villages behind Wright…There was no engagements with wach now village behind the FOB while I was there that I can recall.
    OP Bullrun was also an issue with us due it’s remote location. It was essentially stand and fight in a death trap and depend on fires. There was no real QRF plan (with the exception of drive the trucks up as close as possible and hit the mountain) if we got hit enmasse which we always feared. OP Bullrun did get hit 3 times this deployment but they were not too bad. A couple RPGs and Machine gun fire.
    FOB Wright security is still piss poor. It’s due mostly to the complacency of the command on the FOB. They have this idea that other FOBs get slammed all the time but it won’t happen to camp wright. When we took a lot of indirect during the summer and if the blimp saw something suspicious some of us in the Secfor always adovacated spinning up trucks and going to check that area out but it was always shot down and the reason why was “Well by the time you get there they’ll be gone anyway” That’s not the point, have an aggressive posture because haji is always watching if they think your soft they’ll hit you hard which leads me to my next point…
    After PA Guard RIPd out in November 2010 MA Guard and the new PRT took over. Well the New PRT pulled all Americans off both OPs and they’re ANA only. Which in my opinion led to this… http://www.casttv.com/video/j7x0zdf/raw-video-attack-on-us-base-in-afghanistan-video 9 MRAPs and a 155m gun were destroyed

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Fighting in Barawala Kalet

  • Jean

    We did several patrols in conjunction with the Afghan commandos; we climbed the hill behind OP Shiloh, 5 hours from OP Shiloh to the top. Of course we found a shorter way back, also, found some their OPs or hides. Definite indicators that bad guys could put eyes on us when they wanted. We started patrolling to the west of Shiloh. SECFOR tripped up a single mover trying to lay 107mm in with a timer. Stupid ROE prevented an easy engagement ( may have been poor markmanship, there is a fine line between an AAR and a war story. The key to locking that back door is local engagements and patroling.
    I can’t believe they have surrendored opcon of the OPs, they were very effective FO platforms. But was pre balloon. We had issues commincating with Nevada. Can’t imagine it being any different with the other two Ops. The Marines had interesting base defensive plan in 2005 called the “Francias”, if we catch you looking at the FOB with optics, we will kill you.

    Our PRT CDR was ok, except he once got out of HUMMV at Matin to watch a firefight.

    History repeats itself the FARP blew 2006, but the blivets were smaller. Those guys need to read their history. The Russians lost their FOB in last war. OPs were overrun. Russian did a Brigade size op in Chigal Valley, Airmobile into back end and mech forces in the front. Those guys had some guts.

  • Šťoural

    New skills Taliban:
    a)Long Range Sniper Rifle
    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63382
    – Security forces found several weapons and drug stockpiles throughout Afghanistan. Operations resulted in seizure of 5,250 assault-rifle rounds, 5,000 .50-caliber machine-gun rounds, 1,650 pounds of explosives, 200 hand grenades, 150 pounds of homemade explosives, 21 rocket-propelled grenades, 15 Afghan army uniforms, 13 mortar rounds, 12 land mines, eight anti-tank mines, four rocket-propelled grenade boosters, four .50-caliber sniper rifles, three explosive devices, two assault rifles and assorted bomb-making materials. Troops also found 1,200 pounds of cannabis resin and 800 pounds of hashish.

    b)Company size(rein.) night attack-HQN
    http://www.army.mil/-news/2010/12/11/49309-the-defense-of-cop-margah-a-story-of-valor/

    c)Artillery fire support(I don’t mean mortar)
    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63101
    GEN.Campbell explained.
    “We do not cross the border,” he said, adding that in many cases,
    artillery or mortar rounds coming from insurgents on the Pakistan side of the border are targeted by Pakistani forces, based on coalition coordination.

    Cross-border indirect fire has increased in recent weeks, Campbell said.

    “Based on the number of incidents when [the enemy is] throwing artillery, they’re trying to clear the way so they can bring more people over,” Campbell said. “I think [the enemy is] frustrated, because [Afghan security forces], along with the coalition forces have really identified, now, the places they can come in through.”

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Taliban Massing of Forces Part IV


You are currently reading "Taliban Massing of Forces Part III", entry #6653 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Pech River Valley,Taliban Massing of Forces and was published March 29th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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