4 years, 10 months ago
No one could report as clearly as Tim Lynch on the recent attacks in Jalalabad.
Last Wednesday morning the local Taliban sent eight guys to attack the US Army base at Jalalabad Airfield known as FOB Fenty. They initiated the attack with a car bomb in a rarely used entry point on the southeastern side of the airfield which is well away from the Torkham to Jalalabad road. The remaining attackers tried to bum rush the damaged gate and got shot all to hell by the American soldiers who man the guard towers. Adding insult to injury there just happened to be a section of fully armed and fueled Apaches in the air and they were instantly able to pounce on the survivors of the futile charge at the damaged gate as they fled back towards a small village called Moqamkhan. A joint force of ANA and 101st Paratroopers went into the village and finished off the survivors in a short fire fight. FOB Fenty was back to normal by noon but the attack did generate plenty of news which may have been the point.
The Washington Post reported that:
Earlier Wednesday, insurgents detonated a car bomb outside the gate of an air base that serves as a NATO military hub in eastern Afghanistan and engaged in a gun battle with guards in the latest unsuccessful attempt by militants to penetrate a military compound.
At least eight suspected militants were slain in the attack on Jalalabad air base, Afghan officials said. The Taliban asserted responsibility for the operation, the Associated Press reported.
After the initial blast, NATO officials said, insurgents attacked the base’s guards with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, wounding two.
NATO officials said the air base’s perimeter was not breached. “Afghan and coalition forces are always prepared to deal with attacks on this facility,” Maj. Mary Constantino, a NATO spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The response this morning was immediate.”
It would be good to get some clarification on this. My contact (a contractor in Jalalabad) says that the outermost perimeter, manned by ANA, was indeed breached, but the U.S. forces responded quickly and didn’t allow incursions into the FOB (i.e., the inner security wasn’t breached). Either way, Tim continues:
The attack on FOB Fenty has had zero impact on the local citizens or the troops stationed on the FOB – it was stupid and recognized as such. But Jalalabad has had a series of IED attacks in the Safi Bazaar which is in the main downtown area. The word on the street is that these are bombing targeting “un-Islamic” stores but they have hit cell phone stores and a juice bar which clearly fall within the definition of being properly Islamic. These attacks are very concerning but to date none of the local security offices have been able to turn up a night letter. This area of the bazaar has had its share of problems over the past few years with several firefights breaking out between vendors with the local ANP joining in for good measure. This could be score settling or the Taliban may feel strong enough to operate in openly in Jalalabad (which I doubt.)
I agree with Tim, and it isn’t clear to me what the insurgents were trying to accomplish. There wasn’t any possibility of overrunning FOB Fenty. Enemy tactics include massing of forces when they are attacking much smaller outposts. Tim ends with an interesting and heartening account of the goings-on in Jalalabad.
Right now things are not looking too cool in Jbad for us internationals but there could be change afoot. Lost in all the news surrounding the appointment of Gen Petraeus is the amazing (one sided) fights which have been happening in both Kunar and Nuristan Provinces. Last week the troops stationed at the Nuristan PRT in Kala Gush spent several hours watching video feed of some 200 fighters climbing the mountain to the west of them in order to stage a massive attack. Or something. By the time these guys had humped all the heavy guns, mortars, rockets, ammo, etc… up the mountain there were B1’s stacked above them with 2000 lbs JDAMS. Talk about an ass whooping – these kind of attacks really piss off the local tribes because their young men join the fighters and losing young men for nothing is not covered in any part of the Pashtunwali code.
Good. As long as we are aggressively chasing and killing the enemy, we are doing what I have advocated. We can do more, but we can’t do any less than that and win. The best place to kill them is away from the population. When they invite us to do so, we must oblige.