New details emerge about complex attack on FOB Salerno


SalernoPX560.jpg

The Post Exchange (PX) and other buildings were damaged in the attack on Forward Operating Base Salerno.

New details have emerged regarding last week's Taliban attack on Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, Afghanistan. Although the insurgents were repelled by US and Afghan government forces, the bombing was more significant than implied by initial reports, and had the potential to inflict greater casualties.

Initial summaries of the complex attack indicated that members of the Taliban, including several individuals wearing suicide vests, had launched a coordinated assault that breached the perimeter of the American facility. A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the base's fence, and attackers entered through the gap. The insurgents were then "neutralized" by US and Afghan forces, according to a Regional Command - East spokesman. Fourteen militants were killed in the assault. International Security Forces (ISAF) personnel were initially reported to have "suffered minor wounds", but none were killed during the attack. One soldier died three days later from wounds suffered during the incident, however.

Photos of the aftermath show considerable damage, including caved in roofs of the base's large dining facility (DFAC) and post exchange (PX). An RC-East spokesman has specified that the damage to the facilities was a result of the large blast wave from the initial car bomb.

"The insurgents only made it roughly 50-60 meters inside the FOB before they were engaged and taken down," explained the military spokesman. "The damage the DFAC and PX sustained [were] from the concussion of the blast," which was estimated to include 1,500-2,000 pounds of explosives.

In addition, the RC East spokesman revealed that the attackers were wearing uniforms of both the Afghan National Security Forces and the US Army. The spokesman also stated that seven civilians were killed, all of them inside the wire, on the premises of the base.

FOB Salerno is the largest base in southeastern Afghanistan - it is highly fortified, and hosts extensive surveillance assets and a US rotary wing task force.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attack immediately afterward, in a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad. The Taliban followed up the initial claim with a more detailed account, which was released on Voice of Jihad on June 8.

According to the more detailed Taliban account, the suicide bomber was named Mawlawi Sahib Shamsullah, and he was "a resident of Paktia" who "sacrificed his luxurious life in Khaleej [the Persian Gulf], a thriving business, bounties of the world and the love of his 4 children for Allah." Shamsullah was chosen because he "was familiar with the surrounding area."

The Taliban said that the bomber "drove his explosive packed vehicle with absolute assurance right up to the American base and detonated it at the appropriate time." The terror group claimed that the "nearly ten ton explosion completely flattened the enemy facilities in which the American invaders were feeding, set several areas on fire and completely destroyed a transport airplane which had parked nearby only a few moments before the blast." ISAF did not report the damage or destruction of an aircraft in the attack, nor has this been reported in other media accounts. The Taliban routinely exaggerate the effects of their attacks.

The names and home provinces of the 10 members of the suicide assault team who followed the blast and breached the wire were included in the statement.

"Simultaneously after the blast, the ten armed martyrdom seekers (Azeem Khan from Paktia; Ateequllah, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ya'qub, Ibraheemi and Kareemullah from Ghazni province's Gilan district; Zabihullah Shabir from Ghazni's Maqur district; Hafiz Saifullah from Paktika's Khushamand; Amdadullah from Paktika's Wazikhwa; Abdullah from Nangarhar and Abdur Raheem from Logar) who had arrived at the scene in a mini van, set fire to their vehicle and zealously entered the American base."

The Taliban claimed the "enemy [was] in compete disarray after suffering heavy losses from the blast," and that the suicide assault team fought for nearly three hours and killed "hundreds of American soldiers." As part of their propaganda campaign, the Taliban claim that scores of US and NATO troops are killed daily.

While the Taliban claimed credit for the attack on FOB Salerno, it was likely executed by the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is linked to al Qaeda and which operates extensively in Khost province. The Haqqani Network rarely produces propaganda tapes and allows Voice of Jihad to highlight the group's attacks. The Haqqani Network has launched multiple complex attacks on US and Afghan bases in Khost and neighboring Paktia and Paktika provinces.

SalernoDFAC560.jpg

FOB Salerno's dining facility (DFAC) was damaged by the shockwave from a suicide vehicle-borne IED detonated at the perimeter of the base..

Note: This article was amended with updated casualty information. Nature of the vehicle updated as ambiguous due to conflicting reports.

UPDATE: Casualties now stand at 14 insurgents, 2 US troops and 5 Afghan civilians killed and over 100 US troops with 'minor injuries,' according to a Washington Post report on June 16th.



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READER COMMENTS: "New details emerge about complex attack on FOB Salerno"

Posted by captainjohann at June 10, 2012 1:14 AM ET:

Now days the Taliban account seems to tell the truth more than the official ISAF version. This has to be looked into by the ISAF.

Posted by LPD-RI at June 10, 2012 1:30 AM ET:

Unfortunately the claim that ISAF personnel suffered 'minor wounds' is not true.

This is copied from the Department of Defense site:

"Pfc. Vincent J. Ellis, 22, of Tokyo, Japan, died June 4, in Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered June 1, on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska."

My condolences to Private Ellis' family, and all the others that have lost loved ones in this struggle against evil.

Posted by Rojah at June 10, 2012 3:32 AM ET:

So the Taliban inflates its numbers of casulties inflected, and the US Gov deflates its numbers in the press. SMH.

Posted by JDAM at June 10, 2012 7:38 AM ET:

When is someone or some team gonna put those Haqqani folks through the meat ginder for good. Based on this latest intel, thank Allah we didn't have any KIA. We need to put these animals down hard, I am talking FUBAR. After the CIA lost 7 to these turds you'd think we'd be all intel and strike packages on there sorry butts 24/7. Instead they manage to tap us again and again with, what seems to be, impunity. CIA where are you? Still gloating about Bin Laden sleeping with the fishes?

Posted by gb at June 10, 2012 9:02 AM ET:

Bill, it seems at least based on the sheer number of news reports that the haqqani tribe is resposible for the majority of the action against isaf troops. I hope the senior war fighters are planning on eradicating this tribe on the way out of this theater of operations.

Posted by Nic at June 10, 2012 9:29 AM ET:

"A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives"

" The terror group claimed that the "nearly ten ton explosion completely flattened the enemy facilities."

Would someone in LWJ Land please provide a list of cars that are capable of carrying "nearly ten" tons. And please, no gag responses like "A VW Beetle with a Mack truck suspension" or "A Mini Coupe with tank treads."

Posted by Circle C at June 10, 2012 10:29 PM ET:

ISAF is accurate. It clearly states minor injuries with the exception of one soldier who passed away later(RIP).

The Taliban is retarded, last time they did an offensive on that base they tried to blow up our bases fuel pouch but they hit the water pouches instead. *bravo*

I used to eat in that building, thank god it wasn't during chow time.

Posted by hello1 at June 10, 2012 11:52 PM ET:

what were civilians doing at the base?

Posted by Seelahno at June 11, 2012 12:36 AM ET:

I have yet to see a TB report/claim that is more accurate than our own. Numbers of ISAF casualties are ALWAYS grossly inflated and reflect optimistic speculation more than anything else. "Hundreds of American soldiers"? Does anybody really believe the US could cover that up? How about "scores of US and NATO troops" being killed daily? Ask anyone that's done some time over there, they'll tell you. The last time "scores" of ISAF troops were killed daily in Astan was...well...never.

Posted by LPD-RI at June 11, 2012 2:14 PM ET:

"ISAF is accurate. It clearly states minor injuries with the exception of one soldier who passed away later(RIP)."

No, ISAF stated (following the attack) that the American soldiers only suffered 'minor wounds'. A soldier does not die from 'minor wounds'.

Posted by Dylan Graham at June 11, 2012 3:36 PM ET:

The reason there were civilians on the base is due to the military contracting third country nationals to fill jobs in order to cook, clean, take care of laundry and other misc jobs.

Posted by Larry at June 11, 2012 4:28 PM ET:

Sorry to hear this happened. I have a nephew there and certainly don't want him to harmed or any other soldier there, but this IS war folks. And it IS an election year for the Democrats. The media outlets are in the tank for Obama and will NOT report any "bad press". It has been months since any negative pics or stories about the war other than death numbers have been shown. Let's don't remind folks what a mess we're in.

Posted by Rogg Gollibo at June 12, 2012 2:07 AM ET:

Circle C,

"Taliban is retarded?" Statements like this clearly underestimate an enemy. Whether luck, skill, or however wars are won, they've put up a fight for 10 years now with major setbacks to low level, and senior level members.

While we (US) has gotten better at guerilla warfare, and are coming to terms fighting with them. The Mujihadeen vs the Russians, as well as AQI/ISI in Iraq perfected the skillset.

Major attacks like these, are no 9/11 but take time, planning, and when they knock a hole in the wall, kill/injure CF, and take down buildings that is a decent attack from a skilled oponent.

-Im not hyping up Haqqani/Taliban/HIG or whoever did it, but to juts throw out that were fighting against a JV team of ragtags, is putting the densives down. Which IMO we are far from.

Posted by L Camacho at June 12, 2012 11:14 PM ET:

My husband works at this base as a plumber. We are from Texas. I'm so thankful he was at home with me on vacation while this happened. He is on his way back over there now.

Posted by 13tiimes at June 13, 2012 2:42 AM ET:

The Post Exchange was destroyed, not damaged. The wall framing failed in sections and roof trusses then collapsed on sections of still-standing wall plate/headers.


Stay safe and good luck.

Posted by paulied at June 17, 2012 1:12 PM ET:

Hi Bills,

There was a write up in the Washington Post today regarding this attack. Nice to see you guys get it out first.

Posted by SFC Marc Sr at June 18, 2012 3:36 PM ET:

I hope they did not take out the Flat bread shop or the orange grove. I would love to load up and head over on "vacation" to see if my .308 LAR can hit 1000M there also. Of course I would bring my own BB's. I would love to be standing next to their "Allah" when these blown apart glory hounds show up to claim their 70 virgins. My son is there, I was in 08. Keep up the good work only a Soldier can do. Never mind the press, they lie anyway they print it. Those there knoiw the truth. Remember Soldiers, election time nears, PLEASE VOTE!!!!!! God Bless and be safe.

Posted by SGT Parra at June 22, 2012 3:56 PM ET:

I was stationed there in 2010-2011, we got attacked back then to the point of calling for fire rain ( c-130s) and special forces around the perimeter, this is not the 1st time this happens , de difference is the unit that r out there r not completly combat unit like we were back then.

3rd Brigade combat Team.
RAKKASANS
101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION

Posted by Me! at June 28, 2012 7:12 AM ET:

What were civilians doing at the base? Uhhh wake up, not ONLY military are over here... theres more civilians and contractors than there are military is this country. And BTW... It was around chow time... hence why they were fought off....

Posted by jay at July 7, 2012 11:12 AM ET:

Being a Contractor based out of FOB Salerno, it’s funny that they left out the U.S. Contractors that were hurt and killed.
The story is not complete and have to say the Taliban version has more details that were or are closer to what happened here.
This is my third year out here and what do you know, they finally secure the fence line where they have come through twice before.... and the units out here did a great Job of stopping them once they were through the wire...but it should have never happened.
As for the Damage it’s still only slightly listed, most of the living areas have plywood windows and doors because they cannot repair all the damage done throughout base, as for the issue on the Plane...Right what plane? Also it was a truck that hit the Wire.
You want the truth ask the U.S. Contractors to post their pictures of the attack it’s a lot more telling than what you see here… Just like fast & Furious the truth will not be told by Obama’s Group, but now that Afghanistan is a NON NATO partner (preferred Status) all will be good. I hear Bagram is now a Duty station, straight out of basic training and you can be sent there just like they used to send troops to Europe. But it’s all Good they changed Bagram‘s status to a Garrison last week

Posted by Adam at July 8, 2012 11:08 PM ET:

Wow.. I left there in Janurary 2012.. Feel bad for the guys who were there during this, never expected anything like that before