Two soldiers have been reported as missing in Kabul, while Afghan and Coalition forces are actively hunting a Taliban network that was set up to conduct attacks in the capital and in surrounding regions.
In a press release issued today, the International Security Assistance Force reported the soldiers have been missing out of contact with their unit since Friday.
“Two International Security Assistance Force servicemembers departed their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle on Friday afternoon and did not return,” ISAF stated in a press release. “The unit dispatched vehicles and rotary-winged assets to search for them and their vehicle, and the search is ongoing.”
ISAF did not say whether the missing US soldiers were captured by the Taliban. But told Reuters that they had captured three soldiers but one soldier “had died.”
For more than a year, another soldier, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, has been in Taliban captivity. He was captured by the Haqqani Network in June 2009 after leaving his small combat outpost in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. In early April of this year, the Taliban released a propaganda tape showing Bergdahl.
The recent disappearance of the two soldiers in Kabul has coincided with an increased tempo of operations by ISAF and Afghan forces against the Kabul Attack Network, which is composed of members of the Haqqani Network and the conventional Taliban and is aided by the Hizb-i-Islami, or HIG.
Since July 14, Afghan and Coalition forces have captured four Taliban facilitators and a “Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin/Taliban-associated attack planner” during four separate raids in Kabul and the surrounding areas, according to International Security Assistance Force press releases.
The Kabul Attack Network sought unsuccessfully to disrupt last week’s Kabul Conference, and the network continues to conduct attacks in the area. On July 18, the Kabul Attack Network was behind two suicide attacks. One attack killed four Afghan civilians in a suicide bombing near a medical clinic in Kabul. The other suicide attack, which failed, took place outside Bagram in Parwan province; the attacker was from Paktika province, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network. Two months ago, the terror network executed the May 18 suicide attack in Kabul that killed a US colonel and a Canadian colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two US soldiers, and 12 Afghan civilians.
Taliban commanders Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad lead the Kabul Attack Network, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The terror group is supported by the Haqqani Network, which plays a major role in the Taliban’s operations in and around Kabul.
“The Haqqani Network is deeply entrenched in the Kabul Attack Network specifically with the facilitation of weapons and fighters into the area south of Kabul in Logar and Wardak provinces,” an ISAF public affairs official told The Long War Journal.
Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well.
“The intelligence service of our neighboring country has definitely had its role in equipping and training of this group,” Saeed Ansari, the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, said on May 24.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have been documented as backing the Taliban and the Haqqani Network faction. The Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s executive council, is based in Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan, while the Haqqani Network operates from Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. [See LWJ report “Pakistan’s Jihad” and Threat Matrix report “Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban” for additional information on the ISI’s complicity in attacks in Afghanistan and the region.]
• ISAF Servicemembers missing, ISAF press release
• Taliban say 2 U.S. soldiers captured in Afghanistan, Reuters
• Taliban release video of captive US soldier, The Long War Journal
• Kabul Attack Network-associated Attack Planner Captured in Kabul, ISAF press release
• Afghan and Coalition Force Captures Taliban Facilitator in Kabul, ISAF press release
• Insurgents Captured, Killed in Kabul, Kandahar and Zabul Provinces, ISAF press release
• IJC Operational Update, July 15, ISAF press release
• Haqqani Network executed Kabul suicide attack, The Long War Journal
• Toll in Kabul Suicide Attack Included U.S. and Canadian Officers, The New York Times
• Taliban suicide bomber kills 18 in Kabul, The Long War Journal
• Pakistan’s Jihad, The Long War Journal
• Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban, Threat Matrix
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So it “drones” on and on (Pun definitely intended). Everywhere one looks one sees the footprint of Pakistan’s ISI. I know I am not the only one totally sick over this game our Country is permitting Pakistan to play with us whilst our brave young men and even women are either killed outright, maimed beyond recognition, or taken POW.
I hope Others, equally sick at heart over this insidious hypocrisy in which our Government is engaging, even if well-intended (which I believe it is, but wrong-headed nonetheless), would add their comments. I do believe LWJ gets the attention of those in charge.
One more observation . . . With this pre-planned withdrawal thing, whether it be 2011 or 2014, what do we do about our POWs? Just leave ’em there?
Good Luck! to any volunteer military recruiter trying to drum up business for that brand!
Strategically, we should be aligned and coordinating with India. Pakistan has proven time and again that they are our enemies and should be dealt with as enemies of the US have historically: the application of overwhelming firepower, destruction of entire cities if need be. JRB, you are entirely correct, the elites are spending the lives of our soldiers to no good end, as far as I can see.
I guess I’m too old to understand the mentality of 18-20-somethings, because for the life of me, the notion of leaving a secure base in a humvee with only two other people in the middle of a place like Afghanistan strikes me as just plain STUPID.
IMO there needs to be a lot better oversight of some these young bucks who seem to think they are indestructible. Some sergeant needs to be called into account for this little adventure.
It’s simple math, the US has over 300 million people. That’s a massive manpower pool to recruit volunteers. Von Clausowitz clearly stated that any nation can field 10% of total population for war, that’s young, healthy, and historically male. That last metric has changed. He also states that war is an extention of foreign policy. We can maintain a small presence in Afghanistan indefinately if there is political will. The present situation overseas presents an excellent opportunity for young people to “test their metal” in a combat environment with relatively low risk of bodily harm. This is what the difference is between today and wars of the past. It is a volunteer force. These brave people know what they are signing-up for, and we should be grateful for their commitment. We have to to give them our full support, there will always be objections to overseas deployments.
In time of War, especially an existential war like the one we are now involved in, military service should not be a career choice, but an obligation of Citizenship. It disturbs me whenever I hear, with respect to our volunteer military, words to the effect that “they knew what they were getting into when they signed on”. It’s as though that fact absolves the rest of us from demanding of our Government that we win the wars we enter rather than seek out some kind of equilibrium of acceptable or tolerable loss in blood & treasure.
@Max: where does it say they’re 20ish SPEC/PFC? One of the descriptions is for a bald male. Probably not a 20 somethings. Or that they wandered off base (in a signed out HMV?) More likely one of: Civil affairs? SF? Mil Intel?
So you want to cut through all the nonsense and go straight to war with a nuclear armed nation with 170 million people. I can’t imagine why our political leadership would want to avoid such a confrontation.
I remember about a month after 9/11 one of the initial poles of the Pakistani people asked what they thought of the 9/11 attack. Somewhere around 70 percent of Pakistani’s thought the United States got what it deserved. Open support for 9/11 was less, at around 30 percent. I guess some Pakistani’s knew there was going to be trouble. I remember thinking at the time that we would be lucky to get in to Afghanistan let alone control the place. We did not directly invade. We used air power and special forces to aid the Northern Alliance in overthrowing the Taliban. The supply route through Pakistan was only established after the Taliban was initially routed.
There aren’t many good things about this war, but one good thing is we have been able to maintain Pakistan as a nominal ally, and we have kept them in play for almost a decade now. The Pakistani population still hates us but they now hate the Taliban almost as much. Much of the Pashtoon population hates the Taliban even more than us but a loath to resist.
Ok you got me that they probably aren’t twenty-somethings, but the STUPID label still fits. Somebody needs their butt kicked with some serious NJP, and that includes the survivor, IF he manages to return alive.
From late reports the missing (one KIA) men were Navy personnel. Since they were in Kabul, not in Helmand with the Marines as Corpsmen, they may have been assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team. My prayers are with them.
I agree with Victor, we need to use India to put pressure on Pakistan, create two fronts for the ISI to deal with, NATO on one side and India on the other, in return we can give the Indian Army better training and equipment to deal with their own interior struggles.
If the ISI are too busy getting worried about Indian intentions in Kashmir it could possibly give the Coalition forces the breathing space to deal with the Afghani Taliban without a deluge of Pakistanis coming in, then when they have that relatively in control they can concentrate on keeping the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan!
Of course easier said than done, I’m sure anyone in the know would shoot this down straight away but this is my relatively uninformed opinion.
No, I do not advocate going straight to war with a nuclear-armed nation. Pakistan’s democratically elected government is held hostage by ISI. And, probably, many high-ranking Pakistani Army Officers would love to see ISI get its comeuppance.
We should hit ISI wherever we can locate it while simultaneously declaring the Waziristans as a geographic region no longer under effective Pakistani control. We then would be at liberty to go into the Waziristans to root out whatever Taliban/AQ we can there find that haven’t already slipped deeper into Pakistan proper to avoid the drone program.
Insofar as teaming up with India is concerned, that has huge downside risk of bringing China in on Pakistan’s side just to maintain the balance of power in the region. No, better off keeping it strictly a NATO operation; gives it more legitimacy as it keeps it all connected to 9/11/2001.
I thought I’d heard they were Seabees (Navy Engineers). I, too, was wondering what the hell they would have been doing in “Injun Country” and not in a convoy. SOF might explain why they were in no-man’s land all by themselves, but I’m not convinced. Per WSJ: “A senior U.S. military official in Washington said the sailors weren’t Special Operations Forces, such as Navy Seals, who often conduct missions in small groups, although rarely in groups as small as two people.” Moreover, other accounts by locals had these guys in a Toyota Land Cruiser and apparently lost — ignoring attempts by local police to flag them down and continuing to head away from relative safety into Taliban territory. That certainly doesn’t sound like SF to me. I’m guessing Seabees could be part of a reconstruction team of some sort, but it still doesn’t explain why they were out there all alone.