Commandos again retake northeastern Afghan district

Afghan commandos, backed by Coalition forces, have again ejected the Taliban from a district in eastern Afghanistan that has changed hands four times this year.

The combined Afghan and Coalition force air assaulted into the district center in Barg-e-Matal in Nuristan province on July 25 to retake the town from the Taliban, which took control of the district just one day prior.

“Initial reports indicate the security forces did not encounter any resistance from the Taliban,” Combined Joint Task Force-101 stated in a press release on its website. Jamaludin Badar, the governor of Nuristan province, confirmed that Afghan forces took control of the district, which directly borders Pakistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed that the Taliban withdrew from the district center to avoid incurring high casualties in a fight with Afghan and Coalition forces, according to BBC News Pashto Service.

Control of Barge-e-Matal has shifted back and forth between the Afghan government and the Taliban four times since the end of June. Hundreds of Afghan Taliban fighters, backed by the Pakistan Taliban, Arabs, and Chechens, have launched repeated assaults against the Barge-e-Matal district center over the past month.

Afghan officials claimed that an estimated 700 to 1,200 enemy fighters were involved in the assault. While the estimates may be high, Taliban casualties indicate several hundred fighters have been involved. More than 100 Taliban fighters have been reported killed in Barg-e-Matal since the end of June; 50 of those were killed in a single operation on July 23 in a Taliban camp near the district center.

For more information on the recent fighting in Barg-e-Matal, and in Nuristan and Kunar, see LWJ report, Taliban seize district in northeastern Afghanistan.


Wakht News Agency

BBC News Pashto Service

Aghan commandos secure Barg-e Matal, CJTF101 press release

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  • TMP says:

    Watch the Pakistan side of the border over the next several weeks. Within 1-5 km of this – I would venture to say there was more to this last go around on our part than we are saying right now –

  • My2Cents says:

    We advance – they retreat. We withdraw – they advance. No significant casualties on either side, and the Coalition looks like a bunch of losers to the locals. For the Taliban these are winning tactics.
    Nothing will change unless we take steps to severely thin the Taliban ranks every time they expose themselves and retreat. Just pushing them out will not reassure the locals. A pile of dead Taliban fighters and political operatives, and a coffle of prisoners of the same paraded through town will dispel the mystique and glory of being Taliban.

  • Henrik says:

    This is a disgrace. The ANP withdraw from the village after suffering FOUR KIA in a week. The village might have been retaken now, but given that the talibs have liquidated everyone who dared work with the afghan government and US forces, this is a net loss.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @Henrik: I couldn’t agree more. It appears that ISAF has forgotten about the “Hold” component of the “Clear, Hold, Build” strategy. It’s not good when cooperative village elders are executed on Main Street because some NATO yob prefers his troops to sleep at FOBs when the going gets tough. We never made progress in Anbar until we demonstrated that we were going to be there to protect our allies. Why should the Afghans trust us?

  • Mr T says:

    Lets see, do I support the Government who will leave me to be killed when the going gets tough or the Taliban who will continue to show up on my doorstep? No one recognizes these people?
    Also, Is Pak border 2 miles away? Is that where they are safely staging 1000 men and equipment for their attacks into this place. I would think that after clearing a location, you would branch out and clear areas around it so they can not get back in.
    Is the Pak border the boundary? The front line so to speak. How many Pak soilders are on the border within a few miles of this place? They didn’t see them or there are no Pak soldiers there? Why not?
    Oh, it was Pak soldiers just wearing their civies. Arms and equipment bought by the US aid dollars. That makes sense.

  • madashell59 says:

    I think Henrik’s first statement says it all. Only 4 KIA’s and they abandon their post. And from the report that is a 100:4 ratio. Why did they run and leave the governor behind. I would purge th ANP in the region and rebuild. It seems that the Governor was the only brave one there. But, it cost him his life.
    I hope TMP is correct.

  • B says:

    “Hold” is much easier said than done, particularly in the more remote regions of Afghanistan. The platoon house / patrol base theory was previously attempted in the Konar / Nuristan region, starting in about 2006. The results?
    Ranch House
    Keating / Lowell
    Three high-profile incidents where US forces were nearly overrun, and took some of the heaviest casualties per incident in the war.
    Because of our extremely limited force structure, this conventional COIN model is generally unsuitable for this country, which is much larger and much more populated than Iraq was. Not to mention the vast majority of the locals live in very remote rural areas, also in contrast with Iraq, which has a predominately urban or semi-urban populace.
    With the limited force structure in AFG, it has been nearly impossible for soldiers stationed at these platoon houses to affect the nearby population as they are intended to do anyways.
    Why? Because they typically don’t have enough troops to both secure their base and patrol at the same time. Not to mention just how much longer QRF takes to get up in those areas if needed. See the wikileaks entry on battle chatter from COP Lowell/Keating for a haunting example of this; NYT featured it in the wikileaks portion of their site.)
    I respectfully urge you to research the populations, locations, terrain, and other factors differentiating these two areas before implying that it is just a problem of “some NATO yob prefers his troops to sleep at FOBs.” Barg-e Matal is not Anbar.
    To address your question – “Why should the Afghans trust us?”
    Unless large (and certainly politically untenable) increases in force structure under a conventional COIN framework occur, or alternatively an aggressive and properly resourced and authorized irregular warfare campaign is instituted, they shouldn’t. They would be incredibly stupid to do so.

  • James says:

    I would not second-guess the critical decision-making process made by those coalition forces and good Afghan forces on the ground and on the front lines in this thing.
    Sometimes, the local population may have to “feel” the brutality of those foreign Chechyen and Arab terrorist occupiers for US and the good Afghans to get them on our side and to help US in fighting this war.
    Actually, I hope it changes hands a 100 times over. I hope coalition and good Afghan forces turn it into a deathtrap and minitiarized war of attrition zone.

  • Mir says:

    One key reason you are not seeing a “Hold” is the lack of available troops to support that isolated area and their cost / man power benefit to actual security. Their presence will only inflame attacks year around on something that only happens during the summer months. Barge Matal attacks have remained minimal over all these years for the exact reason U.S. troops don’t stay there. Its Afghan on Afghan and most Nuristani’s don’t want that and don’t want to deal with the blood feuds that ensue. By ISAF sending in Afghan Commando’s to the area you are seeing the best the Afghan army has, bolstering support for the area, with a AFGHAN face and not a American face.
    You also have to remember the logistics of the area which plays HEAVILY into this base. Its NORTH of COP KEATING which was overrun months ago, who was plagued by resupply issues as it was the farthest north US outpost in country at the time. No roads to resupply, you had to deal with what could be brought in a helicopter sling down a valley plagued with insurgents wanting to score a CH-47. So when you add even more insurgent controlled territory and even a farther distance the amount of supplies you will receive gets less and less, and help is almost non existent, with support only coming by planes as helicopters would take 1+ hours to arrive.

  • Max says:

    Sounds like an excellent opportunity to significantly increase the Taliban “body count” to me.
    They want to keep attacking this place? Ok, set a trap for them so that they come by the hundreds and even thousands, and then greet them with some carpet-bombing B-1s, saturation fire with mini-guns from a couple of Spookies, and maybe even some good old fashioned minefields.
    Why make it easy for them by withdrawing? They apparently want to go out in a blaze of glory, so let’s help them do that.

  • Render says:

    Just one B-1, fully loaded with PGM’s, will do the job. Assuming the targets are on the eastern side of the Durand Line and the targeting information is accurate and timely.
    All of the entry points have long since been mapped out. All of the choke points, ambush spots, and assembly zones are fixed by the geography itself. Those fixed spots have been there for eons, they have been fought over for almost as long as man has infested the earth.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @ “B”: I appreciate your take.
    So, I guess at this point I’m wondering if Barge Matal is someplace we should care about from a strategic standpoint?


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