Haqqani Network took heavy casualties in recent assault on US bases

The al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network lost more than 30 fighters and a commander during the Aug. 28 attack on two US forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan.

The International Security Assistance Force said that US and Afghan troops “killed more than 30 Haqqani Network insurgents” during the early-morning assault on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman. Thirteen of of those killed were wearing suicide vests, ISAF stated. A US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that 35 Haqqani Network fighters were killed during the clashes. ISAF had initially estimated that 21 Haqqani Network fighters and a senior facilitator named Mudasir were killed during and immediately after the assault.

After the fighting, Afghan and Coalition forces “capitalized on intelligence tips” and captured a Haqqani Network commander who was “involved in planning the attacks.” Two of the commander’s associates were also detained during the raid, which took place near Bakhtanah in Khost’s Sabari district.

Last night, another Haqqani Network commander involved in the attack was detained along with several of his fighters during a raid near Khodizali in Khost’s Terayzai district.

A US intelligence official described the Haqqani Network attack in Khost over the weekend and other recent assaults at Kandahar Airfield, Bagram Airbase, and Jalalabad Airfield as futile efforts that have served as a meat grinder for Taliban foot soldiers.

“These sorts of FOB [forward operating base] attacks have become little more than exercises in target practice here,” the official said. “They show up, we watch them; we kill them.”

In the attacks on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman, two of the Haqqani Network fighters were observed while cutting through the wire, and were killed once a security team was dispatched. Only four US soldiers were wounded during the fighting at both bases, and all have since returned to duty.

Brigadier General Josef Blotz, the senior ISAF spokesman, described the frontal assaults on US forward operating bases as “ill-conceived” attempts that serve only to endanger those executing the attacks.

“The insurgents’ attempts to attack ISAF or Afghan government facilities were defeated again,” said Blotz said. “The insurgent leadership who direct these ill-conceived attacks far from the actual battlefield knows their low-level fighters have no chance of success against these targets.”

US maintains pressure on the Haqqani Network

US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that they believe the Haqqani Network has been under pressure due to the high tempo of operations against the group’s leaders and facilitators. These officials have detected strains between the group’s leadership and its lower-level fighters.

Over the past several months, Afghan and Coalition special operations forces have been launching nightly raids in the Haqqani Network strongholds of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, and have killed and captured dozens of leaders and facilitators, along with scores of fighters.

Several top commanders were captured over the past few days. A recent raid in Khost on Aug. 26 netted an important senior Haqqani Network commander who “coordinates and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, including suicide bombings” and who also traffics weapons and supplies to fighters in the region. The commander and several of his fighters were captured after intelligence indicated that “the group was gathering for an upcoming complex attack consisting of suicide bombers and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in the area.”

The commander, who was not named, has links to the highest levels of the Haqqani Network. A US intelligence official who tracks the Haqqani Network said the commander has been in direct contact with both Jan Baz Zadran and Badruddin Haqqani. Zadran, a top aide to Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani Network, is the group’s logistical and financial coordinator, and also acquires weapons and ammunition for the network. Badruddin is one of Siraj’s brothers and serves as a senior military commander.

In another operation, Afghan and Coalition forces killed a commander known as Naman and seven of his fighters during a raid on Aug. 28 near Kowti Sheyl in Paktia’s Zurmat district. The commander was responsible for “coordinating and conducting indirect fire and direct fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces” and also “also coordinated the movement of improvised explosive devices, ammunition, supplies and fighters.”

For more information on the Haqqani Network and its connections to al Qaeda, see LWJ report, US, Afghan troops beat back Haqqani Network assault on two bases in Khost.


ANSF, ISAF Defeat Another Haqqani Attack, ISAF press release

US, Afghan troops beat back Haqqani Network assault on two bases in Khost, The Long War Journal

Forces capture Haqqani Network commander involved in attacks, ISAF press release

Force captures more insurgents linked to coalition base attacks, ISAF press release

Capture of Haqqani senior commander in Khost confirmed, ISAF press release

Afghan, coalition forces conduct operations in Paktia, ISAF press release

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Nic says:

    A frontal attack on well prepared positions is not a very good tactic. A prime example of the weakness of this tactic is the Battle of the Tenaru as described by Leckie in Challenge for the Pacific. This battle is a part of Episode 1 of The Pacific, a copyrighted work by HBO.

  • Charu says:

    It sounds to me more of a mini-Tet-offensive strategy; defeating the hearts and minds back home, if not on the front lines.

  • BraddS says:

    Desperation move by the idiot Talib commander, or something to distract the $1/day men from the latest ISAF capture/kill victories…

  • Cordell says:

    This seeming act of desperation might reflect success in ISAF’s efforts to choke off the Taliban’s opium and extortion driven operational financing. If a Taliban commander is getting low on funds to pay his $5/day men, he really has little to lose by their deaths as they would likely desert after going weeks without pay.

  • Max says:

    Excellent news! Ever since Petraeus took over, it seems like things are starting to go our way. I hope that is more than an appearance.
    God bless our troops and allies!

  • Render says:

    Nobody ever rightfully accused them of being tactical or strategic geniuses. They’re not and never were.
    At the grunt level very few have any real concept of they’re facing.
    Even at the field commander level they appear to have zero concept of electronic OPSEC.
    What they lack in tactical/strategic understanding and technological knowledge they make up for with the unlimited and virtually unbreakable morale of religious fanaticism.
    As long as the grunts are convinced that JDAM’s and Hellfires will send them to paradise, they’ll keep coming. As long as the grunts are convinced that everybody they kill will be their slaves in paradise (some paradise eh?), they’ll keep coming.
    As long as the mullahs and imam’s have a safe place to indoctrinate that fanaticism, they’ll keep coming.

  • Rookie says:

    Do not underestimate the power of propaganda. Most probably on hundreds of jihadi websites, this failed Taliban attacks are shown as major victories against US forces. They lost 10-20 in this attack, probably another 1000 deadbeats are ready to volunteer from all over the world.
    If you had the chance to discuss with various people from countries generally considered above the islamic world average (like Morocco, Malaysia), you maybe noticed that even people with certain education are believing all kind of crap. In one instance, a Moroccan engineer was convinced that the south of his country (Western Sahara) is occupied by large contingents of US troops at this very moment. In Malaysia on 9/12 the idea that 5 millions Palestinians were killed in death camps by Israel was widely spread – consequently the 9/11 murderous acts were widely approved.
    Afghanistan will require permanent Western military presence – without it, Taliban will regain power in a matter of weeks.

  • Zeissa says:

    I think they’re paid more like five dollars a day actually. Nobody works for 1 dollar these days outside of Rhodesia and North Korea. (Yes, I insist on that name.)

  • Zeissa says:

    I don’t actually remember exactly what they are paid, but its not too bad… something like a few to several hundred dollars for a season’s fighting.
    Rookie: Don’t be silly, it’d take months or even a few to several years. The Afghan army is fairly strong and there’s still the northern alliance.
    It takes weeks to take over a country even with modern air insertions.
    Max: I’m sure he’s made some improvements on actual operations, but his main achievement is getting news of victory to us, as you say ‘propaganda’, except he’s honest.


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