20 Haqqani Network fighters killed in failed assault on US base in Paktika


Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

US and Afghan troops have beaten back another attempt by the Haqqani Network to overrun a US base in eastern Afghanistan.

More than 20 members of the Haqqani Network were killed after launching an early morning attack today on Combat Outpost Margah in the Bermel district of Paktika province.

“The attack began in the early morning with small arms and indirect fire directed against the outpost,” the International Security Assistance Forces stated in a press release. US troops repelled the attack with mortar and small-arms fire, then called in helicopter gunships to finish off the attackers.

“Aircraft from TF [Task Force] Viper conducted two passes over the area, killing at least 20 insurgents in two separate engagements,” ISAF stated. No US or Afghan troops were killed or wounded in the attacks.

Combat Outpost Margah is the third US base to be assaulted by the Haqqani Network since Aug. 28. Haqqani Network fighters launched coordinated attacks against Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman in Khost province on Aug. 28.

In the Aug. 28 attacks, US and Afghan troops routed the Haqqani Network fighters, killing more than 35, including a commander, during and after the attacks. Several of the fighters were wearing US Army uniforms, and 13 were armed with suicide vests. US forces killed and captured several commanders and fighters during raids in the aftermath of the attacks.

A US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that the Haqqani Network attacks, and similar assaults carried out against major US bases across the country, are ineffective.

“These sorts of FOB [forward operating base] attacks have become little more than exercises in target practice here,” the official said in the aftermath of the Aug. 28 attacks. “They show up, we watch them; we kill them.”

But a senior US military intelligence official and several US military officers contacted by The Long War Journal cautioned that the attacks demonstrate that the Haqqani Network still has the capacity to organize and strike just outside the walls of US outposts.

“That they [the Taliban and Haqqani Network] can muster their forces so close to large US bases and launch the attacks shows that their presence is strong just outside the gates of our largest bases,” an officer who wished to remain anonymous said. “There is no doubt that these are lopsided battles.”

“All they need to do is get their fighters inside the wire and create havoc, and the Taliban score a major propaganda coup,” a senior US military intelligence official said. “The Taliban know the worst case scenario for them in these attacks – they lose all of their men – and they are willing to take those losses to achieve that goal.”

In May, a small team attempted to breach security at Kandahar Airfield after launching a rocket attack on the base, and conducted a suicide assault at the main gate at Bagram Airbase in Parwan province. In June, the Taliban launched an assault against Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar province. The Taliban carried out a suicide assault against the Afghan National Civil Order Police headquarters in Kandahar City in July. Three US soldiers were killed in the attack, which included a suicide car bomber and a follow-on assault team. And in early August, the Taliban again conducted a complex attack at Kandahar Airfield. All of the attacks were successfully repelled by Coalition and Afghan forces.


Forces repel attack at combat outpost, ISAF press release

Haqqani Network took heavy casualties in recent assault on US bases, The Long War Journal

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

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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  • Max says:

    “All they need to do is get their fighters inside the wire and create havoc, and the Taliban score a major propaganda coup,”
    Ok, let’s get this straight: the Taliban take 100% casualties in a failed attack, but they succeed in getting inside the wire defenses, and so that means they won a propaganda victory? What kind of “victory” is that? If the American Army or Marines were to do something like that, take 100% casualties, and then try to claim a “victory”, they would be laughed at around the world as brain-dead and stupid.
    How is it that the Taliban can claim a “victory” from an obvious failure? I think it is the news media giving them a free pass to say anything they want without any contradiction lest they be accused of being “anti-muslim”; in other words, “political correctness”. What else could it be?

  • kp says:

    Quote: Ok, let’s get this straight: the Taliban take 100% casualties in a failed attack, but they succeed in getting inside the wire defenses, and so that means they won a propaganda victory? What kind of “victory” is that?

    That they’re looking for (and what’s implied in the article) is that they’re looking for the propaganda victory of a live suicide bomber inside the wire of a FOB and killing multiple ISAF troops.

    They are inspired I think by the FOB Chapman suicide bombing (Trojan Horse … they’re not going to get that again) and the (eventually) overrunning of FOB in the Korengal. “If only that would happen again, Inshallah”. Clearly the results, “Inshallah”, should be sending them another message given their recent multiple, high loss, failed attacks. They can’t sustain that sort of loss rate especially of the commanders and facilitators. The rent-a-bodies may be cheap but skills aren’t.

    However it seems that starting up the attack with small arms and indirect fire rather looses them the surprise they had (they did manage to muster close to a FOB) and then get taken out by counterbattery and air support.

    The video they shoot on these attacks (wasn’t it a video team who survived the last attack) gives them video they can spin on their web sites. It doesn’t have to be accurate it just has to encourage potential jihadis.

    Like the infamous “Bahgdad sniper” jihadi video showing a US Army solider getting shot and falling to the ground by an insurgents. What they didn’t show was the next bit of the video (which was released by the American after capturing the video) was the soldier who was hit in the body armor, got back on his feet, engaged and then chased the (close in) sniper eventually capturing him. Even with the guy captured the jihadi’s liked to show their “killing of a US solider” video even when they knew they didn’t and they lost a man doing it.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Saves our guys the trouble of having to go out and find them.

  • k ration says:

    Hey if their warlord boss wishes to send them to the lions, that works for me. 🙂

  • BrontosaurusRex says:

    You also have to remember that the Tet offensive was disastrous for the North Vietnamese who took heavy casualties and achieved nothing. Yet, the media took it that the enemy still had the will to fight and drove into American minds that the war wasn’t winnable. Ho Chi Minh once said something to the effect of, “You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it.”

  • 0_0 says:

    mmmm, weird, if the taliban can conduct attacks on their base, what is going on out side the base…..

  • KaneKaizer says:

    “The Russians got to a 1 million body count and still lost.”
    Yeah, most of them civilians. Big difference. The Russians probably would have won anyway if we hadn’t begun supplying the mujahideen with advanced weapons.
    What’s really annoying is when anyone comes here to criticize the fact that Bill posts body count for individual battles by saying “you can’t win this war by just killing the enemy”. The COIN strategy is being put into effect, unlike anything else that has ever been tried in Afghanistan by any previous armies, but you can’t win without killing a lot of Taliban either. Our military is more than capable of defeating the Taliban, it’s Obama, Karzai and Pakistan that could cost us the war. One big triangle of failure.

  • Rookie says:

    So what I said about 8 topics ago about the previous attack, that is staged mostly for propaganda purposes, is also in the minds of intelligence officers.
    @Max – if 1.x billion people can be conned to believe that after killing people they’ll be rewarded in heaven with whores and booze, what can one expect? Thousands of sexually-frustrated and brainwashed muslim teenagers are fantasizing upon this kind of news all over the world. And unfortunately, not only them by also a good portion of the extreme left crowd – no one can deny that many of taliban PR stunts are targeting the Western “public” (aka activist) opinion.
    Besides, the death toll of US troops was quite high in August – this alone is enough to satisfy their thirst for death.

  • BrontosaurusRex says:

    You misunderstood what I was saying. Yes, killing the enemy is part of the process for achieving security, civil objectives and the overall COIN picture. I was not criticizing Bill’s reporting and I’m as happy as anyone we hosed them. But to think we can kill 30, 300 or 3000 a day and think we are going to win is not how COIN works. Because they will find more bodies to send, and I promise you there are plenty out there. We’ll win this when we break their will to fight.


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