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
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