US, Afghan forces defeat Haqqani Network suicide assault on FOB Gardez

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The vehicle used in the suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Gardez in Paktia province. Image courtesy of the US Army/CJTF-101

US and Afghan forces have defeated another coordinated Haqqani Network assault on a US outpost in eastern Afghanistan. The attack is the second of its kind in eastern Afghanistan in three days.

The al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network attempted to breach the outer perimeter of Forward Operating Base Gardez in Paktia province with a coordinated suicide assault today. A suicide bomber driving a car was followed by four fighters armed with AK-47 assault rifles and suicide vests who “attempted to breach a fortified area of the base,” but were stopped by US and Afghan troops guarding the outpost, according to a Combined Joint Task Force 101 press release.

“Coalition forces engaged the vehicle, destroying it and disrupting the attack,” CJTF-101 stated. ” The remaining attackers were killed as they attempted to flee the scene.” In the failed assault, only two Afghan soldiers were reported to have been wounded.

Coalition forces are “pursuing the remainder of the attacking force, estimated to be around 20.”

Background on recent attacks on US outposts in eastern Afghanistan

Since the end of August, the Haqqani Network has carried out five major attacks against heavily defended US outposts in eastern Afghanistan.

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

On Aug. 28, Haqqani Network fighters launched coordinated attacks against Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman in Khost province. 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. During raids in the aftermath of the attacks, US forces killed and captured several commanders and fighters.

On Sept. 2, the Haqqani Network attempted to storm Combat Outpost Margah in the Bermel district of Paktika province. US troops repelled the attack with mortar and small-arms fire, then called in helicopter gunships to finish off the attackers; 20 were reported killed.

And in the last attack, on Sept. 21, US troops killed 27 Haqqani Network fighters as they mustered to assault Combat Outpost Spera.

The Taliban and the Haqqani Network have launched attacks at several major installations across the country this year. In May, a small team attempted to breach security at Kandahar Airfield after launching a rocket attack on the base; another small team 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.

For more information on the Haqqani Network, its links to al Qaeda, and ISAF operations targeting its leadership, see LWJ report, US troops defeat Haqqani Network assault on base in Khost.

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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18 Comments

  • Nic says:

    Haqqani tactics are truly deserving of a name of their own so the Haqqani Network can take its rightful place in military history. The name should lend itself to an acronym. Here are just a few: Doomed from the Up Start (DooFus), Bound to Fail (BotFail). My muse has abandoned me so I ask those in LWJ Land to submit the winning entry.

  • Brian says:

    It’s Tet without the PR victory.

  • AShahid says:

    Vest and A PRayer – VAPR, pronounced like ‘vapor’…which is what it tends to look like when your deadman switch trips.

  • Bungo says:

    Knowing something about sales it appears that the Haqqani Network managers are trying hard to break all previous martyr records for the 3rd quarter. I think they can do it!

  • jayc says:

    Bin
    Laden,
    Our
    Offensive
    Putsch
    Ended
    Rudely

  • Cordell says:

    The recent attacks may also reflect a number of developments on the U.S. side. Obama will be holding a review of the Afghan War with General Petraeus in December. The general likely hopes to provide enough good news about the direction of the war then to push back against Obama’s announced July 2011 date to begin troop withdrawals. In addition, the U.S. has greatly improved its tactics to counter IEDs, the source of over half of all NATO casualties. (Essentially, the U.S. is employing aerial surveillance 24/7 along the major troop and convoy routes and calling in airstrikes to take out the Taliban’s IED teams.) As a result, NATO casualties have fallen steadily since a peak in July with the troop surge. Consequently, the Taliban may feel under pressure to inflict as many NATO casualties as they can, however they can, before December even if it means losing scores of men with each attack.

  • jim2 says:

    Haq-a-shiek?

  • joey says:

    what are you all talking about?? It’s just “filthy, lying crusader media”, that’s all.
    Seriously though, there seems to be a hint of desperation in these persistently futile attacks, unless they have enough cannon fodder to test our defences with.
    If the Taliban/Haqqani Network/AQ can “prove” their power to the Afghan populace in the areas where these COPs/FOBs are by launching these attacks, then perhaps the Taliban et al think that the Afghan people will steer clear from ISAF/ANA forces (???)

  • kp says:

    The HN model for combat reminds me of WW1 warfare: cannon fodder, officer class and general staff.

    The cannon fodder are expendable (in their view) and indoctrinationed in the glorious paradise to follow. They try to not loose too many officer class (commanders) though they are lossing them too (perhaps with some of their tactical know how). Tthe general staff (the senior leadership) who come up with these plans seems to be hidden somewhere far from the front making sure they don’t get hit by a UAV.

    The problem with the HN implementation is that it seems to guarantee very high casualty rates (attrition) for their own forces cannon fodder whilst at the same time not actually attriting the opposition (ISAF). In five attacks they’ve lost perhaps 100 people for a few wounded on the other side. They can’t keep this up.

    These seem to be platoon sized raids.

    The only times they’ve successfully detonated bombs inside the wire (twice?) are with single person collaborators not with external raids.

    Even worse for them … 1 captured. Expect follow up raids.

  • Mr. Big says:

    Nic,
    Their next attack is already in the planning stages. Operation “Don’t Underestimate Media Bias As Surefire Strategy”.

  • doug says:

    I’m confused…why did they run away? I thought their objective was to blow themselves up…guess they missed their chance.

  • Lakshmanan says:

    Haqqani Network or whatever other network, all networks lead to Pak Army. Is it possible to devise newer strategies by gun totting individuals against an advanced Army? When U.S is going to grab the Pak Army’s collar directly?

  • Civy says:

    So much for the Taliban’s taunt regarding the surge to “Send the whole US Army. We will kill them all”. Seems they are the one whose surge troops from all over the globe are doing the dying.

  • Scott says:

    It was FOB LIGHTNING not Gardez.

  • Newera says:

    It is long way to go, Taliban beat Soviet union 20 years ago,the troop withdrawn will bring more problem to Afgan, USA gets the same result with Soviet union ,win the war? who know that?

  • Mike says:

    It was FOB Gardez that this attack happened on. What baffles me is that the HQN sends 5-6 guys every time that they introduce violence to a FOB, despite the fact that every time they do so, they fail miserably.

  • Anonislegion says:

    Actually, it was my company that stopped the attack. A specialist in my 2nd Platoon was the one manning the 240B in the tower when the attack happened at noon.

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