Rockets launched by Taliban fighters damaged the airplane used by General Martin Dempsey, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while it was parked on the runway at Bagram Air Base in Parwan province. Dempsey was in Afghanistan to discuss the recent uptick in green-on-blue attacks, among other issues. He was not in the C-17 when it was hit. Dempsey left Afghanistan on another aircraft, according to the ISAF press release:
International Security Assistance Force can confirm that shrapnel from an indirect fire round at Bagram Airfield damaged the military aircraft that brought Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to Afghanistan. The round was one of two that impacted Bagram last night. An ISAF helicopter was also damaged.
Gen. Dempsey, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Afghanistan visiting senior ISAF and Afghan officials. The Chairman was in his room at the time of the incident and was unharmed.
Due to some exterior damage to Gen. Dempsey’s aircraft, he left Afghanistan on a different military plane.
While this was no doubt a lucky shot by the Taliban rocket team, they certainly scored a major propaganda coup from the hit. The Taliban already claimed the attack and said they had inside information that allowed them to directly target Dempsey’s C-17.
If true, this would be the second time in the past six months that a top US general was targeted on a secure airbase in Afghanistan. On March 16, an Afghan interpreter attempted to kill Major General Mark Gurganus, the commander of Regional Command-Southwest, at Camp Bastion Air Field in Helmand province. An Afghan interpreter crashed a truck while trying to run down Gurganus and his staff just before US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was scheduled to land. The interpreter set himself on fire after failing. It is unclear if the attack was conducted by the Taliban.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.