Skip to comments.US Establishes Base in Bin Laden’s Backyard: 21 killed
Posted on 08/21/2006 6:02:19 PM PDT by wjersey
In the small rural community of Kamdesh, Nuristan province, US troops recently constructed a base that houses hundreds of troops, making it the first such outpost of its kind to be built in one of the most untamed areas of Afghanistan.
The base at Kamdesh is dug into a rugged mountain side that backs up to a sheer mountain side; prime real estate in the insurgent saturated northeast. Serving as an extension of forward operating base Naray, which lies due south in Kunar province, Kamdesh aims to reach further into the northern areas, namely Nuristan, to help the locals with water and road construction projects. However, the aims of the US in this area are far from whimsical; rather the decision is simply strategic.
Just a few miles from the Pakistani border, these isolated bases serve as the tip of the US spearhead into enemy terrority. Local loyalties run deep with Hekmatyars Hezb-i-Islami factions, who also maintain an ongoing relationship with both Taliban remnants and al Qaeda factions throughout the Afghan northeast and Pakistan.
Long thought to be Usama Bin Ladens elusive lair, it is made up of formidable geographic challenges- high mountains, thick forests, low cloud cover, and nearly is impassable during the winter. The US intend on dismantling the Hekmetyar apparatus while systematically routing the al Qaeda fighters from the area, including decapitation strikes against their leadership.
The bridge building and infrastructure improvement initiatives are attempts to reward the local communities and entice them to provide any meaningful scrap of intelligence on the whereabouts of such unsavory characters as Bin Laden, Hekmetyar and Dr. Zawarhiri.
An Unholy Trinity of Northeastern Insurgents
Al Qaeda, Hezb-i-Islami and Taliban groups are all active in this area. Going back to September of 2002, a video of Bin Laden and Zawarhiri, both dressed like Nuristani shepherds, was broadcast to the world. These images are widely believed to have been filmed in this northeastern corridor. A geographical analysis scrutinizing the foliage, trees and rock formations seen in the videos background helped indicate their location. Many analysts believe that Bin Laden and Zawarhiri continue to dwell somewhere along this extremely rugged enclave and that it is unlikely bin Laden has moved far from this area.
Since the area has little to no allegiance to the central Afghan government and the lack of US troops here over the years, al Qaeda was able to establish a formidable horde in Kunar and Nuristan. A shura council elected an Egyptian commander known as Abu Ikhlas al-Masri as the emir of Kunar/Nuristan in 2005. He is reported to command up to 170 men and has lived in the area for almost twenty years. Along with him is a rogue Taliban commander by the name of Ahmed Shah, also known as Mullah Ismail.
Ismail gained notoriety last year when he and his men killed three out of the four US Navy reconnaissance commandos sent to observe/arrest him. His men later shot down the Navy squads reinforcement helicopter, killing a further 16 US servicemen, all of whom were elite special commandos. The ferocity of the incident in such a desolate area made many believe the commandos had stumbled upon the outer rings of bin Ladens security circle.
Finally, early this year gave the clearest evidence yet that senior al Qaeda leadership continues to operate and find sanctuary amongst these fearsome northeastern enclaves. Only miles across the border from Kunar/Nuristan, a compound located in Damdola was rocked by a blistering CIA missile barrage. Numerous civilians were thought to be killed and most of the structures were reduced to rubble. Although the attack failed to kill the intended target, the nefarious Dr. al Zawarhiri, it is speculated several of his Egyptian lieutenants, including Abu Khabab al Masri and Abu Obaidah al Masri, were wiped out. Despite the serious militant threat and geographical challenges, Naray and Kamdesh may well serve as the stepping stones for US forces into the inner security sanctum of these three organizations.
Within three weeks of the newly established firebase at Kamdesh, a well orchestrated attack was launched from three sides against the entrenched US forces. Speculated to have been Hezb-i-Islami militants, the marauding force unleashed a hailstorm of machine gun and RPG fire to assault the American garrison.
The fierce firefight lasted two hours, pitting American howitzer and mortar fire against a well armed and highly mobile foe.. US forces sustained two wounded soldiers during the fight and no damage was reported to the base itself. The engagement ended after US jets flew bombing runs over the craggy mountain sides and dropped 500 lb. munitions on the militants positions. As the smoke settled, 19 dead militants were yanked from the battlefield.
Only days later the US garrison was ferociously attacked again, this time resulting in the deaths of 3 US troops and leaving three others wounded. Details about the incident remained murky as the US command only made a quick mentioning of the attack on Friday the 11th. One thing is clear; US forces have bed down in an active Vipers nest where extremely violent encounters will soon become routine. Further escalations from both sides is a given as theyll battle it out for the support of the locals, something the insurgents currently have the upper hand in.
The establishment at Kamdesh is drawing the conclusions many analysts have been predicting all along; the Kunar/Nuristan corridor is an insurgent haven that borders an equally un-patrolled liberated zone (FATA) that is likely housing some of the areas most wanted militants. Only time will tell what benefits the Coalition will reap by posting themselves in one of the last militant bastions of the country. With the south under NATO control, and resources being shifted from Iraq with the recent demise of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, FOB Naray and Kamdesh may serve as the springboard to finally eliminate the upper echelons of the most wanted militant groups in Afghanistan. Its a mystery why these bases were not established five years ago.
Iraq was a priority. Begging the question...
What's riduculous is that it's necessary to have one now. A UAV found bin Lauden back in the fall of 2001, but some Pentagon lawyers ordered the Air Force not to fire the Hellfire missles onboard at bin Lauden.
The men serving at this base deserve the thanks of their nation. I hope someday we know who their names.
I'm pretty sure that wasn't Bin Ladin, but rather the one-eyed Mullah Omar.
Happy Hunting, good soldiers.
Mullah Omar isn't 6'5". The report I read said they saw a very tall man.
It's a mystery to me why anyone calls these terrorist scum "militants."
Huey Newton was a "militant;" these muslims are just pig sh!t.
Pray for these young warriors, they are in the belly of the beast.
No, the incident in 2001 was Mullah Omar, the one you are thinking of was Clinton was in the WH, before 9-11
Oooh I likes the sound of that!
"Its a mystery why these bases were not established five years ago."
Not saying that's what it is I just hope they learned the lessons.
Now for the propaganda part. The hold the tribals have over the area sways with the power of the moment (as it has for all of recorded history) and if the terrorists can say "here is a place where you may not go" the locals pretty much have to put up with it. If they wind up getting hunted and hounded, the tribes will be the first to learn of it. We need to help that process along.
Yeah, Kerry's and Kennedy's Massachusetts and Clinton's and Schumer's New York!!!
It's not much fun being the bait.
The Taliban don't have artillery except for mortars and we have very effective air support.
And guys that love shooting jihadis.
Things in realtime cannot be established as quickly as they do in cyberspace. There are hurdles that the armchair viewers cannot even begin to comprehend.
God bless our military. As we sit and chat in the comfort of our homes, they are sitting in the viper's nest.
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