Kandahar rocket attack

#1
'We fled our plane for the shelter as the Taleban attacked our base'

The Times Foreign Editor was ready to fly out of Kandahar when a salvo of rockets landed
Richard Beeston

We knew something had gone badly wrong when a nervous-looking RAF crewman addressed the passengers. “Does anybody have weapons and ammunition on board?” he asked a rugged but bemused collection of American troops.

A few of the US Marines put up their hands and were asked to go to the back of the aircraft. No, their firearms were not being confiscated; they had just been volunteered into forming a guard around the giant Hercules transport craft because of very real fears that the Taleban were about to attack.

Someone pointed out that the worst place to be in a gun battle was sitting inside a fully fuelled aircraft parked on the tarmac — so we made our escape into the gloom.

Kandahar airfield is one of the busiest military bases in the world and the spearhead of the Nato coalition’s operations against the Taleban in their southern Afghan heartland. There is normally a constant roar of jets and the clatter of helicopters — but this time it was ghostly quiet. Cars and aircraft had been abandoned with their lights still on and everyone was ordered to take shelter by a British soldier speaking, barely audibly, on the base’s crackling intercom.


Our refuge was an uninspiring concrete hovel. It was soon abandoned as all the passengers moved outside to witness one of the most audacious attacks attempted by the Taleban.

Their fighters had launched a salvo of rockets into the sprawling southern sector of the base and then sent a team on foot to infiltrate the northern perimeter fence. The silence was broken by the roar of American attack helicopters scrambled to intercept them.

The aircraft rolled in one by one. First there was the flash of the heavy machinegun then the report as red tracer fire lit up the night. Another helicopter came in, disgorging a volley of rockets that streaked across the sky before exploding on impact. Twinkling high above were the unmanned drones scouring the ground with their powerful cameras for signs of further movement.

By morning it was clear that the Taleban had largely failed in their attempt to breach Kandahar’s defences. Several off-duty soldiers and contractors playing volleyball had been injured by the five rockets fired into the base, with one bloodied trainer still visible lying at the impact site, but no one was killed and the Taleban assault party never made it over the wire.

The attack did have an impact, however. The airfield at Kandahar was closed for hours, leading to the cancellation of the first British ministerial visit by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, and Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary.

The daring nature of the operation is also significant.

Nato insists that it is beginning to turn the course of the war and gain the initiative. The Taleban are clearly intent on seizing it back with their own spring offensive, announced on May 20. In the past week the Taleban launched bloody attacks in Kabul, where three senior US officers were killed by a suicide bomber, and at America’s main base in Bagram, north of the capital, where a group of militants engaged in an eight-hour firefight with the Americans.

The violence raises fears of more incidents in the run-up to President Karzai’s peace Jirga (council), originally set for May 29 but rescheduled yesterday to June 2. The other trigger could be the deployment of thousands of additional US troops, part of Washington’s strategy to surge more forces into the area and help to stabilise the south.

The new counter-insurgency strategy seeks to protect the civilian population, push out the Taleban and allow reconstruction, with the fledgeling Afghan Government assuming authority in areas that have known little but the rule of the gun for 30 years.

Major-General Nick Carter, the British officer who commands all forces in the south, accepts that there has been an increase in violence but that the strategy remains sound. He predicts that once a security cordon has been placed around Kandahar this summer, the city will reclaim its place as a major Central Asian trading hub.

The test case for the strategy is Marja, a remote rural district in the neighbouring Helmand province, best known for opium production. Thousands of US Marines poured into the area three months ago in Operation Moshtarak and have attempted to bolster Afghan government authority in the area.

The operation went well initially, particularly during the poppy harvest when violence traditionally tails off, but there are now fears that fresh attacks and a campaign of intimidation by a resurgent Taleban could halt progress.

Lieutenant-Colonel Cal Worth, the commander of US Marines in Marja, insists that life is returning to normal. Bazaars have reopened, the police have arrived and a few civil servants have reported for work.

But Kareem Mateen, the head of Afghan development in Helmand, is not convinced and warned that the Taleban’s campaign of intimidation against those co-operating with the Government had made life very dangerous in the area. “The situation is deteriorating. It is getting worse, day by day. A lot of people are trying to leave Marja,” he said.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7134568.ece

Is it just me or does this article appear to be well and truly sexed up?

Have the Talibs got neckier, with regards to having a pop at Kaf?

Most importantly, where were the Rock Apes? :D
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
spaz said:
Most importantly, where were the Rock Apes? :D
I was thinking that by the second line
 
#4
Massive load of overhyped shite, the place gets rocket attacked every week and the attack was in no way a serious one with any intention of causing anything more than annoyance and to create shite like the above, you only have to look at Wanat to know the difference between what is a serious attack and what isnt.
On the other hand if it makes the boardwalk heroes feel more part of it then I suppose its a good thing.
 
#5
the rocks were probably parked up by j1 whilst sipping brews and playing pool in heroes. :D

i do think that this attack was slightly different though, yes, KAF does get rocketted, but this was a more determined attack involving rockets and small arms. as i'm aware they hit the boardwalk and the ramp where the helis are parked, not sure which one though
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#6
KAF has 'enjoyed' around 90+ IDF's a year for a good while now. And that's not including false alarms. But, given the sheer size of the place, and the crappiness of the rockets, you are pretty unlucky to get a bit. There's been a couple of fatalities, and loads of injuries over the years, but again, as there are probably around 20,000 people on it, the odds of you being OK are pretty good. It only makes the press here if someone is involved who may sell papers - remember when Ant & Dec were 'targeted' last year?
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
barbs said:
How did they get past the flexible and agile Rock Apes? We should be told.
Rocks on E goat are claiming it's not their job to defend the perimeter at KAF
It's also a massive perimeter as well so they keep saying and they can't cover all of it from the Naafi car park
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#10
OldSnowy said:
But, given the sheer size of the place, and the crappiness of the rockets, you are pretty unlucky to get a bit.
Jon-Allan Bennett

http://www.modoracle.com/news/Heroes-Pedal-Of-Honour_15769.html

Also on the trip is RAF weapons technician Jon-Allan Butterworth, 22, who lost his left arm at the elbow after an attack on an airfield in Basra last year.

Four rocket-propelled grenades slammed into the explosives store he was guarding, sending deadly shrapnel flying. Jon says: “I’ve had my bike specially doctored so I can take part, and I’m riding to show my appreciation of all the support Help For Heroes has given me.”
Nah....Chinese rocket .......following SOPs he jumped out of the vehicle he was in and took cover.....rocket landed next to him.

You might also check out the story of Maj Phil Packer ......doesn't matter much how sh1t happens, the end result is the same....
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
I agree with that
We had a boy on Telic 4 took a lump of shrapnel to the leg whilst in the shower in Al Ammarah
The computer I was booked on to use was also destroyed by shrapnel in the same attack
 
#12
Dollsteeth said:
Massive load of overhyped shite, the place gets rocket attacked every week and the attack was in no way a serious one with any intention of causing anything more than annoyance and to create shite like the above, you only have to look at Wanat to know the difference between what is a serious attack and what isnt.
On the other hand if it makes the boardwalk heroes feel more part of it then I suppose its a good thing.
It wasn't overhyped shite to the Canadian lass who lost her leg or any of the other Cat A casualties.

It was however an unsuccesful attack carried out by a bunch of fairly amateur insurgents who were repelled by the sangar guards (not Rocks, they don't defend the perimeter in KAF or BSN, units do in BSN and other NATO nations do in KAF). The failed fencecutters were subsequently pursued, surrounded and detained - by the Rocks.

Just because it was repelled doesn't mean it wasn't serious. The impunity with which insurgents lob rockets into KAF is a real concern and it's very difficult to guard against. Trying to get enough men (Rocks or not) to effectively deny an enormous GDA at KAF is challenging to say the least.
 
#14
Dollsteeth said:
Im sure it wasn't overhyped to her, but she didn't write the article did she?
No she didn't, but she didn't describe it as 'in no way a serious one' either.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#15
As everyone on this forum knows and understands, it is the psychological and media impact the Taliban are after .

Flashback: Saigon, heart of the US presence in Vietnam where they had 550,000 personnel engaged.......the New Year festival 1968 (Tet)....a team of less than a dozen insurgents overran the US Embassy....

Ironically the Tet offensive was actually a colossal FAILURE for the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong......but it is perceived as a turning point in the war because it convinced the people at home that the war was unwinnable....and THAT is the real battlefield.

SOURCE
Jan. 30, 1968, when 85,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops struck 36 of the South’s 44 provincial capitals.

Two days earlier, a French officer in Laos had tipped me off that something spectacular was about to occur during the cease-fire for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. “You’d better return to Saigon,” he said.

At 3 a.m. on Jan. 31, I stood opposite the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, watching a fierce firefight between Marines and Viet Cong attackers, some of whom were already inside the Embassy compound.

Some days later, I was in the company of Marines fighting their way into communist-occupied Hué, Vietnam’s former imperial capital, 600 miles north of Saigon. We found its streets strewn with the corpses of hundreds of women, children and old men, all shot execution-style by North Vietnamese invaders.

I made my way to Hué’s university apartments to obtain news about friends of mine, German professors at the medical school. I learned that their names had been on lists containing some 1,800 Hué residents singled out for liquidation.

Six weeks later the bodies of doctors Alois Altekoester, Raimund Discher and Horst-Guenther Krainick and Krainick’s wife, Elisabeth, were found in shallow graves they had been made to dig for themselves.

Then, enormous mass graves of women and children were found. Most had been clubbed to death, some buried alive; you could tell from the beautifully manicured hands of women who had tried to claw out of their burial place.

As we stood at one such site, Washington Post correspondent Peter Braestrup asked an American T.V. cameraman, “Why don’t you film this?” He answered, “I am not here to spread anti-communist propaganda.”

There was a time when Hué was the most anti-American city in South Vietnam, to wit, a graffito outside the villa of the dowager empress, which read, “Chat Dau My” (cut the Americans’ throats). But this changed as a result of Viet Cong atrocities. Now the word “My” (American) was replaced with “Cong” (communists).

Many reporters accompanying U.S. and South Vietnamese forces realized and reported that the fortunes of war and the public mood had changed in their favor, principally because of the war crimes committed by the communists, especially in Hue, where 6,000-10,000 residents were slaughtered.

But the major media gave the Tet story an entirely different spin. CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, for example, flew briefly into Saigon. When he returned to New York he told his 22 million nightly viewers:

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who have lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”


In other words, Cronkite said, “Oops, we lost,” when, in truth, the biggest engagement in this war was militarily won. Two decades on, I was a chaplain intern in a VA hospital working with former Vietnam combatants. They were broken men. Most had been called baby killers on their return home. Their wives or girlfriends, and in some cases even pastors, had abandoned them.

Many had attempted suicide or withdrawn into the wilderness.

And almost all thought that their country, even God, had turned their backs on them. There was a time when I loved my craft as a reporter passionately. Vietnam changed this. It taught me the appalling consequence of journalistic hubris, which gave the media, meaning all of us, an enduring bad name.
 
#16
Bubbles_Barker said:
Dollsteeth said:
Massive load of overhyped shite, the place gets rocket attacked every week and the attack was in no way a serious one with any intention of causing anything more than annoyance and to create shite like the above, you only have to look at Wanat to know the difference between what is a serious attack and what isnt.
On the other hand if it makes the boardwalk heroes feel more part of it then I suppose its a good thing.
It wasn't overhyped shite to the Canadian lass who lost her leg or any of the other Cat A casualties.

It was however an unsuccesful attack carried out by a bunch of fairly amateur insurgents who were repelled by the sangar guards (not Rocks, they don't defend the perimeter in KAF or BSN, units do in BSN and other NATO nations do in KAF). The failed fencecutters were subsequently pursued, surrounded and detained - by the Rocks.

Just because it was repelled doesn't mean it wasn't serious. The impunity with which insurgents lob rockets into KAF is a real concern and it's very difficult to guard against. Trying to get enough men (Rocks or not) to effectively deny an enormous GDA at KAF is challenging to say the least.
What he said.Despite how much of a dent it may put in your slagging efforts,it is not the Rocks job to man the towers on the fence, that is left to other foreign forces.There is a large enough AO for the Company sized group of Rocks to cover, without that responsibility also.

This attack has certainly up the stakes in the area though.
 
#18
[quote="Cpt_Darling]It is not the Rock's job to man the towers on the fence, that is left to other foreign forces.[/quote]

The Slovakians at present.
 
#19
Bubbles_Barker said:
It was however an unsuccesful attack carried out by a bunch of fairly amateur insurgents who were repelled by the sangar guards (not Rocks, they don't defend the perimeter in KAF or BSN, units do in BSN and other NATO nations do in KAF). The failed fencecutters were subsequently pursued, surrounded and detained - by the Rocks.
Whoa there fella. Let's not start putting facts into the thread. This is a rumour service and as such, only pedantic boll0cks should be bleated about.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top