The Taliban’s stunning victory at Camp Bastion

September 18, 2012

The nighttime attack on Camp Bastion that destroyed 6 to 8 USMC Harriers and killed squadron commander Lt. Col. Chris Raible and one other Marine was a major victory for the Taliban.  Camp Bastion was supposed to have been one of the most secure places in all of Afghanistan; to have not only penetrated the perimeter but to have caused such damage represents a major victory for the Taliban.

Daily Mirror’s graphic account of Camp Bastion attack

Michael Yon has an excellent piece up that describes how the Taliban were able to pull this off.

Last Friday, a few hours after sunset, the Taliban struck at about 10PM. They killed two US Marines, one of them a commanding officer, and they wiped out roughly 8 percent of our Harrier jet force.  Harriers are no longer manufactured, so these aircraft cannot be replaced.  Scratch one squadron, and now the military must reallocate aircraft to cover the deficit.

The enemy fooled all of our high-tech gadgetry with training, observation, intelligence, terrain, planning, rehearsal, and audacity, using basic military tactics that were perfected long before anyone reading this was born.  Persistence and luck was also a key factor: the Taliban have attempted similar attacks at different bases in the past with poor results. The Taliban only have to be lucky once. We have to be lucky all of the time.

The Taliban destroyed six jets, damaged two more possibly beyond repair, leaving Marine VMA-211 squadron with only two aircraft, and they killed the squadron commander.

All of this by Taliban who likely never served in any military.  If they did serve, they joined up, they got some good training, and then they put it to use.

As always, read the whole thing, especially his comments on how the Taliban has re-taken the night time hours, at least part of the time.  For decades, the US military has “owned the night.”  The diffusion of cheap technology has taken that advantage away, perhaps permanently, unless another technological advance can be made.

Harrier dropping flares over Afghanistan



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