The Taliban are growing and the fighting is getting worse in Afghanistan. Last week, there was fierce fighting at COP Keating, the base was overrun, it was burned down and eight American Soldiers died in the battle that lasted for a full day. Now the Tailban claim victory as US troops pull out of the remote Afghan base. They have raised their flag over the town of Kamdesh. But that’s not the whole story.
American troops have pulled out of COP Keating, otherwise known as Kamdesh, the remote afghan base in the harsh, mountainous region near the border with Pakistan. The military outpost was the site of one of the fiercest and deadliest battles with Taliban forces in the war in Afghanistan. The Battle for COP Keating took place last week, it last for a full day and resulted in destruction of the base and the deaths of eight and injuring 24 American Soldiers. Estimates are that over 200 Taliban fighters were killed in the battle.
The Taliban have been emboldened by the troops leaving the base. They have raised their flag over Kamdesh and declared themselves victors in the battle, having run the Americans away from the area.
It’s not surprising that the Taliban would cease on this as a sign of victory. It is certainly something they can use as a propaganda tool with the locals and as a recruitment tool. See us! We have beaten back the mighty American army. Join us or die!
It is true that Apache pilots reported being shocked at the size of the attack when they arrived to provide support. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ross Lewallen and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chad Bardwell spoke of the shock they felt upon seeing the outpost in flames and that it had been breached.
“When we first showed up and put our sensors on Keating, it was just kind of shock,” said Bardwell, 35, of Liman, Wyo., who piloted one of a swarm of Apaches that rushed the base’s defense. “All the amount of flames and the smoke and to see that amount of personnel running outside of their wire. It was really kind of shock.”
Lewallen added, “I’ve been on three deployments and I’ve never seen that large of a force attacking one static position.”
The firefight resulted in much of the base being destroyed and the surviving Soldiers having lost everything they owned except the clothes on their back and the weapons in their hands. But they were alive.
Locals had warned the Soldiers in the outpost just moments before the attack that there was an attack coming. They had just a few minutes to prepare.
After the battle, Americans destroyed the rest of the base so that it couldn’t be used by the Taliban.
Part of the reason they were breached, giving the Taliban and anyone else who wants to use that as a propaganda victory is that the base was already in the process of being closed down. Many of the men stationed there had already been moved out, leaving a much smaller force to deal with the attack.
Part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s plan for Afghanistan is to concentrate out troops in the more populated areas to protect the population, shutting down the more remote locations, such as COP Keating and COP Fritsche. Both camps were abandoned and destroyed this week as part of a plan that was in place prior to the battle that took place last Saturday.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware that was already in the works and that this was not a victory for the Taliban.
Knowing that a handful of Soldiers who had been left in a remote outpost fought with such ferocity and courage against overwhelming odds and still came out the victors makes me all the prouder of our fighting forces. No one fights as well or as honorably as an American Soldier, regardless of the odds.
More videos are below including a tour of the camp from before the battle and a video taken during the battle.
The attack on COP Keating – Video
Listen as the Taliban celebrate when the base blows up
Tour of COP Keating – Video
COP Keating – Kamdesh – Video