Afghan Tip of the Spear

Ever wonder what it is like out on the very tip of the spear of Operation Enduring Freedom? Last weekend an estimated 300 Taliban insurgents swarmed a COP (Combat Outpost) in remote Nuristan, Afghanistan forcing US soldiers to fight in an Alamo-esque situation – which was only relieved with air support from other bases. Eight Americans died there, as did at least 2 Afghan soldiers, with 35 Afghan policemen captured (fate unknown).

You can see a video showing the landscape around COP Keating a few months prior to this attack. Imagine fighting an enemy who controls all the high ground around you, while you control a postage stamp-sized base literally in the middle of nowhere. Oh yeah, and your base contains hulks from armored personnel carriers that were destroyed there during the Soviet invasion of the same real estate 25 years ago. The fact that the Americans held the base despite these odds speaks volumes of the quality of our fighting forces – but what of the strategy of employing these remote outposts in hostile territory? One rumor has it that the Allied forces expended a billion dollars in munitions defending this base over the course of the battle…

What we are seeing in microcosm may be extrapolated to the entire history of warfare in Afghanistan. The US and its allies have nearly infinite munitions and materiel, and are highly skilled in the art of warfare. But the Taliban and its allies have a seemingly endless supply of bodies to hold RPGs and rifles committed to the war, costing virtually nothing but the time to recruit.

President Obama and his planners have some tough choices ahead.

[PS. Note that in the link above you will find information on donating to the US soldiers who were in that firefight. All their personal items were apparently destroyed as the base was attacked]

[I originally published this story at]


~ by greathistorydotcom on October 8, 2009.

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