Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Special Agent LUNAR SPOOK sends in this interesting observation on the recent Taliban raid on Camp Bastion:

Bastion raid signals birth of Taliban SAS in Afghanistan

IT WAS just after 10pm and dark in Camp Bastion when an explosion echoed across the Helmand desert from the east. A two-metre hole had been blasted high in the razor-wire-topped wall surrounding what was thought to be one of the most impregnable military camps on earth. Fifteen Taliban dressed in American army uniforms and armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades raced through the gap.They ran 150 metres and skirted a blast wall to run out onto a runway, bright under security lights.

Alongside it were 10 canvas hangars containing Harrier jets. The attackers, a well-drilled unit of men, divided into three teams and opened fire.
One began shooting at a group of Marine Corps pilots and mechanics working on the aircraft.

Their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher "Otis" Raible, 40, who visited the hangars around 10pm every day, pulled out his 9mm pistol and took on the attackers, according to an online tribute page.

He had little chance against the intruders' superior firepower and was killed with a mechanic, Sergeant Bradley Atwell, 27. Nine other marines were wounded.
The second group of Taliban destroyed three refuelling stations. A third party headed for the aircraft.

The AV-8B Harriers, which had arrived on the base only in July, are hated by the Taliban for their deadly efficiency. Each costs up to $30m. According to RAF sources, the attackers had time to plant explosives on several of the planes. Others are believed to have been hit by RPGs.

Six were destroyed and two badly damaged at a cost of about dollars 200m in the single most destructive strike on a Nato base in the 11-year war.
Publicly, officials have been trying to play down the raid on Nato's main base. Privately, they admit to having been astonished by the audacity of the attack on September 14.

"It was like a textbook SF [special forces] attack," said a senior officer.
US officials fear the Taliban have created their own special operations unit to infiltrate highly protected facilities. They suspect the masterminds to be the Haqqani network, notorious militants based in Pakistan ...

...As the Marines came under attack at Bastion, motion detector alarms went off in the security command post. RAF 51 Squadron, which is in charge of protection, dispatched a 15- strong force in armoured Jackal patrol vehicles.

No 5 RAF Force Protection Wing patrol in a Foxhound armored vehicle at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan Picture: Corporal Laura Bibby RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012

Leading them was Sergeant Roy "Doc" Geddes. "As I moved onto the airfield I could already see some Harriers on fire," he said. "We were soon engaged with the enemy, who used small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades."

The ensuing firefight was so fierce that the RAF troops alone fired 10,000 rounds. Another 15-strong RAF squad and marines went to reinforce Geddes's team until 120 Nato soldiers were in action. But the Taliban dodged between blast walls, and their American uniforms caused confusion.

The battle raged for almost four hours until a British Apache helicopter gunship ended it by raking the Taliban with 30mm cannon fire as they tried to escape across open ground. By daybreak 14 Taliban were dead and one was wounded and captured. Senior British and American officers who went to view the scene shook their heads in disbelief.

Read the entire article HERE

The above reflects the thoughts of Christina Lamb who is a journalist not a military or intelligence professional, and I disagree with her basic premise. Success criteria of Special Forces operations includes recovering your assets intact, i.e. getting your guys back out alive so they can go in and do it again later. To me this Taliban raid more resembles the Japanese suicide commando raid air inserted by crash-landing onto Yomitan Airfield, Okinawa on the night of 24-25 May 1945 (see below).

I agree with Ms. Lamb that this is an audatious operation, nonetheless, and a significant milestone in the enemy's capabilities. -S.L.

Giretsu Raid May 24/25, 1945

During the night of May 24, 1945, roughly 50 Japanese Navy and Army aircraft bombed the area as a diversionary raid. Twelve Ki-21 Sallys of the 3rd Dokuritsu Chutai commanded by Captain Chuichi Suwabe, each with eight commandos attempted to land. Eight were assigned land at Yontan and four to Kadena. Four aircraft aborted the mission with engine problems, and three more were shot down. Five managed to crash-land at Yontan during the diversionary attack.

Roughly 8-12 commandos using explosives destroyed aircraft and set 70,000 gallons of fuel on fire, before they were all located and killed. On the bodies of some of the raiders, detailed maps were found, that included the most recent constructions. In total, the attackers destroyed 9 aircraft and damaged 29 more, including: VPB-109 PB4Y-2 Privateer destroyed and another damaged beyond repair. One survived and around June 12 joined the Thirty-Second Army on Okinawa.

Bruce Porter recounts the attack in his book, Ace!
"Over a dozen Japanese giretsu commandos survived the suicide landing, and succeeded in destroying a large fuel dump (a total of 70,000 gallons) and planting magnetic grenades to aircraft on the flight line. Three F4U's, two PB4Y's and four transports were destroyed. In addition, 22 other F4U's, 3 F6F's, 2 B-24's and 2 transports were damaged. Only three Americans died in the raid, 18 Marines wounded. Japanese losses were 69 pilots, aircrews and raiders."

Joseph Alexander writes in his book The Final Campaign Marines Victory on Okinawa:
"Another bizarre Japanese suicide mission proved more effective. On the night of 24-25 May, a half-dozen transport planes loaded with Giretsu, Japanese commandos, approached the U.S. airbase at Yontan. Alert antiaircraft gunners flamed five. The surviving plane made a wheels-up belly landing on the air strip, discharging troops as she slid in sparks and flames along the surface. The commandos blew up eight U.S. planes, damaged twice as many more, set fire to 70,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, and generally created havoc throughout the night. Jittery aviation and security troops fired at shadows, injuring their own men more than the Japanese. It took 12 hours to hunt down and kill the last raider."

Yomitan Airfield looking from the east to the west, out to the invasion beaches - that's Torii Station dead straight ahead - home of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group. I've jumped onto this airfield a couple times - S.L.



  1. Storm - agree with your premise - OUR specwar folks (as you well know) DO NOT undertake ops without a reasonable percentage of both successfully completing the mission and retaining most (preferably all) assets.
    The fact that the insurgents were willing to expend all of their assets is what still differentiates their mentality from ours. OTH, it seems like the only reason they were successfully interdicted was the absolute overwhelming airpower that was finally brought into play.
    The fact that they were capable of using such sophisticated tactics should be a major wake-up call to our folks in theater............

    OTB MCPO sends............

  2. What are the chances these were not Taliban (whom I suspect do not have the ability to train for such an op, suicidal or not), but Iranian, or at least Iranian-trained?

  3. VMA-211 is now combat-ineffective. The last time that was true was December 1941 after the battle for Wake Island. After that action, they became known as "The Wake Island Avengers."


  4. Taliban "Special Forces"??

    More like the Judean People's Front - Crack Suicide Squad from
    "Life Of Brian".

    Although, mind you, we set a precedent for dealing with an implacable and despicable enemy whose methods of warfare were characterized by sneak attacks, brutality beyond the pale, and suicidal fanaticism.
    I celebrate the anniversary of that solution every 6th of August.
    It's getting time to either capitulate, or dust off that playbook.


  5. Also similar to VC/NVA sapper attacks?

  6. 10,000 rds and the only guys killed were by the Apache?