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U.S. ignored warnings before deadly Afghan attack
Three intelligence reports warned that Taliban insurgents were planning an attack just days before this month’s raid on two remote military outposts in eastern Afghanistan that killed eight U.S. soldiers, but the reports were dismissed as insignificant, U.S. officials told The Washington Times.
As a result, military officials did not send additional troops or make preparations to protect the 140 U.S. and Afghan troops at the combat outposts near Kamdesh in Nuristan province by the Pakistan border, the officials said.
Army Maj. T.G. Taylor, a spokesman for the Army’s Task Force Mountain Warrior, told The Times that the three reports did not stand out among hundreds of others and that the intelligence was deemed to be not specific and uncorroborated.
“Reports like this happen all the time in all of our areas,” Maj. Taylor said in an e-mail. “It is only through corroboration of reports and/or multiple instances of reporting that we can develop patterns.”
• 4 Americans die in Afghan bombing
One U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said that despite the Army’s characterization of the reports as insignificant, some of the reporting was included in finished intelligence that circulated in classified channels throughout the region before the attack. Finished intelligence is material that has been analyzed and determined to be of value.
A former senior Army officer said the intelligence should have prompted action to provide the outposts with more defenses.
“Why didn’t they react and have immediate support on site, based on the intelligence, and even based on the initial attack that occurred?” retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely asked.
Gen. Vallely said the outposts near the border should have been staffed with more Afghan troops, who despite eight years of U.S. assistance and training are not deemed capable of running such posts themselves.
The attacks on the Keating and Fritsche outposts - the deadliest in more than a year - are now being reviewed by the Pentagon. The disclosure of prior intelligence warnings comes as President Obama is weighing a request by his top commander in the region to deploy up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
Some 200 Taliban insurgents attacked the outposts on the morning of Oct. 3 with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, nearly overrunning the fortified bases.
They killed eight U.S. Army soldiers and two Afghan soldiers, making it the deadliest single attack against allied forces in Afghanistan since a similar raid in nearby Wanat in July 2008. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in that battle, which prompted a re-evaluation of U.S. counterinsurgency tactics in Afghanistan.
One of the intelligence reports on Kamdesh, released in part to The Times, stated that a new Taliban sub-commander in Kamdesh, named Ghulan Faroq, had been appointed and “charged with attacking COP Keating,” but no date for the attack was given. COP is military shorthand for combat outpost.
The report also stated that on or about Sept. 29 or 30, “fighters in Kamdesh received a resupply of B-10 ammunition” suitable for use with Soviet-design B-10 recoilless guns that fire 82 mm mortarlike rounds.
A second report stated that, around Oct. 2, a Taliban meeting took place in Kamdesh and that “a Taliban commander will arrive in Kamdesh soon to conduct attacks against coalition forces.”
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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