Latest Channel 4 News:
Row over Malaysian state's coins
'Four shot at abandoned mine shaft'
Rain fails to stop Moscow wildfires
Cancer blow for identical twins
Need for Afghan progress 'signs'

Taliban attacks NATO Afghan bases

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 28 August 2010

Foreign and Afghan troops have repelled Taliban attacks on two bases in east Afghanistan. The assaults are nothing new, writes Alex Thomson, but they do show the strength of the insurgency in the area.

Taliban attacks two NATO bases

The attacks targeted the US military's forward operating base Chapman and forward operating base Salerno, in Khost province near the border with Pakistan.

Foreign forces have been stepping up operations against a resurgent Taliban in the area.

The Taliban said suicide bombers were among its 30 fighters who launched the raids, which were successfully deflected by NATO forces. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said 20 insurgents had been killed in the attack and a small number captured.

Air support was called in after the bases came under attack from rockets and mortar rounds before dawn today.

There have been a number of similar attacks against foreign military bases and Afghan government buildings in the east in the past year. In December, seven CIA agents were killed inside the Chapman base, the second deadliest attack in CIA history.  

Attacks on NATO bases are nothing new
The news of the attack on NATO bases in the east of Afghanistan does not mark any change in the course of the war, beyond underlining that the insurgency is strong in that area and capable of mounting such attacks, writes Alex Thomson, chief correspondent at Channel 4 News.   

Further, it has, before now, succeeded in overrunning some small outposts.
This was a larger assault, and it's the kind of attack which is far easier in the largely mountainous and often quite densely forested eastern areas of the country running up to the frontier with Pakistan.
Care should be taken with NATO figures on the numbers of insurgents they have killed.

They are often unreliable, always unverifiable and - as the recent slew of Wikileaks memos showed - NATO is (like all armies at war) constantly fighting a propaganda war as much as a military one.
So this is very different country and thus different tactics from the south, where IED and ambush along with some impressive sniping has largely been the insurgents' modus operandi in recent years. And highly effective it has proved to be.
There was a time – as the Canadians will remember – when the insurgents could and did mount frontal assaults on NATO bases in the flatter, more desert-like open country of Kandahar province.

They quickly learned they were on a hiding to nothing against the superior firepower and reconnaissance of the NATO machine. Nonetheless, this early period of the war up until 2006 served notice that resistance to NATO's occupation of Afghanistan would be sustained. All that has happened in the deep south is that the tactics of ambush, IED and shoot and scoot warfare have been constantly refined.
Equally the tactics of hitting NATO bases and lonely outposts along the eastern provinces of the country has become tactically more astute and has, in some cases involving US forces, led to the closure of a number of the more exposed bases. NATO calculated - probably correctly - that the presence of these bases set against the amount of intelligence they were gathering, did not stack up in military terms. 

Despite the presence of almost 150,000 troops, violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Taliban-led insurgents have launched increasingly brazen attacks recently in an attempt to destabilise the government and oust foreign troops.

Civilian deaths increased by 31 per cent in the first six months of this year, according to a United Nations report.

More than 2,000 foreign troops have died since the conflict began.

ISAF also said today that its forces had mistakenly killed two private security contractors near the Afghan capital.

One of its patrols came under attack from insurgents in Wardak province but defensive fire from the patrol killed two people later identified as private security contractors.


Send this article by email

More on this story

Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Watch the Latest Channel 4 News

Watch Channel 4 News when you want

Latest International politics news

More News blogs

View RSS feed

Living with the Taliban

Taliban on the Afghan frontline

A rare film of Taliban fighters on the Afghan frontline.

Pakistan appeal


Actor Art Malik on why he is fronting the DEC's flood appeal.

Tackling Taliban IEDs


Bomb disposal soldiers on lonely walk to defuse bombs.


Channel 4 © 2010. Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.