Jalalabad Rocks

Last Wednesday morning the local Taliban sent eight guys to attack the US Army base at Jalalabad Airfield known as FOB Fenty. They initiated the attack with a car bomb in a rarely used entry point on the southeastern side of the airfield which is well away from the Torkham to Jalalabad road. The remaining attackers tried to bum rush the damaged gate and got shot all to hell by the American soldiers who man the guard towers. Adding insult to injury there just happened to be a section of fully armed and fueled Apaches in the air and they were instantly able to pounce on the survivors of the futile charge at the damaged gate as they fled back towards a small village called Moqamkhan. A joint force of ANA and 101st Paratroopers went into the village and finished off the survivors in a short fire fight. FOB Fenty was back to normal by noon but the attack did generate plenty of news which may have been the point.

The attack on FOB Fenty has had limited impact on the local citizens or the troops stationed there. But Jalalabad has also had a series of IED attacks in the Safi Bazaar which is in the main downtown area. The word on the street is that these are bombing targeting “un-Islamic” stores but they have hit cell phone stores and a juice bar which clearly fall within the definition of being properly Islamic.These attacks are concerning but to date none of the local security forces have found a night letter which is an indicator the Taliban may not be responsible. This area of the bazaar has had its share of internecine fighting over the years with several firefights breaking out between vendors which the ANP joined in for good measure.  This could be score settling or the Taliban may feel strong enough to operate in openly in Jalalabad.

latest bombing in the Safi Bazaar targeted this ANP checkpost which is manned 24 hours a day. The villains placed a good 3lb magnetic mine on there and walked off at around 2030 at night an nobody saw a thing. That is not cool
latest bombing in the Safi Bazaar targeted this ANP check-post which is manned 24 hours a day. The villains placed a good 3lb magnetic mine on there and walked off at around 2030 at night and nobody saw a thing. Not cool.

Attacking security forces checkpoints is a standard Taliban tactic but their ability to do so in Jalalabad is not a new development.  Their targeting has gotten better  which is concerning.

This was placed under the passenger side of a Toyota corolla belonging to a Colonel in the National Directerate of Security. Although magnetic there is not enough metal under a passanger seat to attach it securly so the villains used tape which the Colonel saw the next morning which is why he checked his undercarriage. Typical keystone cop execution by the forces of evil. These bombs are made with 2 to 3 lbs of PE 3 explosive and are pretty powerful.
This was placed under the front passenger seat of a Toyota Corolla belonging to a Colonel in the National Directorate of Security. It’s about the size of a cigar box but thicker and protruded from under the vehicle.  The Colonel saw the shiny light colored tape the next morning so he checked his undercarriage. Typical keystone cop execution by the forces of evil. These bombs are made with 2 to 3 lbs of PE 3 explosive and are pretty powerful.

Right now things are not looking too cool in Jbad for us internationals but there could be change afoot. Lost in all the news surrounding the appointment of Gen Petraeus is the amazing (one-sided) fights that have been happening in Kunar and Nuristan Provinces. Last week the troops stationed at the Nuristan PRT in Kala Gush spent several hours watching video feed of some 200 fighters climbing the mountain to the west of them in order to stage a massive attack. By the time the villians had humped all the heavy guns, mortars, rockets, ammo, etc… up the mountain there were B1’s stacked above them with 2000 lbs JDAMS.  Talk about an ass whooping – these kind of debacles piss off the local tribes because their young men join the fighters and promptly get atomized by JDAMs for nothing and losing men for no reason is not covered in the Pashtunwali code.

Kala Gush Nuristan - the Taliban attempted to attack by fire from the mountain to the left and sucked up a couple of 2000 lb JDAM's for their troubles.
Kala Gush Nuristan – the Taliban attempted to attack by fire from the mountain to the left and sucked up a couple of 2000 lb JDAM’s for their troubles.

Around the same time the Kala Gush Taliban were sucking up massive tac air attacks a group of local Taliban launched an effective IED attack which killed 5 Americans in the Marawara valley which is just across the river from Assadabad. I am guessing that the commander of the 101st had enough and went after them with his entire battalion. The villains, who have been openly hanging around Marawara for weeks, rushed in to reinforce the Taliban groups caught in the paratroppers dragnet and the Army has by now killed well over 150 of them.

There is much more American military activity around Jalalabad including flying columns of the varsity Afghan SF with their American advisers who use Toyota trucks just like their Afghan colleges.  These small, fast, powerful formations are by far the most effective joint US/Afghan effort of the war and the only example of real embedded (as opposed to co-located) training currently being done with the Afghans .

Afghan Commandos with embedded American SF pause for a radio check outside their base in Jalalabad. They are heading towards the Southern Triangle which contains Taliban units who operate day and night and have driven the Afghan Security Forces out of many districts.
Afghan Commandos with embedded American SF pause for a radio check outside their base in Jalalabad. They are heading towards the Southern Triangle which contains Taliban units who operate day and night and have driven the Afghan Security Forces out for the time being.  Local traffic always stops well short of the Afghan Commandos who enjoy an excellent reputation among the Afghan population but have pretty strict force protection standards.

The shop keepers, ANP, Provincial Counsel members and various other men of importance can run the Taliban right out of Jalalabad if they want to. But they haven’t which is why this string of bombings is concerning and why the aggressive operations by the U.S. Army in RC East is welcomed news. Focusing on the population doesn’t mean giving the bad guys a free pass which I have written about many times in the past. Herschel Smith over at The Captain’s Journal has consistently covered this aspect of the COIN debate with the most coherent, in depth pieces on the topic.  His latest can be found here and I am, as usual, in complete agreement.

The only way this current, and admittedly troubling, activity inside Jalalabad City is going to stop is if the Taliban out in the districts start getting their asses kicked on a routine basis. That is exactly what is happened in Kunar and Nuristan Province this week and may be happening south of me as I write this post. What I hope to see is a lot more of this aggressive posture because it is the only way those of us in the reconstruction fight will be able to maintain freedom of movement.

Look at the body language here - the guy getting searched has the classic Taliban look; long hair, untrimmed beard, Pakol and high water pants.
Look at the body language here – the guy getting searched has the classic Taliban look; long hair, untrimmed beard, Pakol and high water pants.  The ANP officer recognizes him for what he is and is giving him a pat down but do you note this officers posture? He’s giving this guy a pass

General Petreaus has a window of opportunity to turn this thing around.  He arrived in country today and he may well turn out to be the right man arriving at exactly the right time.  Inshallah.

30 Replies to “Jalalabad Rocks”

  1. Nice article. Yup, you aren’t the only one who noticed those battles to the North of you.

    3-201 [to the west of you including Kapisha and Parwan], and 203rd ANA [Loya Paktia and Ghazni] have some tough units that can pursue the kind of kinetics you are talking about. I don’t know of any battalions from 1-201 or 2-201 [2-201 fights in Nangarhar, Khost, Nuristan] that are capable of aggressive operations without heavy mentoring. Do any exist?

    Some good news. Finally some elite bns from 3-201 and 1-203 ANA are back from the Helmand/Kandahar sideshow [where Marines described them positively which is saying something.] In addition, 201 and 203 ANA have gotten many extra companies [4th combat companies for battalions versus the customary 3.] This has caused some optimism about a surge of ANA operations in the east.

    Expect some serious hurt on the part of bad guys by 203 ANA/101st in Loya Paktia.

    In your neck of the woods, might the ANA be thickening? They just formed 4-201 ANA brigade. Almost certainly not ready for prime time but still.

  2. Tim thanks for the AAR 🙂 and the information on whats happening there.For whats its worth hope you have a safe 4th of July there and leave the illegal fireworks alone. 🙂

  3. ISAF had stopped giving body counts but recently seem to have started again. Perhaps it’s an attempt to raise home morale.

    The problems with body counts remain the same- anonymous sources, round numbers of dead, deceptive phrasing, no figures on captured, and no photos of the captured weapons the dead must of had when they were killed.

    Anan: I don’t mean this to be taken as insulting but are you a public affairs officer in the ANA?

    BTW what is an “elite ANA unit”? Are you using the term as per “an elite Congolese ice hockey team”? If you’re elite you wouldn’t need mentoring would you?

  4. The best ANA are probably the 8 commando combat battalions [each have 749 authorized], 3-201 ANA and 203 ANA Corps.

    Even elite ANA need OMLTs [ETTs] to coordinate CAS and deconfliction. As the AAF [Afghan Air Force]starts supplying air liaison officers, this will change. Another issue is the continued shortage of college graduate ANA officers. Would you rather concentrate all of them into 20 combat battalions that don’t require mentoring or spread them out over all 74 ISAF mentored ANA combat battalions?

    To state the obvious there is great variation in quality between different ANA. Many ANA battalions already fight better than many ISAF contributor nation armies. How would you rate the best ANA battalions compared to Pakistani Army battalions?

  5. A major reason for OMLTs is to enable intelligent sharing. Often ISAF/NATO/US Forces classification rules do not enable sharing with the ANA even when it is time sensitive and necessary. Hint Hint Hint . . . some OMLTs . . . stuff might happen. Less said about it the better. 😉

    Harlon, sure you have heard many OMLT/ETT stories? Will share one from Iraq. An IED was discovered by GIs who stupidly classified it. Unfortunately there aren’t many US EOD/Engineers in that part of Iraq. Fortunately an ETT saw it and hint hint hint . . . somehow an Iraqi Army EOD removed the IED. Must have been a coincidence.

    Intelligence sharing between ISAF/OEF/SOCCOM and ANSF is worse than ISF sharing with US Forces Iraq. Solving this was one of Gen McChrystal’s highest priorities, but he was hit by the motherload of USMIL and NATO bureaucracy. ANSF sometimes retaliate by not volunteering info from their own substantial intel networks which exacerbation the situation. However even ISAF/ANA intel sharing might be better than NDS intelligence “collaboration” with ANA G2s.

    Another important OMLT function is to help the ANA handle senior ISAF officers who happen to be morons and the mentally deranged bizzaro land of FOBBITry. Have you heard about some of the US Airforce Colonels that command PRTs [or PRT components]?

    A lot of the UNAMA, international NGOs, Afghan NGO, GIRoA civilian institutions, ISAF PRTs, USAID, state department, agriculture department, many national aid agencies [Japan, India, China, EU, Canada, Iran, South Korea, US, Australia, being the largest] treat OMLTs with a lot more respect than ANA officers. Sure racism has nothing to do with it. 🙁

    ANA officers like having OMLTs around to deal with condescending pricks. A large part of the ANA’s responsibility is to coordinate 3 dimensional COIN [economic, institutional, security] in their AO.

  6. In reading the above five posts, I am beginning to form some ideas as to how and why that Rolling Stone assassin got inside the wire of McCrystal’s command group.

  7. “In reading the above five posts, I am beginning to form some ideas as to how and why that Rolling Stone assassin got inside the wire of McCrystal’s command group.”
    Care to clarify?

  8. I think one of the advantages that the Pakistani army would have over the Afghans is the fact that they have legacy training institutions and mentoring left over from the old Indian Army.

    After partition in 1948 the Indian Army was split in two and that included training colleges, officers, men, etc. Both India and Pakistan had priority access to Sandhurst in the early years to establish best practice.

    The Afghans on the other hand have had to start from scratch with a Soviet trained core gradually being replaced by a patchwork Afghan Army trained by various different NATO members who each have subtly different training methods.

    The nice thing is that despite this it is quite an acheivement to have the level of competent ANA units we have now trained in such a short space of time.

  9. Question: If GEN P soon after his assumption of command changes the ROE, doesn’t that say a GREAT deal about the constraints that he had GEN M-4 Crystal Ball operating under? Does that just wreak of US Mil politics? I’m just saying….

  10. Another Chim Chim:

    I suggest you think of Princeton-Patreaus as being “demoted” in his responsibilities with a smack down from Obama-Mao: “He was your man; now go do his job!”

    How would you feel and what would you do, given all that you learned at CENTCOM…and now know about Obama-Mao?


    Thirty plus years of Gen. McCrystal’s service where he learned how to be 1)the top snake eater, 2) a senior general who goes to grad schools learning the importance of political communication, and 3) part of the boomer generation that grew up with Rolling Stone as the hip magazine; now aged like him.

    Live thirty plus years in a special society; come out and assimilate into general pop: Easily or with great difficulty?

    Perhaps our real idiots have been collecting paychecks for years from the US State Department, formerly managed by Colin Powell, a career military man…and a mentor of high status with Obama-Mao, ace community organizer who believes his brain is better than Plato’s or Machiavelli’s!

    Go ask Curly Colin what’s what on all of this…if he will even see you or more importantly tell you his truthful thoughts. He may not be right–nor that bright, but he does have the ears of some pretty powerful people who make serious, life and death decisions…!

    You Betcha!

  11. Registered as an agent of a foreign nation? Green card? Student visa?


    What air force? A major-general in charge of nine Mi-35’s of uncertain usability (got ammo)? Like the armor, it’s all just more stuff for the junkyards without massive Coalition support, which will come to a rapid halt after 2011.

    College graduate officer corp? How about we get them through junior high school first? And off of the hash pipe…

    Omelette’s trying to teach them to fight like western armies? I’m sure the Hmong will be bemused to hear that that…is happening again.

    Per the Commander-in-Chief’s express (and often repeated) orders, there is no nationwide COIN. Nada, nein, nyet, zero, zilch, not happening. The assistent Commander-in-Chief, Plugs Biden, says, “Bet. On. It.”

    Those eight somewhat useful “commando” kandaks (out of some 70,000 to 100,000) will form (re-form) the nucleus of the Northern Alliance after 2011. The rest are just patronage positions for temporarily re-assigned warlords, all of whom are/will be making their own post-withdrawal arrangements.


    Anan – Since you had the nerve to come back to Tim’s blog, perhaps you can tell us all why you need to know the response times and contact information of individual ANA/ANP units in the Jalabad region? And why you would ask such questions on a public blog at the exact same time the enemy is kinetically seeking the answers to those very same questions?


  12. To what end would Petraeus turn Afghanistan around? The problem is the cost in borrowed dollars. Under his command at CENTCOM the US outlay has tripled. Does anyone believe he would seek to reduce the resources being used? Killing Taliban at $40 million a pop isn’t a good return on your anti-Jihadi dollar but the cost of this is irrelevant to the generals.

    Here’s one scenario: Things go on a they are this year. In December Petraeus explains to Obama why the situation, despite a 65% increase in insurgent incidents and ISAF cas, has not quite stabilized and with just a few more brigades and an extra $ 20 billion we’ll be able to start to leave next year. Exit stage right- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

    Obama of course accepts this “conditions based” recommendation out of fear of the War Party accusing him of not being “strong enough”. This doesn’t work and Obama, baring an economic miracle or the nomination by the Republicans (again) of someone totally nuts, is gone in 2012 and the war drags on at $450 billion per year until the economy forces a large scale withdrawal.

    Meanwhile if you’re a Talib and are finding things too hot you can always cross the border for a break and knock off ISAF convoys until the coast is clear again.

  13. To me, the selection of GENeration P to take over in AF was purely a political move on the part of 0Bamaoist. It is not for sure who the Republicant’s would put forth as their next presidential candidate but this will most certainly eliminate a man that is most capable from REAL experience from potentially running again the anointed 0ne. If he pulls it off, which already looks fruitless due to the demo congress already considering under-funding the incursion, and removes his Army green in order to make a b-line to the oval office, it will be the most crushing political defeat that the democratic party will EVER experience. Beware though of the underhanded, back-dooring, double-dealing that the chi-town political movement will be involved in so that they can submarine any of GEN P’s potential aspirations of becoming the commander-in-chief. He should not have accepted the demotion but like a true PATRIOT who still believes in the foundation of America and not the communist infiltrated version that we current experience with our current ‘elected’ ‘leadership’, of course he took the challenge.

    Who knows, perhaps GEN P will try the ole ‘scorched earth’ policy first and THEN start anew after we have regained an upper hand to negotiate from. From my experience, the Afghans DO understand unadulterated power AND respect through force is still respect 🙂

    As far as ANAN and his inquiry of the response time of ANA/ANP: They get there when the get there. Inshallah, your spotters will receive immediate brain cancer when they use their cellphones to alert the ‘tangos’…

  14. Exactly how long of a window of opportunity has Petraeus ? I think that window slammed shut and shattered about 5 years ago.

    1. John – Shattered windows can be climbed through…

      I do sort of agree with you that that window slammed down in 2006. Obama’s West Point surrender speech may have nailed boards across that shattered window.

      Do you think the war will be over if and when US forces withdraw from Afghanistan? I don’t…


  15. Tim,

    I was glad to hear about the ass-kicking our guys have given the Taliban et al. recently. Was particularly interested to read that a 200-man assault force got introduced to 2000 lb JDAMs. I’ve been worried that the Taliban would try some large-scale operations and that they might pick a vulnerable target, but it seems that’s quite unlikely, at least without them running into massive amounts of firepower.

    Also, that photo of Kala Gush is a beautiful shot. Reminds me of home.

    Hope you had a good 4th of July, and stay safe!


  16. No I don’t see an end to fighting in Afghanistan for quite a while. When I was there in 1976- and 1977 things were quite stable. I think that it was a big mistake to finance the conservative fundamentalist muslims in their fight against “godless” communism. I wish the Russians were still there. As far as Obama’s West Point speech he tripled the troops over there, not that the situation on the ground has gotten anything but worse. The Russians killed 1-2 million Afghanis, of course they had a very relaxed ROE, but they still had to leave. The American people have not supported the war over there for a long time and I don’t think that is going to change. There are about 25 million Afghanis if we had just given each a Visa debit card with about 200 dollars per month on it for the last 10 years we could have saved the USA money and lives. (25 million x $200 =5 billion) And I think the Afghanis would have been happier. Maybe we could have even bought Osama bin Laden.

  17. ooops sorry Make that 300 dollars per month for each and every Afghani. Yeah I am thinking that an Afghan family of say 6 could live p-r-e-t-t-y well on 1800 per month That 100,000,000,000 DIVIDED BY 25,000,000 100 billion per year divided up by 25 million Afghans. That would also include a 10% “administration fee”

  18. At danger room they have a article up about civilian casualties create new enemies,study confirms. good read.something Tim has talk about before.maybe they should have ask Tim.

  19. oh yay…

    Another anti-American hit piece from the relentlessly anti-US military Ackerman, shilling for yet another pointless and wasteful fobbit study, re-studied by college professors, telling us that Afghans and Muslims in general are just thrilled to pieces about being slaughtered in mass numbers by the Talib.


    Like we needed to spend tax dollars and grants to find out something that the last fifty years of well documented history already tells us about Islam? Or the last 6,000 years of recorded history tells us about human nature?

    That’s about as useful as the recent Donilon (James Jones’s deputy) Study to find out why we lost the Vietnam War…which ignored the Pentagon Papers that we’ve already paid for and all of those cheaply available tell-all history books…to tell our current Commander-in-Chief something most of the rest of us already know.


  20. False positive. Likely a bug of some sort. AVG and Avira both run clear (on different rigs). I’ll let Mr. Roggio know. Good call either way.


  21. RJ

    McCrystal had a total of less than 2 years in SF. Most if his tome was Infantry. He was groomed to be a General for a very long time. He checked all the boxes and got all the tee shirts.
    I am sorry that his career ended this way, but he did do it. I just wish I knew why he did it.

  22. Jeez I’ve read the same stuff before, back in the late 60’s. Same outlook and attitude. Retrospectively a train wreck in progress.

    And what’s different to-day? It’s villains and knuckleheads instead of slopes and gooks against the forces of goodness and light.

    And these bozos don’t seem to know when they’re whupped, either.

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