Attack on Camp Bastion – A Few Thoughts

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I tend to steer clear of commenting on current news events because it is difficult to keep up and not get swept up by the inevitable speculation but a few thoughts in no particular order.

It wasn’t about Prince Harry or anti Islamic videos, operations like that do not get lashed together overnight. The timing is coincidental although one would assume that if a newsworthy opportunity presented itself the Taleban would alter timings to show how they would mount complex attacks at short notice.

There has been an avalanche of ridiculous bullshit spouted across the internet ranging from how this is a game changer, a new tactic for the Taleban  and we are all doomed, of course.

Look at the post date on this video.(H/T Arrse)

New tactics, not so sure.

Before pronouncing on the effectiveness of the base defences, whether the lack of investment in C-RAM is at cause or who is going to get the sack I think it would be wise to let cooler heads find out what happened first, make some sensible decisions and let them get on with it. I find it amusing to watch people so far removed and with so little experience making judgements on how crap Leatherneck/Bastion defences were or what they would do to fix it from behind their keyboards which of course always involves buying the latest gizmo.

The place is simply huge and impossible to make completely watertight, seems to me that whilst on face value there was a breakdown in security, the attackers were all (bar one) killed and the attack contained.

I mus stress, on face value, because none of use here are in possession of the full facts.

As usual, the mainstream media is falling over themselves to see who can talk the most cock, the most sensible piece I have seen by far came from the Afghanistan Analysis blog

http://afghanistananalysis.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/what-was-the-camp-bastion-attack-really-about/

Now that is a great read.

Sol makes a very good point about how the aircraft destroyed are going to have to be replaced from somewhere

http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/most-aircraft-lost-to-ground-action.html

I am just waiting for the inevitable comment about how air power delivered from carriers would have prevented this.

51 Comments
  1. S O says

    The Taliban have adopted the UCP camo pattern.
    They’re doomed. ;-)

  2. Phil says

    I’ve been pontificating on this.

    They have a pop at the place every now and then, but 99% of the time they get caught. They’ve found mortars cashed near the run way, in 2008 there was a VBIED that went off on the road between what was then BSN and Camp Shorabak which detonated early and there’s been various other intrigues.

    They got one by us, they were bound to at some point. It’s odd how they got so close but I suspect they utilised what might be called a ruse of war to do it (uniforms etc).

    Bastions defences are solid. They had their one shot at pulling something like this – absolutely nobody is going to be allowed to drive near the perimeter unless it is patently obvious they are ISAF now.

    It’s nothing new, their success is, but like I said, one off. They won’t be able to pull the same stunt twice. Once bitten, twice shy. Those in charge at Bastion could have done with a reminding that they are in a war zone which sounds like a cheap shot but it isn’t – the place is more like a big garrison town now rather than an operational joint base and the mind-set that goes with that is dangerous out there.

    *cheap shot* It gives all the REMFs something to crow about now, “I was only 4 miles from a fire fight hiding under my pit in the tent during lockdown”.

  3. Phil says

    PS: That video is like something from Team America!

  4. Think Defence says

    Fuck yeah

    Phil, wonder if the ironing controversy will go away now :)

  5. Sir_Humphrey says

    Lets be honest, if you work in a conflict zone and build a large facility which, while not a centre of gravity, is an attractive target, then of course it will be attacked.
    One attack, no matter how violent, is barely anything compared to most other facilities in Afghanistan (for instance Jalalabad), or the old COB in Basra, which was attacked so often people got ‘splat maps’ when they left to show how often they were attacked.

  6. Observer says

    I’ve found Sol’s pieces to be a bit high in hyperbole and opinion and low in hard facts. “Most aircraft lost since Tet”? What happened to Coalition air losses in the Gulf War? Tet gets pulled out because it had the image of a “massive American loss” when the results were actually the opposite, media spin turned a massive victory into a PR defeat. This is another case, a molehill turned into a mountain.

    Impressively big bomb BTW.

  7. Phil says

    Massive bomb where the hell was that attack?

    @TD I bet they’ll be pepper-potting to the EFI for their pies from now on ;-)

  8. wf says

    @Phil: there’s nothing like running off high cuisine :-)

  9. The Other Chris says

    If you’re expending the resources and committing organisational capacity to strike the likes of Camp Bastion then you have less efforts focussing on targets such as schools that educate women, ancient Buddhist sites or London Underground trains.

    To those involved in keeping these attacks out of our various back yards by keeping the aggressors attention on you: Thank you.

  10. WiseApe says

    “I’ve found Sol’s pieces to be a bit high in hyperbole and opinion and low in hard facts.” – I find his site highly entertaining. I’m sure I laugh out loud in all the wrong places.

  11. Ace Rimmer says

    One of the most poignant things I noticed in the video was the smile on the truck driver’s face. He knew he was on the way to paradise and looked so relaxed and happy you’d think it was his birthday.

    How do you combat that?

  12. Bertram Pantyshield says

    5.56mm between the eyes? Tends to combat a lot of people.

    Being less facetious, by convincing everyone else that the bloke who just blew himself up on a promise made in a book is rather silly. That’s what I did when a mate of mine carried out a suicide attack on what he believed to be Lord Voldemort’s lair.

    The problem with that approach is takes several millions of pounds worth of white goods and a few centuries of cultural and civil evolution… the bullet is often cheaper and quicker.

  13. TrT says

    “Before pronouncing on the effectiveness of the base defences, whether the lack of investment in C-RAM is at cause or who is going to get the sack I think it would be wise to let cooler heads find out what happened first, make some sensible decisions and let them get on with it. I find it amusing to watch people so far removed and with so little experience making judgements on how crap Leatherneck/Bastion defences were or what they would do to fix it from behind their keyboards which of course involves buying the latest gizmo.”

    But given the long and sordid history our armed forces have of claiming the sky is green, they won in Basra and all is rosy, not to mention, removing anyone who says otherwise, is that really a sensible proposition?

  14. Observer says

    Trt, they DID win in Basra.

    Their only problem was that they needed to CONTROL the area, not simply win the battle.

    The difference between winning the war and ruling the country. Think Machiavelli said something along that lines in “The Prince”. In all honesty though, I believe they actually did a pretty good job, considering that a lot of their problems derive from external influences and that a fair chunk of the “freedom fighters” were imported from outside of controlled zones. So you could even say they do control the area too, just their bad luck their main problem starts in areas not within their jurisdicture.

  15. IXION says

    Observer

    Defeated chinese general to Mongol Lord

    ‘You can conquer from horseback but you cannot rule from horseback’

    (Suggest substitute MRAP or armour for horse).

    Frankly this sort of sneak attack shit happens in this sort of war. As a single incident it is meaningless, as part of a pattern of resistance it is not.

    Sorry Phil while you are undoubtedly right in that it is not the start of some Tet style offensive or new tactic. The Taliban will undoubtedly also be back for more, in some attack of this, or some other types.

    As for the results:- that we are seemingly no longer doing ANA joint patrols, then that just about puts the last nail in the –

    ‘We are handing security over to our brothers in the ANA who are professional reliable and trustworthy, to secure the rebuilt Afghan society’ – bollocks.

    Bollocks that have been listening too for the last 10 years, (count em 10 years! We will be up on the double the length of WW2 when we leave). Camo covered mouth pieces, have been appearing on our screens for the last 5 years at least telling us how next year we will achieve victory.

    Time to indulge in the ancient art of f*cking off quickly Basra style in the general direction of out.

    BTW that appears to be what the govt are thinking too about an ‘Early exit’. With us talking to the ‘nice Taliban. You know: -The ones who were on holiday for the last 10 years visiting their sick mothers rather than trying and occasionally succeeding in killing us, and are not at all the same as the ‘Mad Mullahs’ they share a name with who pull stunts like the one above.

  16. Phil says

    I ignore your opinions on Afghan. We’ll never agree.

  17. IXION says

    Phil

    You can ignore my opinions as much as you like, no skin off my nose!

    It’s ignoring reality that is costs us the blood of our soldiers, the cash from our treasury, and the good offices of potentially useful and powerful friends…..

    Still go on, tell us one more time how this time next year the ANA will be running things, and we will be able to withdraw leaving a stable democratic state behind, I could do with a good laugh…

    What was it General ‘Insanity’ Melchett, said in Black Adder goes forth? About when all else fails, a total refusal to face facts was the best policy……

  18. Phil says

    Keep fishing!

  19. Simon says

    Are we not just still playing the “Great Game”?

    I struggle to see how the poor ANA will cope when we pull out. Whatever we teach or give them has already been infiltrated.

    History has this horrible tendency to repeat itself…

    “It was with these thoughts in mind that in 1838 the British launched the First Anglo-Afghan War and attempted to impose a puppet regime on Afghanistan under Shuja Shah. The regime was short lived and proved unsustainable without British military support. By 1842, mobs were attacking the British on the streets of Kabul and the British garrison was forced to abandon the city due to constant civilian attacks.” – from Wikipedia “The Great Game”.

    Do we not learn anything?

  20. IXION says

    Simon

    Shushhhh.

    You have been ready history again.

    When will armchair commentators like us, learn that official govt sponsored truth is that : –

    ‘It’s different this time because….’

    Every US/UK cammo covered stooge should be wearing a mythbusters

    ‘I reject your reality and substitute my own’

    T shirt.

  21. Observer says

    Who knows? Maybe without a foreign presence to provoke them, the attacks will die down in frequency. After all, it was only the presence of Pakistani? troops masquerading as Taliban that they even managed to conquer Afganistan in the first place, so maybe this time, without such overt backing, the mess will die down into something managable. We’ll just have to see. Besides, if it does go down the crapper again, I’m sure we can invade one more time, this time with a scorched earth agenda.

  22. All Politicians are the Same says

    One thing I will say is that they are attacking armed troops on the ground rather than women and children in tube trains and buses.
    We had the TT 2001, Bali 2002, Madrid 2004, London 2005, the failed attack in Glasgow 2007 but successful attack in Algeria and Mumbai in 2008.

    Now some people will insist it is coincidence but the facts are that spectacular attacks on the West have dropped right off as the pressure in Afghanistan is ramped up and several Terrorist figures have been neutralised in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

    Will we leave behind a stable democracy, possibly not but if we left behind a country that did not allow itself to be used as a haven for terror planning it would be a step forward

  23. IXION says

    Observer

    @Scorched earth policy worked well for the USSR – not!

    APATS

    Yep I can agree with that, problem is we are already talking about what elements of the Taliban we will ‘allow’ (I love that bit, like we get any say whatsoever), into Govt.

    So we will leave a country that within months will become an Islamist Fiefdom. Of curse they promise faithfully they will not allow AK back in, But WTF are we supposed to do about it after we have gone?

  24. Phil says

    Get it all out of your system IXION. You’ll feel better.

  25. x says

    @ IXION

    I don’t think the USSR went for a scorched earth policy really. They had what 5% of the army in Afghanistan. If they had gone for scorched earth we wouldn’t be having the problems we have now because there would be nobody there to fight.

  26. TrT says

    “Ixion
    Scorched earth policy worked well for the USSR – not!”

    What scorched earth policy?
    The German population after the second world war was rationed below 800 calories.
    Child mortality hit 65%
    4 million Germans were taken as slaves.

    Every building was pulled down
    90% of the populace was killed,
    the remaining 10% sold as slaves

    The last three are Carthage
    The USSR was remarkably restrained in Afghanistan
    Soldiers “had fun”, but there was no systematic attempt at demographic enhancement

    If you want the Mayor of Kabul to rule the Pashtun borderlands, you need to kill 90% of the populace and import more compliant residents.
    Easy enough, weed killer for pasture lands and crops, nerve gas for herds.

  27. Phil says

    “If you want the Mayor of Kabul to rule the Pashtun borderlands, you need to kill 90% of the populace and import more compliant residents.
    Easy enough, weed killer for pasture lands and crops, nerve gas for herds.”

    Go and crawl back under whatever rock you came from you vile little creature and take your Keyboard Kommando mental masturbation over genocide with you.

    You’re a fucking disgrace.

  28. TrT says

    I just realised, I cant think of anything that means less to me than Phils latest childish outburst.

    No attempt to argue that the USSR did in fact carry out scorched earth, no attempt to rationalise why “its different this time” and the pashtuns really will kneel before the Mayor of Kabul, just straight into the screaming insults.

    Phil, I pity you, I really do.

  29. IXION says

    Phil

    Whatever, I am sure that in whatever reality you exist it’s all hunky dory going to plan etc.

    Everyone else

    Cut the crap!

    We are not going to masacre the afghan population, because, apart from the moral horror and the fact it’s a bit ‘war criminaly’.

    It might just start y’know: – WORLD WAR 3!

    Every Mulla in every Muslim country in the world will call for jihad v west and any muslim ally.

    Still we can kill them as well. So thats a qtr of the worlds pop- better do the rest just to be sure……

  30. IXION says

    Phil

    On the ‘lets masacre everybody idea’ you and I agree it’s bollooks.

  31. Phil says

    Mate honestly go fuck yourself.

    You’re a keyboard cretin banging on about how you’d go about committing genocide.

    Demographic enhancement?

    I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire you pathetic, lamentable sack of fucking dog shit.

    Argue with your opinions? I’d feel less dirty after a cup of tea with Saddam Hussein.

    There’s people on here who I don’t agree with but not one of them has come within a Universe of your level of odious discourse.

    Pity me – whatever pal. Nice try at the psych out.

  32. Observer says

    … actually TrT, if I recall correctly, Phil served in Afganistan. So maybe, just maybe, mind you, he might have a better appreciation of the situation there than you or I?

    And as I pointed out earlier, the initial Taliban conquest was in a large part due to foreign army troops being “loaned” to the group. Their on the ground support was never really that strong, more force majeure than any actual love of the group. Without a 2nd loan of troops, it’s doubtful that they’ll ever regain the control they once had.

  33. Think Defence says

    Can we all calm the fuck down please :)

    TrT, I know this is only the internet but lets put talk of gassing people away shall we

    Line Drawn, carry on…

  34. Phil says

    Observer, its not about serving.

    Any respectable human being can see the genocidal subtext to what he wrote previously.

    Having fun, demographic enhancement, gassing herds, weedkiller for pasture land, killing 90% of the pashtuns.

    It’s odious internet posturing from a mentally enfeebled cretin.

  35. Phil says

    Roger out.

  36. Think Defence says

    Right as a punishment, you can all report to the three newest posts on Think Defence and wallow in a spot culture, take it all in, enjoy, deep breaths and come to an understanding about the all round superiority of a gentleman sapper :)

    Am feeling a post about metal boxes coming on

  37. Phil says

    Must write up my post on Compo and combat rations.

  38. IXION says

    I know lets talk about aircraft carriers- we’ve never done that before…. :)

  39. x says

    This is what happens when we don’t talk about ships.

  40. TrT says

    Ixion
    I must have missed the bit where I said we should commit genocide.
    I merely pointed out we could, replacing the “sh” with a “c” changes things a lot.

    I think we should get out of Ghanners, since we cant win, because we wont commit genocide.
    Even if we “w”ould, we still shouldnt, because the thrice blasted hell isn’t worth the effort.

    Observer
    “actually TrT, if I recall correctly, Phil served in Afganistan. So maybe, just maybe, mind you, he might have a better appreciation of the situation there than you or I?”

    Phil wants to post about his experience there, I’ll read them, he did a bit on triage which was very good.
    He wants to pontificate about his experience, ace.
    But being a combat nurse (dr?) in ghanners for two stints does not make one the sole authority on Afghan history, actually has almost relevance.

    “And as I pointed out earlier, the initial Taliban conquest was in a large part due to foreign army troops being “loaned” to the group.”

    Very True, but not really relevant to what I said.
    The Capital of Afghanistan was moved from Khandahar to Kabul 200 years before the Taliban were even an idea.
    And it was moved, because the hill Pashtuns didnt like their new king, and would have murdered him had he stayed, they didnt like his dad either (the old king), but he would have carried out “demographic enhancement” had they rebelled.

    Your all argueing over the last 5 decades like its the last 5 millenia.

    “Our man”, in Afghanistan is an ethnic, if not literal, descendant of Timur, and they havent been able to control the pashtun borderlands without foreign military aid for, well, most of the last 5 millenia.
    Even Ahmad only managed because he pinched a medium sized army from Persia with which to control the area.

    Unless the Taliban get outside support, he can hold Kabul, but nothing more.
    Unless, and just to be clear, this isnt a suggestion, (and even if it was, none of us makes the decision) some one exterminates the peoples that dont want to be ruled by the Mayor of Kabul.

    Ask, If Timmur couldnt do it, why can Karzai?

    Phil
    “Any respectable human being can see the genocidal subtext to what he wrote previously.”
    Subtext?
    Really?
    You think “you need to kill 90% of the populace” is subtext?

    “Having fun”
    I just assumed everyone was familiar with the Russian attempt?
    There were plenty of examples of bored, frustrated or angry Russian troops killing, torturing or beating random Afghans who caught their attention.
    But as far as I’m aware, none of Russian troops systematically ranking settlements on loyalty grounds, picking losing villages and killing every resident.

  41. Phil says

    @TrT

    Never address me again.

    I’ll stick to winding up IXION and x.

  42. Chris.B. says

    Wonder what’s going on in this thread…. oh my?

    @ Ixion,
    “Yep I can agree with that, problem is we are already talking about what elements of the Taliban we will ‘allow’ (I love that bit, like we get any say whatsoever), into Govt.”
    — Don’t forget Taliban and AQ are two different groups. The Taliban is concerned with Afghanistan and its more limited political ambitions mainly surround this country. Having been ousted from power in a matter of weeks in ’01 they will hopefully learn the lesson; run your country how you like, but if we find more training camps on your soil we’ll be back.

    AQ is the international terrorist group. As long as they’re denied the freedom to move and train that’s what makes the difference. It’s interesting that for the last few years they’ve desperately tried to switch to calling for grass roots attack, like the Fort Hood shooting, that don’t require people to travel to meet them.

    @ TrT,
    Just…. what on Earth? It’s never good practice to turn away potential readers, but if you’re the same TrT who posts infrequently on my blog, then I must ask you to please refrain from doing so from now.

  43. Simon says

    After TD’s little plug about “…how air power delivered from carriers…” might help, I did look at a map and found it interesting that Camp Bastion – the only place we could do with air power at the mo – is out-of-range of the F35B :-(

    Of course, the American’s will be okay with their new F35C :-)

    When they planned their strategy maybe they actually did some homework about the possible hot spots?

    Maybe we should do some homework and design an electric fence that zaps anyone not singing the British National Anthem (or Rule Britannia or Land of Hope and Glory, etc)?

  44. IXION says

    Phil

    You don’t wind me up.

    I am permantly wound up! I find if I spend my life that way. When I encounter the shit that fills my day, I can’t get any more wound up so it’s healthy thats way.

    I currently have 2 clients in my practice that are not at all mad. One thinks he is an FBI agent and the other assures me he has personaly received a pardon from the Queen.

    Even the wanabe genocide merchants on this website are tame compared with what comes thru my door everyday….. I get bigger arseholes that TrT with my morning coffee.

  45. All Politicians are The same says

    Please Simon, It is way too tight to fly a round trip mission even with an F35C from a carrier. You would need to either utilse AAR or the strip at Bastion regardless.
    The US used F18E for strike missions from a Carrier which has shorter legs than an F35B.

  46. Phil says

    Unfortunately I get to deal with a similar class of clientèle.

    I simply have no desire to engage with such type of thinking beyond an initial cathartic broadside.

    And you and I will simply have to agree to disagree on the whole Afghan matter. As much as it pains me that someone on the internet is wrong ;-) neither of us is going to convince the other on the subject.

    My outrage bus has now pulled over into a services for some cake.

  47. IXION says

    Phil

    There is somehwere a wonderful cartoon of a semi naked leather clad hottie reclining suggestivly on a bed. Next to the bed is man frantically typing on a computer.

    The caption is

    ‘Not tonight dear there is someone on the internet who is wrong!’

    :)

  48. TrT says

    Phil
    I’m not entirely sure what makes you think I follow your commands…
    If you dont want people to point out when you are talking shit, dont go on angry rants.

    I note, you havent actually pointed out where the USSR carried out a scorched earth policy? Or explained why Karzai can control what Tamir couldnt?
    But then, why would you, easy to shout, hard to think.

    Chris
    “Having been ousted from power in a matter of weeks in ’01 they will hopefully learn the lesson; run your country how you like, but if we find more training camps on your soil we’ll be back.”
    Exactly my opinion

    “Just…. what on Earth? It’s never good practice to turn away potential readers, but if you’re the same TrT who posts infrequently on my blog, then I must ask you to please refrain from doing so from now.”
    You gotta do what ya gotta do.
    But I’m afraid angry rants get far more hits than reasoned thought, my most hit post remains “how to annoy your local council by varying tax payments”, lagging far behind tend to be baby OCPs (outside context problems*) and then boring crap.

    *Baby, since you can only really do “alien invasion” once

    I lack the knowledge, or the time/inclination to learn, to attack the Afghanistan problem from a cultural conquest problem, IE, putting a controllable pashtun on the throne, or passing off a durani as a hills man.
    Although if anyone has done the work, I’d love to read it.

    That leaves brute force, which despite phils angry shouting, is historically quite normal, the UK signed off on a starvation plan and slavery in living memory.
    The UK armed, trained, informed and protected paramilitaries this generation, to kill its own citizens within its own territory.

    But hey, who cares about facts, especially dirty ones.

  49. Phil says

    “But then, why would you, easy to shout, hard to think.”

    I’ve said my peace you stroker.

    There’s no point wasting your breath.

    Out.

  50. Phil says

    Being proper sad I’ve even contributed to the forum on that site in the past! :)

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