Coalition Finds Weapons, Targets Taliban in Air Strike
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 Coalition forces confiscated weapons caches in five Afghanistan locations yesterday, and a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber struck a terrorist stronghold May 17, military officials reported.
Forces discovered seven mortar rounds, three rocket-propelled grenade rounds and three rockets near Bagram Air Base in Parwan province. A second cache consisting of 100 mortar rounds was discovered near Bagram after an Afghan citizen reported the cache to coalition forces. A coalition patrol sent to the location determined all the rounds were in working order. Afghan National Army soldiers took control of the rounds.
"Recovering and disposing of these weapons increases the safety and security of Afghans, and reduces the danger in the area posed by criminals and insurgents who might use those munitions indiscriminately to cause harm on the Afghan people, Afghan security forces or coalition forces," said Army Lt. Col Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman.
During a separate cordon-and-search operation in Puree Khel in Khost province, coalition forces found a small cache of munitions including ammunition, a hand grenade and anti-coalition propaganda.
Near Forward Operating Base Sarkoni, an Afghan citizen turned in a weapons cache to coalition forces. The cache included 29 mortar rounds, 67 mortar fuses, 16 mortar launchers, 22 sighting periscopes, six recoilless rifle rounds and 27 projectile rounds. The cache was deemed unserviceable and destroyed.
The B-1B bomber struck a Taliban-associated compound late May 17 near Kandahar. The bomber responded to an immediate air-support request with one GBU-38, Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. It destroyed the compound from which Taliban members were attacking coalition ground forces. Officials said 15 to 20 Taliban were killed from the air strike.
Officials said the terrorists were active members of the Taliban network who had conducted attacks against coalition and Afghan forces. They also attacked Afghan government officials and are suspected of building roadside bombs and of training other enemy fighters, officials added.
U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials said this was the first use of a GBU-38 by a B-1B in a combat environment. The Air Force recently added a new software package to the bomber that allows it to carry and deliver this guided weapon, they explained.
The GBU-38, a 500-pound bomb, is a precision weapon that allows warfighters to focus their strikes and minimize collateral damage.
"With the new software package and this precision weapon, we can target and eliminate the terrorist threat in close quarters," said Maj. Gen. Allen Peck, deputy Combined Forces Air Component commander for U.S. Central Command. "We're able to better support our coalition ground forces and significantly reduce the possibility of civilian casualties."
(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)