Report Alleges Police Aided Taliban in Attack that Killed Nine
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2008 Afghan police aided a complex attack on coalition positions in the Wanat complex in Afghanistan in July, according to a report released by Pentagon officials today.
The report, sent to the commander of Combined Joint Task Force 101 in Afghanistan, said the Taliban attack on Vehicle Patrol Base Wanat in Kunar province was complex, coordinated and aided by local police officials.
Nine Americans were killed in the attack, and 27 were wounded. Four Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack.
A total of 72 American and Afghan troops stood off more than 200 Taliban insurgents in the action on July 13, according to the report. Forty-six soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as two Marines, were embedded with the Afghan forces.
The enemy had inside intelligence on the base at Wanat, the report says. First, they diverted water to flow into an adjacent field, which negated any listening devices. Then when the attack started, the enemy hit the mortar pit and TOW missile vehicle first. They also attacked and overwhelmed an observation point near the vehicle patrol base.
Finally, the enemy approached the base from an area where they should have been plainly visible from the Afghan police station, according to the report. In the past, the police garrison “was uncommunicative at best, deliberately failing to inform U.S. and [Afghan National Army] leaders at the VPB about a meeting with locals about security in the area,” the report says.
Though the report is scrubbed to stop sensitive information from being disclosed, the heroism of the coalition forces comes across clearly. Though their attackers benefitted from inside knowledge, the report says U.S. and Afghan Army forces did not panic, maintained stern discipline and displayed incredible heroism in the face of a surprise attack. While the observation point was overrun, soldiers manned fighting positions and made the enemy pay dearly.
After the battle, Afghan commandos immediately went to the district center and disarmed 20 Afghan police.
“The coalition forces and Afghan commandos noted that the ANP station and district station appeared untouched by the fighting,” the report said. “This was noteworthy because although it was out of the avenues of approach the [enemy] used to enter Wanat. Soldiers also noted that the ANP personnel appeared to be wearing crisp, clean uniforms. This was unusual since most ANP only have one uniform, and it typically appears dirty and well-worn.”
The police also behaved as if nothing had happened, the report says. The Afghan commandos searched the station and found more than 100 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, shotguns and more. “All for a police force of 20 individuals,” the report said. Many of the weapons had recently been fired.