After reading about the outstanding job of 2nd platoon, Company B, 1/26 INF in the Korangal River Valley it reminded me ofÂ some of the experiences I had working on the Afghan-Pakistan border of Paktika Province in 2006-07.
I had a jointÂ observation post (OP) comprisedÂ from a platoon ofÂ my Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and a platoon from the 10th MTN that was assigned to FOB Tillman.Â In the early morning hours on June 20, 2006 we came under a well coordinated attack of Â intense enemy machine gun and RPG Â fire.Â In the initial few minutes of the attack, the enemy was able toÂ knock out our heavy weapons with wellÂ aimed fires. We quickly went through our claymores as weÂ were soon surrounded by approximately 100 bad guys and they were too close to effectively use our artillery and airÂ assets.Â As the NY Times article discussed critical times in a battle that can lead toÂ getting out of hand, this was that point in this battleÂ .Â Â Â
What kept the tide of this battle from totally turning against theÂ good guyÂ side was discipline, pure intenseÂ will, and a little bit of luck.Â With the Americans using great trigger discipline and target selection, the intensity of the ANA fires (until they ran out of ammo!), and poor quality of the Taliban’s hand grenades (there were 5 that didn’t explode outside of our bunkers) we were able to hold onto this important OP that isÂ only a few hundredÂ meters from the Pakistan border.Â This firefight lasted for over 2 hours. Â We believe the bad guys had also run out of ammo and that was the reason theyÂ withdrew fromÂ this well coordinated assault.Â Most of the Americans had less then 10 rounds andÂ someÂ with only their knives left.
Luckily the Americans only had a few scratches and just one of my ANAÂ soldiers was woundedÂ (he would fully recover from his gunshot wounds to the back and hand after a few weeks) during this intense early morning firefight.Â I respected our enemy before this fight but was impressed even more after this with their solid coordination of fire and maneuver tactics.Â As they retreated back across the border we counted 43 enemy personnel carrying 8 bodies.Â Those were the ones we could see and in that terrain, for everyone you see, there is usually 2-3 more around.Â What really added insult to injury was the route the bad guys took back into Pakistan; they went directly next to a Pakistan Military post, our allies on this porous border.Â They are our allies as much as I’m the next President of the United States.
Live free or die trying!