The report below about the incredible loss of American airpower that was lost happened last week. Sadly, even in the media, there was no reporting of the incident. It seems that the news was hidden for political reasons, not because it was not known. However, John Hudson with The Atlantic broke the story.
The Taliban attack on an air base in southern Afghanistan on Friday drew coverage for the way the insurgents cloaked themselves in U.S. army uniforms to gain a tactical advantage, but few have taken note of the historical proportions of the damage inflicted. John Gresham, at the Defense Media Network, has published a detailed account of the attack on Camp Bastion, in which two Marines were killed, six U.S. Marine Corps jet fighters were destroyed, and two more “significantly” damaged. Those facts were all carried in most reports, but if that just sounds like a typical damage report from a decade-long war, you’re wrong. Gresham explains the devastating damage done to VMA-211, the name of the Marine Corps attack squadron that was most affected last week, noting that it is “arguably the worst day in [U.S. Marine Corps] aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968.” Or you could go back even further. “The last time VMA-211 was combat ineffective was in December 1941, when the squadron was wiped out during the 13-day defense of Wake Island against the Japanese.”
The attack on Camp Bastion began at around 10:00 PM local time, when about 20 Taliban fighters approached the perimeter, disguised in U.S. battle dress uniforms. One of the Taliban used his explosive suicide vest to blow a hole in the perimeter fence, which reportedly allowed three five-man sapper squads into the secured areas of the base. Armed with AK-47s, RPG-7s and explosive suicide vests, the Taliban fighters flooded into the U.S. area known as Camp Barber.
As they began to attack the flightline areas, however, the RAF security force began to react within just 12 minutes, when they established an MQ-9 Reaper UAV orbit over the camp. This was followed by the launch of a British Apache helicopter that immediately engaged the insurgents, killing several. In addition, the British ground security force began to fight its way toward Camp Barber over the main runway, reportedly expending around 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the process. It took five hours to secure the base and police up the insurgents.
When the sun rose the next day, the deadly cost of the Taliban raid began to be seen. Fourteen of the 15 insurgent sappers were killed, along with two of their support force outside the fence. One insurgent was wounded and captured, and is providing useful information on this latest “Green on Blue” Taliban attack. The Allied casualties, however, are proving heartbreaking. Killed during the attack were Lt. Col. Christopher “Otis” K. Raible, USMC (the commander of VMA-211) and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell (from Marine Air Logistics Squadron 13), both based at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Ariz.
The only “good” news about the attack was that Prince Harry was unharmed. He appears to have been one of the targets of the Taliban attack (his birthday was Sept. 15), and was taken to a “safe area” of the base and given extra security.
Whatever the organizational outcome, the Sept. 14, 2012 attack on Camp Bastion is arguably the worst day in USMC aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968. The last time VMA-211 was combat ineffective was in December 1941, when the squadron was wiped out during the 13-day defense of Wake Island against the Japanese.
It just goes to show how desensitizing a decade of war can be. With casualty counts streaming in the news every day, it’s easy to miss historically devastating milestones that crop up. As an aside, if you want to see a really smart visual recreation of the attack, watch Brian Todd’s CNN segment on the attack here.
This has nothing to do with “desensitization” — if that’s even a word. If the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating to this point and to the point where we’re no longer able to protect our servicemen from our supposed Afghan allies during joint operations, I think the American people want to know this. Either we’re there to win this thing or we are not, and if we’re not, let’s get the hell out.
But the way in which the media told the story of this wildly successful Taliban attack isn’t about perspective, it’s about context — context extremely damaging to an Obama Administration that’s puffed out its chest as National Security Heroes.
Not only is it reprehensible that the national media didn’t alert the American people, but if the case is that they did it to protect Barack Obama from a bad political outcome, then it is all the more sinister.