Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 17, 2014 -- Under Attack!

I know many of you have already seen the posts on my Facebook page, but for those that haven't or don't have Facebook, I was asked to share.

On July 17, 2014, I was awakened at about 0420 to a large explosion. That was not (that) unusual. What followed was a lot of small arms fire. That was different. I quickly threw on my gear over my pajamas and headed around the corner to the BDOC (Base Defense Operations Center), as I always do for attacks. It's there that we control the base response.

That day, the insurgents must have been saving up. They had taken up a position in a high-rise complex across the street from the Afghan Air Force Base our compound is on and began their attack. Over the next five hours, they set off a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED, or car bomb) and launched over 17 RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) in the first 20 minutes, as well as machine gun fire.  Below is a picture of the building they were shooting from.

Within two minutes, we had reinforced the towers and pushed out two Quick Reaction Force vehicles. We were in the fight.  We put down over 3000 rounds of fire (note the pock marks in the picture above), which kept the insurgents ducking. Two of my guys dismounted their vehicle and took up a position only 100 yards away, exchanging fire. One of them took down two of the insurgents.  One of the guys in the towers took down another two.  

At one point we saw what looked to be a resupply point on the mountain to the rear, so we laid down some fire on that point as well, disrupting that.  Capt Phillips, my head cop, told me that with that resupply point, they were going to keep it up until we got some better firepower on them, so we called in for air and ground support.  Finally, after about two hours, an Afghan team arrived and cleared out all the high-rise buildings, eliminating all the remaining insurgents.  While the Afghan team ultimately ended the attack, if it had not been for my team of Defenders, it certainly would have been much worse. We likely would have suffered casualties and many more facilities damaged.  They weren't out of RPGs and ammo when they were finally killed.  We also kept them ducking so they couldn't fire effectively.

Our historian tells us this was the longest Air Force firefight since Vietnam.  And my guys were nothing short of heroic and phenomenal. Our Public Affairs did a nice job putting together some pictures with quotes from the guys.  What I like about it is that it shows how heroic they were while also clearly portraying them as real people that have to screw up their courage in the face of danger.  I haven't nearly captured all of what happened that day here, but let me just tell you that this was extremely intense for every one of us, and each of us has our stories.  

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