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The Battle of Wanat Revealed, Sort Of
by James Dunnigan
November 20, 2008

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Last July 13th, the Taliban managed to carry out a surprise attack on a new base being built in the Afghan town of Wanat. A force of 72 U.S. and Afghan troops suffered 39 casualties (nine U.S. dead, and 26 American and four Afghan wounded). The 200 Taliban suffered about a hundred casualties (up to fifty dead, but it was difficult to get an exact count because smart bombs were used, which tend to blow bodies apart, and the Taliban will try to drag their dead away, to prevent identification.)

The U.S. Army investigated the battle, but did not answer the question of why it took so long (95 minutes) for MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) helicopters to arrive. It also took nearly two hour (108 minutes) for the first reinforcements to show up. Before then, there was artillery support (over 90 shells), smart bombs, Hellfire missiles (from a Predator UAV) and a helicopter gunship. The UAVs and AH-64s arrived within 30 minutes. There are still questions about U.S. intelligence work, and how the Taliban were able to assemble that large a force, so close to U.S. troops, without being detected.

The Taliban attack was carried out early in the morning (4:20 AM) after the enemy has sneaked into town and told the locals to leave. These same civilians had warned the coalition force that the Taliban were going to attack. But those warning had been coming daily, since the troops moved into Wanat on July 8th and began building an FOB (Forward Operating Base) in an area about 300 meters long and 100 meters wide. There was also an outpost on small hill 50 meters away, manned by nine troops. Two thirds of the defending troops were American. The enemy attack was well planned, with the Taliban firing from three sides. The enemy tried to overrun the base, and at one point some of them entered through a breach in a wall, but were killed or forced back. The battle lasted four hours, ending when the Taliban survivors pulled out. U.S. troops moved out of Wanat on July 15th.

The Taliban tried to make this out to be a big victory, but there was never any video released, as is usually the case with real or imagined victories. Apparently their video guy was blown up, as no video cameras were found among all the debris.

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