An audacious Taliban attack on a heavily fortified base in southern Afghanistan did far more damage than initially reported, destroying or severely damaging eight attack jets in the most destructive single strike on Western matériel in the 11-year war, military officials said Sunday.
While other attacks have caused greater loss of life, the assault late Friday at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, one of the largest and best-defended posts in Afghanistan, was troubling to NATO because the attackers were able to penetrate the base, killing two Marines and causing more than $200 million in damage. “We’re saying it’s a very sophisticated attack,” said a military official here. “We’ve lost aircraft in battle, but nothing like this.” …
The military investigation into the attack at Bastion is now trying to uncover whether the insurgents had help from inside the camp and whether they were trained or aided by neighboring countries, such as Pakistan or Iran, which have allowed the Taliban to take refuge on their territory. But military officials and Afghan analysts said that the insurgents may well have prepared for their mission in significant measure by studying easily available satellite images on the Internet. “We don’t underestimate the enemy,” the military official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation. “We know the enemy has limited capability to do these, but they are not a whole bunch of yokels running around the country.” …
Wahid Mujda, an Afghan analyst who tracks the Taliban, said that despite the Taliban’s statement that the attack was retaliation for an anti-Muslim video, the video almost certainly had nothing to do with it.
“I do not think that the Camp Bastion attack had anything to do with the anti-Prophet movie,” Mr. Mujda said. “Given the sophistication of the attack one can say with a lot of confidence that the Taliban had been training, rehearsing and preparing for weeks and even months. Everything was not planned and decided overnight.”
He predicted that the Afghan government and the international military forces here would see similar attacks in the future.
“They have experts, strategists, planners and designers, they have a great knowledge of the modern technology,” Mr. Mujda said.
“My sources in the Taliban tell me that every time they want to attack an important target they use Google Maps and other available means for studying and understanding their targets.”
Source of photos below: UK Ministry of Defence imagery website, selected from 369 photos of Camp Bastion and from the US Department of Defense imagery server, selected for over 500 photos on Camp Bastion
Camp Bastion Afghanistan Photos
Photograph shows Royal Air Force Chinook Mk2 helicopters from 1310 Flight taking off from Camp Bastion airfield in Helmand, Afghanistan. The Joint Helicopter Force (AFGHANISTAN) or JHF (A) is a deployed tri-Service unit from the Joint Helicopter Command. Its primary purpose is to facilitate tactical mobility, reconnaissance and Aviation Fires support to the UK task force in Helmand Province and to the multi-national force of Regional Command (South). October 31, 2011. MoD
Photograph shows an Army Air Corps Apache Longbow helicopter landing at Camp Bastion airfield, Afghanistan. The Joint Helicopter Force (AFGHANISTAN) or JHF (A) is a deployed tri-Service unit from the Joint Helicopter Command. Its primary purpose is to facilitate tactical mobility, reconnaissance and Aviation Fires support to the UK task force in Helmand Province and to the multi-national force of Regional Command (South). October 31, 2011. MoD
A Royal Navy Sea King Mk4 helicopter is pictured over Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Royal Navy Sea King Mk4 helicopters from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons normally based with Commando Helicopter Force at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, flying as part of the Joint Helicopter Force Afghanistan in support of current operations in Afghanistan. October 5, 2011. MoD
Royal Navy Sea King Mk4 helicopters from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons normally based with Commando Helicopter Force at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, flying as part of the Joint Helicopter Force Afghanistan in support of current operations in Afghanistan. The helicopters are pictured flying over Camp Bastion, Helmand province. September 28, 2011. MoD
An RAF C-130 Hecules aircraft is seen taking off from Camp Bastion Airfield, Afghanistan. The C-130 fleet are part of 904 Expeditionary Air Wing. 904 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) is the RAF Headquarters element based at Kandahar airfield, which is a strategically vital location just ten miles from Afghanistan’s second city comprising of 1.2 million people. Kandahar is one of the world’s busiest airfields, with over 400 aircraft and a quarter of a million aircraft movements every year. It is home to a diverse mix of nations operating a vast range of platforms including RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS), helicopters, strategic and tactical lift such as the RAF C-130, civilian and contractor aircraft and a large number of fast jets including F16, Mirage 2000, FA-18, A-10 and the RAF Tornado GR4. These aircraft operate in harmony to provide critical support to the Land Forces and contribute to the ISAF mission to stabilise and develop Afghanistan. The C-130J Hercules is used in the tactical support role. It is capable of operating from unprepared austere airstrips, and operates in support of Land Forces by moving troops and delivering supplies through air drop. Both aircraft types operate extensively in support of British troops, but are also in demand across the entire operating area and will frequently support Coalition Forces across the whole of Afghanistan. July 5, 2011. MoD
A Mastiff Armoured vehicle is pictured in front of a Wolfhound. The 2nd Royal Tank Regiment’s Falcon Squadron, based in Tidworth, Hants, have arrived at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province and are conducting their final training – known as RSOI – before going out on the ground. RSOI – or the Reception Staging and Onward Integration package, to give it its full title – is mandatory for all soldiers entering Afghanistan. Here the guys have a last practice of their skills in the conditions they will face out on the ground. They are also taught the enemy’s latest techniques by soldiers returning from their tour of duty. May 1, 2011. MoD
A Royal Air Force aircrewman leaves an RAF Merlin Helicopter at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan following a successful mission. This image was a winner in the Royal Air Force Photographic Competition 2010. July 7, 2010. MoD
Pictured is the Joint Theatre Education Centre at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Camp Bastion is the main headquarters for British Forces in Afghanistan. December 13, 2009. MoD
The sign at the entrance way to Camp Bastion in Helmand, Afghanistan. Camp Bastion is the main headquarters for British Forces in Afghanistan. Within it’s perimeter are an airfield, offices and accommodation. December 12, 2009. MoD
The two tier accommodation blocks at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan. Camp Bastion is the headquarters for British Forces in Afghanistan. December 13, 2009. MoD
Pictured is the Church at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan where troops of several different denominations are able to worship. Designed not only as a worship centre for the military personnel in Camp Bastion, it also provides a haven in the midst of a very robust and exhausting working environment and is used almost constantly by day and through the evenings. Camp Bastion is the main headquarters for British Forces in Afghanistan. December 13, 2009. MoD
A Jackal Armoured Vehicle is put through it’s paces at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. The Jackal is a highly manoeuvreable Mobility Weapon-Mounted Installation Kit (MWMIK) vehicle that dramatically improves upon the adapted Land Rover WMIK previously used in theatre. April 2, 2008. MoD
The Medical Treatment Facility at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. The Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), which is housed in one of the few solid buildings at Bastion replaces the tented field hospital that has been used since 2003. The temperature-controlled building allows the medics to better avoid the heat, cold or dust that come with the Helmand territory. With a fully equipped operating theatre supporting two operating tables, the MTF also supports up to six beds for the most critically injured in an Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU). Two general wards handle patients with recovery needs and there are an additional two separate, private rooms, supplying a total capacity of 37 beds, with room for expansion. February 9, 2008. MoD
An aerial image of the Royal Marine Armoured Support Troop (AST) as they move their Viking all terrain vehicles from Kandahar to Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. October 21, 2006. MoD
Images following from the US Department of Defense imagery server, selected for over 500 on Camp Bastion
The American flag flies at half-staff outside the hangar of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2012. The squadron held a ceremony to honor six Marines who were killed when their CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones/Released)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mark Sabatino, a plane captain with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369, performs maintenance on an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones/Released)
U.S. Marines render a gunfighter salute during an awards ceremony in honor of Sgt. Christopher Lemke, a mechanic with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369, at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Jan. 12, 2012. Lemke discovered a previously unknown issue with a UH-1Y Venom aircraft that represented an extreme risk to the aircraft and aircrew. Lemke was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Jones/Released)
U.S. Marines and Coalition Forces run in a half-marathon on New Year’s Day, aboard Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, January 1, 2012. The event was held to raise money for the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association, an organization dedicated to helping UK troops who have lost limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy L. Solano)
U.S. Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369 raise their arms as a UH-1Y Venom helicopter takes off Dec. 5, 2011, at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Marines with HMLA-369 raise their arms as a form of saluting to wish pilots and other crew members a safe mission. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert R. Carrasco/Released)
British Soldiers offload from a UH-60 Blackhawk to pick up an injured Afghan Uniformed Policeman aboard forward operating base Jackson, Sangin, Afghanistan Oct. 2, 2011. The policeman was transported to Camp Bastion for further medical care. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Armando Mendoza/Released)