Wikileaks, the Swedish nonprofit that released the damning video depicting U.S. Army helicopter pilots gunning down Iraqi reporters, has dropped another bomb: tens of thousands of classified U.S. and NATO reports on the fighting in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009. I’ll be sifting through the reports for added context on my own reporting over the years.
In June 2007, a force of several hundred Taliban fighters assaulted Afghan militia positions in the town of Chora, near Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. Nearby Dutch and Australian forces were drawn into the fight. Several days of fierce fighting killed more than 100 Dutch, Afghan and Taliban combatants and civilians. Many of the civilians died in errant strikes by Dutch artillery, helicopters and F-16s.
The documents leaked to Wikileaks shed light on the fighting, describing a Taliban force capable of persistent, distributed operations coordinating small arms, rockets and mortars. The reports also highlight NATO’s reliance on heavy firepower to disrupt Taliban movements. Excerpts organized by date, below:
“At 0330Z [Task Force] Uruzgan reported an unknown number of enemy forces engaging with small arms fire and RPGs 13 kilometers north of Tarin Kowt. A dismounted patrol moved towards a suspicious compound. Mounted party in over-watch to support dismounted party.”
“At 0709Z TF Uruzgan reported unknown number of insurgents engaging friendly forces with small-arms fire 33 kilometers [from] Tarin Kowt District Center. [Friendly forces] moved to the west. This event reopened at 1255Z when three enemy engaged them with small arms and RPGs … Fixed-wing assets engaged with strafe.”
“At 1058Z TF Uruzgan reported a offensive engagement 38 kilometers northwest of Tarin Kowt [district center]. Ten insurgents were positively identified at known qalats to be owned by insurgents, TFU dropped four GBU-12s on the insurgents positions; two on mortar positions; two on qalats. All four were direct hits on target, all positions were destroyed.”
“At 1235Z TF Uruzgan reported insurgents on a hilltop observing friendly forces 18 kilometers north of Tarin Kowt, handing over equipment to include small arms. TF Uruzgan fired harassing fire 155-millimeter [artillery] at the insurgents and they fled.”
“At 1730Z TF Uruzgan reports that insurgents are engaging with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades … Afghanistan National Police checkpoint returned fire.”
“At 0315Z TF Uruzgan reported unknown number of insurgents engaging with small-arms fire and RPGs 11 kilometers northeast of Tarin Kowt DC … ANP returned fire. No casualties were reported.”
“At 0748Z TF Uruzgan reported two vehicles and 10 insurgents engaged with small-arms fire 14 kilometers north of Tarin Kowt district center. Friendly forces are engaging insurgents with direct fire and 81-millimeter [mortars] from PB Poentjak.”
“At 0722Z TF Uruzgan reported nine insurgents engaged with small-arms fire, RPGs and a heavy machine gun. Two insurgents were KIA and friendly forces returned direct fire.” [A total of five insurgents was eventually reported killed.]
“At 0225Z TF Uruzgan reports that insurgents engaged friendly forces with small arms fire … Friendly forces are returning fire at this time.” [One insurgent was reported killed.]