Published: Tuesday, 08 November 2011 15:44
08 November 2011
Forward Operating Base Pasab is in the upper left corner of this image. It’s the little rectangle looking area bristling with machine guns. Well, you can’t see the machine guns in this picture, but they are there. One time I walked by a guard post and didn’t see anyone in it. I walked up to see if everyone was dead or something (highly unlikely), but the Afghan guards were just gone! They had completely left their post. Needless to say, I pulled out of there very fast and told a senior NCO and an officer at 4-4 Cav. Good grief. Many of our bases are guarded by Afghans.
Anyway, I made this image while flying with an excellent helicopter crew who often flies top cover for unarmed Dustoffs. The bird from which this image was made had a machine gun on each door. Not exactly mini-guns or .50 calibers, but at least it had guns. On this day, the crew was not on a medical mission, but performing routine tasks and was kind enough to fly me from Kandahar Airfield to various places on their route, then drop me off at Pasab (one of their scheduled stops). When we landed, there happened to be a quick ceremony on for an Afghan commander who had been blown up that day. Soldiers told me that one of our helicopters was about to fly his remains to his home village, and so this was a farewell to what both Americans and Afghans would say was a respected commander.
I stayed at FOB Pasab for about the next ten weeks and made some good friends. Emails come in every day from people at Pasab. Yesterday, a message said that strikes on base have become a more or less daily occurrence. A message came in today, Tuesday, saying that there were two more strikes on base yesterday. The direct fire strikes probably came from a 82mm recoilless rifle. The 82 is a powerful weapon that will easily destroy our MRAPs. As you can imagine from this image, the “rockets” don’t come from the desert, but from the green zone. The enemy is audacious and has been known to drive on the highway in front of Pasab and to shoot grenades inside. That’s audacity. But to shoot a rocket from the desert at Pasab would not be audacious; it would be ignorant, and Darwin would collect his own. It’s difficult to hit specific targets on base because Pasab and the firing locations are mostly flat, and there are barriers all over base. Sometimes the rounds fly straight over and explode in the desert. If you are asleep, it can be hard to know if the explosions were a dream or real, unless the alarms go off. There are so many explosions that strikes on base are the least of it. Airstrikes, IED strikes, controlled detonations, and others. It’s common to hear or see the Apaches firing, or to watch strafing runs from A-10s and F-18s. It becomes as normal as crickets. Though Kandahar is big for car bombs, the area around Pasab is not.
More troops will be hurt and killed in the area you see in this image. Practically every day, casualty notifications come to my email from ISAF HQ in Kabul. Two came on Sunday. This was the first:
KABUL, Afghanistan (Nov. 6) – An International Security Assistance Force service member died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan yesterday.
It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.
There is a fair chance the attack took place in the green zone in this image, or that a casualty had to wait for Dustoff due to poor Army policy. On the morning that Chazray Clark was hit, a Dustoff helicopter was parked at Pasab. Chazray lay dying 2 – 3 minutes’ flight away from where the Dustoff was parked. The Dustoff was not allowed to launch without Apache support, causing a terrible delay described in RED AIR and documented on my video in Fool’s Gold & Troops’ Blood. The attack took place in the green zone close to Pasab and will be within the field of view of this image. The attack was so close to where the Dustoff was parked that the pilots may even have heard in the distance the explosion when Chazray was hit.
Congressman Mike Pompeo’s (Kansas) office contacted me yesterday saying that the Army is to report to Congress on the MEDEVAC issue. Yet something rings untrue from Pompeo’s office. Something is off. My instinct is that Pompeo has already sided with the Army or may avoid the issue where possible. There is reason to believe this is true, but this is not established as fact. Constituents in Kansas who care about this issue might consider asking Congressman Pompeo to state his position.
Congressman Pompeo: Do you believe Army Dustoff helicopters should go into hot landing zones unarmed?
Interested parties can forward their own queries to Congressman Pompeo’s office:
James L. Richardson
Office of Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS-04)
107 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6216 (o)
Congressman Mike Pompeo on Facebook.