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Posted on Aug 3, 2012 in War College

Special Report From Afghanistan: The Frontier of Freedom

By Pat Proctor

A Joint US-Afghan Patrol in Kunar

Picture 1 of 4

May 3, 2012. Pfc. Jeffrey Penning of Task Force Red Warrior (1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment) and an Afghan Security Guard pull security during a roving guard at Observation Post Mustang, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. OP Mustang is part of the network of OPs that protects Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bostick, the forward-most US position in eastern Afghanistan. (Army Sgt. Trey Harvey)

Forward Operating Base (FOB) Bostick, in the rugged mountains of northern Kunar Province, is the frontline of a war without frontlines. Every day, Task Force Red Warrior (1st Battalion, 12th Infantry) is locked in a pitched battle with insurgents to extend the reach of Afghan national security forces into this remote land. Beyond this treacherous frontier lies an untamed land, the foreboding interior of Nuristan province, home to a hostile and insular Afghan minority – the salafist Islamist Nuristanis – who play host to a rogue’s gallery of insurgents from Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters to the tattered remnants of al Qaeda.

From four tiny observation posts (OPs), Charlie Company protects the Red Warriors from the insurgent forces stalking the high mountains that overlook the FOB. American forces expend thousands of pounds of munitions every week – from mortars, howitzers, attack helicopters, and bombers – to keep insurgents at bay. Sometimes even this massive amount of firepower is not enough. In May, two artillerymen from the Gunslingers (1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery), while manning their M777 lightweight 155 mm howitzer at FOB Bostick, were killed by a well-placed shot from a Taliban 82mm recoilless rifle that hit their ammunition stores.

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But the Red Warriors are giving the insurgents as good as they get. Every week they add to the long list of insurgents killed or captured in northern Kunar. Yet, Lt. Col. Scott Green, the Red Warrior’s commander, would be the first to say that this isn’t enough. With an endless supply of young men from madrasas in Pakistan and the U.S. set to leave at the end of 2014, his most important job is not killing insurgents, but preparing the Afghans to continue the fight without him.

The good news is that the Afghan National Army (ANA) is taking steady steps in that direction. The 3d Battalion, 2d Brigade of the Flood Corps (201st ANA Corps) are living, fighting, and dying right alongside their U.S. partners defending FOB Bostick. Even more impressive, the 3d battalion has pushed a company forward, beyond the furthest U.S. positions, into the volatile Kamdesh River Valley, just inside Nuristan, to reinforce the beleaguered Afghan Uniform Police stubbornly defending their tiny, fortress-like district center. The Afghans are even beginning to break their dependence on U.S. logistics; the fledgling Afghan Air Force has completed multiple resupplies of this position with its own Mi-17 helicopters.

The Afghans are still far from independent. The frequent Taliban attacks, intended to overwhelm Afghan positions in the Kamdesh, are only repelled with the assistance of American close air support. But this Afghan successes – on the doorstep of Nuristan – is beginning to have an impact. Recently Mullah Sadiq, commander of Hezb-i-Islami insurgents in northern Kunar and southeastern Nuristan, like fellow commanders in the lush Nerkh Valley of Wardak Province and the arid plains of Andar in Ghazni Province, ended his insurgency and joined the government cause.

Here at the north-easternmost extent of the 1st Infantry Division’s area of operations, the frontline of freedom might just be moving slowly forward.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

About the Author
Lt.Col. Pat Proctor is currently deployed to eastern Afghanistan, serving as the chief of plans for the 1st Infantry Division. He is a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan wars and the author of Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq. He is also a doctoral candidate in history at Kansas State University.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks, Pat, for the update on the situation in your area; having this viewpoint really enhances an indivdual’s ability to assess the news the news coming in from other sources. Is there a potential book coming out of your experiences from this tour of duty for you? Maybe a update for your “Media War” book for the changed circumstances of what is essentially a “forgotten war”?

    BTW I have also passed on your “Media War” book to folks in the pro-Israel blogosphere, as I believe that Israel-supporters, the IDF, and the Israeli government have similar issues to address as the US Military found in Iraq.

    Also, still playing the AATF series, and enjoying it, immensely. The SATC scenarios provided a critical role in helping me understrand portions of Avraham Rabinovich’s book on the ’73 War, and the Second War scenarios did the same duty for my current reading of Larry Bonds’ book, “Red Phoenix”. Two questions regarding the series: 1.) Will the game-system be re-done to the standards reached in the Armchair General ‘Iraq 2003′ scenarios? & 2.) Is a successor covering the Indo-Pakistan wars possible?

    Thanks, and be well.

    • Heiden,

      Thank you so much for the great feedback!

      I would love to write a book about my experiences over here. The problem might be getting someone to publish it! I sense a great deal of war fatigue back in the states, and it is certainly reflected in what publishers are willing to print. Maybe someday…

      To your other questions…

      1.) Will the game-system be re-done to the standards reached in the Armchair General ‘Iraq 2003′ scenarios?

      The game system probably will not be revamped. However, if you have AATF, you can install the Iraq 2003 engine right over the top of AATF and give it an instant upgrade! The systems are all backward compatible, right through ATF. You can even install AATF over ATF and play the old scenarios in the new engine.

      2.) Is a successor covering the Indo-Pakistan wars possible?

      I am on hiatus from game development while I finish my finish my dissertation for my history PhD. Again, maybe someday… Life is so short to have so many things I want to do!

      • Thanks, Pat, for your answers re: my gaming questions, I’ll see about overlaying the Iraq 2003 engine, post-haste! IMHO I think the apparent dearth of publishing interest in subjects military is not as bad as you may think, and, even if it could be the case, should provide no brake to the project. Any light shed for the home-front on over-the-horizon events such as the one you’re currently involved with, personally, can only be for the good.

        Be well, and stay safe,

        D. Heiden

        P.S. heading over to your Kunar installment, now……

  2. the fontier of freedom? no knock against the foot soldiers who have to die there but lets face it.. heroin output has increased 13% since we invaded and the invasion is based on false flag on 911.

    just like in vietnam with gulf of tonkin and air america running the smack. thats all it is to the elites. that and the huge stash of lithium.

    why do our boys have to die to make these colonial drug running elite more cash? the average foot solider pays the ultimate price and gets nothing in return.

    we want our boys home. we love you. smedley butler was right.

  3. My son is about to board a plain for Bostick in a few hrs and he said they told them to run when they get off. I am so concerned for him. An we have a whole 9 mths to go. Please pray for his strength, courage an for him to b watchfull. Thank you.

    • Things have calmed down there a bit since this article was written. I am sure he will be fine.

    • Denise, I will pray for your son’s safety. My son was sent to FOB Bostick from Kalagush the first week in August. It sounds like they are still fighting and I worry about him every day. I pray for his and all of our soldiers’ safe and speedy return home. The politicians so quick to send our loved one’s to fight in this war (yes, WAR) in Afghanistan would feel differently if it was one of their own. God Bless them All and Keep them Safe

  4. We wouldn’t be fighting over the terrain we once held if our command hadn’t invalidated our past sacrifices by abandoning our old outposts. 4 years we fought and bled for the Korengal and kept those scumbags bottled up in there, then we disgracefully run away and let them crawl all over it. Good luck to all who still endure under the chain of idiots in command.

  5. Oh and if anyone wants to read about the FIRST time we went into Kamdesh with ANA, check out the book “Kamdesh” by James F Christ on AMazon.

    James is a first rate documentary writer and has told our story from the frontline viewpoint.

  6. Bring our Soldiers home from Afghanistan and Iraq!!
    - DJ Uncle Tyrone

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