19 May 2010

Who needs imagination?

For the last few days, I've been participating as an exercise controller in a "white cell" staff exercise, replicating Afghanistan. I needed to set the scene for the day's training scenario; to use my imagination to come up with a likely enemy situation.

Unfortunately, I didn't even need to use my imagination this morning. I just read the front page of the newspaper to the participants.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents launched a brazen assault on the American base at Bagram on Wednesday morning, sparking a large and confusing gun battle that left at least five American soldiers wounded and seven guerrillas dead.

Taliban leaders claimed that seven suicide bombers had blown themselves up at the gates of the base, clearing the way for more than 20 other fighters to get inside. The Taliban reports appeared exaggerated, as they often are. But American officials confirmed that the base, one of the largest in Afghanistan, had come under an ambitious and unusual assault.

An American official said that the base had come under attack by as many as many as 30 insurgents. Another American spokesman, Col. Wayne Shanks, said that no suicide bombs had exploded and that no insurgents had entered the base. “At no time were Bagram defenses breached,” he said.

American officials said that the attack had ended by midmorning Tuesday.

Still, details were sketchy. The main road leading to the base was sealed, and helicopters could be seen flying over the area. Local residents reported hearing gunfire around the base.

The Bagram base, located about 50 miles north of Kabul, the capital, is one of the main hubs of the American campaign in Afghanistan. Bagram serves as the headquarters for the military’s efforts in eastern Afghanistan. It is ringed by several layers of defenses.

The assault on Bagram comes on the heels of an attack Tuesday by a suicide bomber in Kabul, who rammed an explosives-laden bus into an American convoy, killing 18 people, including five American soldiers and a Canadian officer.

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