Before the United States could gear up for its latest military offensive against the Taliban, insurgents put together their own offensive and attacked the main base for United States’ military operations in Afghanistan. It was a predawn assault on Bagram air base. About thirty insurgents participated in the attack. They actually managed to get close enough to launch rocket propelled grenades into the base. Standing right outside the base fence the insurgents used firearms to shoot into the base. They managed to kill a contractor and nine coalition soldiers. The firefight took something like nine hours before it was over. Ten of the insurgents were killed.
Honestly, what did people expect? From what I understand, the insurgents were wearing suicide vests. They had no intention of coming out of the attack alive. And that makes perfect sense. Thirty guys with the cajones to attack a United States air base probably have the cajones to die for what they believe in.
But then again, who would’ve thought insurgents could’ve just walked up and get so close to a military base in a war zone? I would’ve thought that this base would’ve had every monitoring device known to man turned up to that super sensitive setting that could find a housefly buzzing through the air at least six or seven miles away. I thought they’d have their own weather satellite in a geostationary orbit pointing down at the area around the base to monitor the source for the slightest wind change. I thought they’d at least have a pack of dogs ready to sniff out any foreign body odor that might suddenly show up in the area. You don’t even need an airport grade dog for that. Hell, my mom’s thirteen year old Chow-Lab mix could even do that job. It’s not like they use deodorant. But there was nothing.
I thought that placed would be tied down like Fort Knox. Instead of being the ultimate in security, the place resembles one of those forts you see on the playground that’s open to any kid that approaches. I thought that the vicinity around the base would be filled with motion detectors, heat sensors, and magnetometers that could detect changes in the magnetic field caused by a zipper or a metal button.
But instead, the base that serves as the epicenter for NATO’s mission in the country is protected by Gomer Pyle and Gilligan. Surveillance equipment around an air force base? We don’t need no stinkin’ surveillance equipment around an air force base. Who would be so stupid to attack the United States? But then again, aren’t these the same people who are culpable in the 2001 attack against the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and presumably the White House.
The attack on the sprawling base about fifty miles north of Kabul is nothing more than a message that what we refer to as the insurgency is still a potent force that’s able to carry out coordinated attacks against an opponent everyone believes to be formidable. The Taliban recently announced their own plan for a spring offensive in response to NATO’s offensive. Some suggest that this latest attack is intended as a demonstration of the Taliban’s determination to continue this conflict against NATO to the last suicidal man if necessary.
It’s also a message that America isn’t all that. We might think we have the technology to fight wars on a scale that any other country can only dream of. But technology doesn’t win wars. It’s a great tool but technology alone doesn’t win wars. It is the will and the determination of the people who fight that wins wars. You can try and use technology to break your opponent’s spirit. But what happens when technology is employed and the opponents resolve stays strong? You might have a situation where people with guns and grenades stand right outside the air base with all the gunships, F-15 Strike Eagles, state of the art M-1 tanks, and the like, and are willing to go meet their maker to fight for what they believe in.
We can’t bomb every Taliban out of existence. We can’t even keep our air base safe. Eventually, we will have to sit down and negotiate with an opponent who might not be as formidable as us but appears to be just as determined. We can’t pretend we have the will to take this fight to their doorstep and beyond when we can’t even keep our troops safe within our own base. And not just any base, we’re talking about Bagram air base, our Afghanistan military nerve center. The nerve of some people trying to give us a bloody nose as we try to kill them off.