The investigation into the Oct. 3, 2009 insurgent attack onCombat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan,that left eight U.S.soldiers killed and 22 wounded, is complete. ISAF public affairs emailed us acopy of the executive summary along with heavily redacted portions of the restof the report. We're trying to get our hands on the full report and will letyou know when we do.
Keating was manned by Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron,61st Cavalry, soldiers who thought they were embarking on acounterinsurgency mission but soon found themselves fighting for their verysurvival in a remote outpost located deep in a bowl, surrounded by high ground.The report says that because of "limited manpower and tactical reach" off theoutpost, the soldiers could do little more than hunker down and try to defendthe perimeter. "By mid-2009 there was no tactical or strategic value to holdingthe ground occupied by COP Keating."
"The delayed closing of COP Keating is important as itcontributed to a mindset of imminent closure that served to impede improvementsin force protection on the COP. There were inadequate measures taken by thechain of command, resulting in an attractive target for enemy fighters."
The outpost was scheduled to be shut down, but due to ashortage of transportation, Bravo Troop was forced to stay put long after theyshould have been pulled out. The report says aerial drones that could have providedwarning of insurgents massing for the October attack were unavailable, havingbeen tasked elsewhere. Insurgents repeatedly probed the outpost - during thesoldiers five month stay they were attacked 47 times - and pinpointed keyweapons systems, generators and the barracks.
Because of those numerous, but small scale attacks,commanders on the ground were lulled into thinking only small probing attackswould continue and discounted reports of massing enemy forces.
When some 300 insurgents attacked on the morning of Oct. 3, well placed and sited mortars, snipers, RPGs, and machine gun fire quickly knocked out the outpost's mortars, overran the Afghan soldiersdefending the eastern side of the compound, knocked out the generator andpenetrated into the compound at three locations. The surviving soldiers werepushed into a tight perimeter inside the compound.
Eventually, Air Force jets and Apache attack helicoptersarrived to provide close air support and the soldiers were able to regainseveral key buildings. COP Keating was evacuated and the remains of the outpostdestroyed on Oct. 6 to prevent enemy use.
Here is an interview with 1st Lt. Bundermann who fought at COP Keating:
The second part of the interview can be found here.