Today’s Bloggers’ Roundtable was with Army Col. Thomas McGrath, commander of the Afghanistan Regional Security Integration Command-South. Our questions focused on the jailbreak in Kandahar on June 16 and the situation in the Arghandab district following that incident.
No NATO personnel were on site in Kandahar at the time of the jailbreak. Col. McGrath reports a truck bomb exploded at the main entrance, and a number of Taliban then attacked with RPG’s and small arms. The prison is not like those in the West, more of a compound and less of a fortress.
McGrath cannot state the number of attackers but suggests that it would not be impossible for it to have involved less than 50. He reports that the situation inside the prison has not yet been clarified and that it is possible that doors were unlocked prior to the attack.
The prison did not keep very good records on its inmates. Col. McGrath estimates that about 900 prisoners may have escaped, nearly all on foot. Of that number, perhaps 2-300 were Taliban.
The Afghan government responded quickly and an Afghan Army commando unit was in Kandahar within hours. Within the next three days, thousands of Afghan troops would be moved to the region.
Media reports at the time indicated that the Taliban had moved into the Arghandab district in force, occupying 18 villages, setting mines and blowing up bridges. Those reports were untrue.
A Canadian Army unit is stationed in the Arghandab region and the Taliban did not and do not have freedom of movement in the district. By June 18, two days after the breakout, Afghan Army and National Police units had moved into Arghandab itself and had pushed out into the district. In heavy fighting, 80 Taliban were killed and 25 captured. Ground troops were supported, for the first time, by Afghan helicopters.
In related fighting south of Kandahar, an additional 25 Taliban were killed.
Col. McGrath characterized the Afghan response as “decisive” and “overwhelming”. He stated that the national government and the security forces could not have conducted this operation last year, perhaps not even 6-7 months ago.
It has been a difficult week for ISAF forces in this region. 12 soldiers and Marines have been killed in the last nine days. McGrath reports that these losses are mourned by their comrades but that morale is high.
McGrath is very pleased with the current state of the Afghan security forces. There remain logistical challenges. His embeds, mentors, are only at 50% strength so he could do more if he had more personnel.
Table of contents for Bloggers' Roundtable
- We Don’t Commute to Work Anymore
- Terror Investors Might Want to Look Elsewhere
- I Hear It’s Safe
- In Our Area the Taliban Are Paying More a Month
- Iraqi Police Progress
- Sept. 11 Conspirators Going to Trial
- Continued Courage and Committment
- The Year of Opportunity – 2008
- Competent, Capable, Effective Leadership
- Afghan Army Acts: Decisive, Overwhelming
- Iraqi Military Medical Services
- Dallas Reporting: Aid Mission to Georgia
- Military Integration Into NIMS
- Status Report From the Afghan South
- Status Report From the Afghan East
- Fourth Fleet Is About Partnerships
- Iraqi Police Primer
- Sons of Iraq Status Update
- Army Apologizes
- We Are Here!
- Yar! There Be Pirates!
- Cobra Gold 2009
- Our Best: Sergeant First Class Helen Gillespie
- Africa Partnership Station Comes to E Africa
- Building the Rule of Law in Afghanistan
- Sons of Iraq and the Iraqi Budget
- Air Force Combat Camera – Focus on the Fight
- Afghan Update for July 22, 2009
- The Army Goal: 1.5 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy
- Withdrawing from Iraq – some perspective
- Iraqi security update April 22 2010
- 2012 Federal Budget for Defense
- Pacific Command and the Pacific
- Air Force high flyers mark 100th anniversary