Archive for August 22, 2012
Lucky Shot or Close Call?
Afghan militants are trying to get the biggest propaganda boost they can from a rocket attack early yesterday (August 21) on Bagram Airfield that damaged the transport plane used by the U.S. military’s top commander — Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman off the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The overnight attack, which is not that unusual according to NATO officials, damaged the Air Force C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft on which Dempsey flew into Afghanistan, CNN and other news outlets reported. Dempsey was in his quarters asleep and never in danger from the attack in the wee hours of the morning when two rockets landed on Bagram’s flightline. Two Air Force aircraft maintainers were slightly injured — suffering cuts and bruises from debris. The C-17 was not directly hit by the rockets but flying shrapnel damaged the crew door and the cowling on one of the big plane’s four jet engines.
Dempsey and his travelling party had to switch to another plane to fly out of Afghanistan for the rest of his trip to Iraq.
NATO officials said rockets or other explosive projectiles are fired into the airfield once or twice a month, usually with little effect, the New York Times reported. But according to the Times and other news outlets, the Taliban claimed it had deliberately targeted Dempsey’s plane. A Taliban spokesman claimed the chairman’s plane was targeted “using exact information” about where it would be, the Associated Press reported. The Taliban also claimed to have shot down a U.S. helicopter last week, killing seven Americans and four Afghans. But U.S. officials have said enemy fire was not responsible for that fatal crash.
Dempsey was in Afghanistan to speak with NATO coalition and Afghan leaders about the increasing problem of Afghans in uniform — whether actual policemen and soldiers or Taliban infiltrators — attacking coalition forces. There have been 32 attacks so far this year — 11 more than for all of 2011.