Thursday, April 24, 2014

Army's Report On 2013 Zabul Attack Blames Poor Planning

Post-blast photo outside PRT Zabul compound

The Chicago Tribune has obtained the U.S. Army's internal report on the attack one year ago in Qalat, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, in which FSO Anne Smedinghoff and three U.S. soldiers were killed. The Army's investigation of the incident was scathing, and reportedly two officers were disciplined as a result.

Briefly stated, the four plus several other U.S. diplomats and soldiers were walking in the street just outside the perimeter wall of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul compound when they were ambushed in a attack that involved two bombs, one small and remotely-controlled, and the other larger and vehicle-borne.

The Chicago Tribune's story is here, and Diplopundit has much more on the attack and its aftermath.

The actual report has not been made public, so far as I know, so I am going by the Tribune's summary. It describes a failure of planning and even rudimentary security precautions on the part of both the U.S. military at PRT Zabul and the Embassy in Kabul. There is a lot of blame to go around, but this is the worst of it:
They were caught in the initial blast at about 11 a.m., when a remote-controlled bomb hidden under a pallet that was leaned up against the base’s southern wall detonated.

That confirms a detail that was anonymously reported to the Associated Press a few days after the attack. It is evidence of gross complacency.

If it was possible for someone to place an explosive device against the base of the PRT compound's wall without it being detected, then there was much more wrong at PRT Zabul than just a failure to plan for a visiting delegation.


James said...

Nothing on what happened to the Afghan guard commander, shift commander, entrance guard?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget James, a lot of these State and military people rely on written communications (english probably) which our Afghan partners
view as a temporary inconvenience.