Tuesday 18 September 2012

How official pics help Taliban attack planners

Well done to John Young at Cryptome for pointing to the extraordinary array of tactically useful photographs of Camp Bastion published by the UK Ministry of Defence (369 images) and the US Department of Defense (over 500 images).
It seems quite remarkable that these two organisations should have published photos that allow Taliban strategists to make accurate models of the layout of the camp. The positioning of hangars, medical centres, troop bivvies - pretty much everything - is on view in these high-res photos. The photo of the church is pointless and inflammatory in the hands of a Taliban recruiter.
In late July the Taliban posted an hour-long video of an attack on Camp Salerno, the largest US base in Afghanistan. It was filmed on three separate cameras and was well shot. The content included shots of a commander showing the attacking force a mock-up model of the base and aerial photos which he used to explain how they would attack. 

In that video many of the militants can be seen wearing US army fatigues as they train in the mountains with rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and AK-47's. The Camp Bastion attackers were also wearing US Army uniforms. Presumably everyone there had been told to be on the lookout for a copycat attack?
Still from Taliban video of Camp Bastion attack
It seems entirely likely that the Camp Bastion attack was planned using models built with the help of the official government photos. The ISAF spokesman himself admitted  that it was "a well-coordinated attack". He also claimed that of the 15 who took part in the attack, 14 had been killed and one captured. How then does he explain the video posted online soon after  the attack by the Taliban and showing burning buildings at Camp Bastion? It suggests at least one member of the attack team made it back to base.

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