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Report says 8 died defending worthless base

WASHINGTON — A U.S. military investigation into a battle last October in eastern Afghanistan that cost eight American soldiers their lives has concluded the small outpost was worthless, the troops there didn't understand their mission, and intelligence and air support were tied up elsewhere in the province.

The attack on Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province in October was one of the worst insurgent attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

The attack investigation, led by Maj. Gen. Guy C. Swan III, drew on interviews from about 140 people who were at the outpost or who had information about the attack. The inquiry found the 60 or so soldiers stationed there fought courageously, killing about 150 insurgents as they defended their base.

But the report also said that those soldiers were stationed in a place of "no tactical or strategic value" and that critical intelligence and surveillance capabilities that could have helped them had been diverted to other missions.

The report said commanders should have done more to improve the base's defenses and to analyze intelligence reports that the enemy was planning a major assault. It recommended the squadron commander overseeing the outpost receive a letter of reprimand. Military officials said the brigade commander was given a letter of admonishment, a less severe punishment.

The letters are part of a new push by top military brass to hold commanders accountable for major incidents in which troops are killed or wounded.

Information from McClatchy Newspapers was used in this report.

Antibomb tools offered to allies

The United States on Friday promised allies armored vehicles, jammers and other technology to protect against roadside bombs. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States would provide Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected trucks, known as MRAPs, to allies conducting operations in violent areas of Afghanistan. Gates said some of the surplus original models that were used in Iraq would be sold or loaned to allies as the troop drawdown continues in Iraq.

CIA agents praised:

President Barack Obama on Friday memorialized seven CIA agents slain Dec. 30 during a suicide bombing of the CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, as patriots protecting America from terrorism. Relatives and more than 1,000 CIA officers attended the closed memorial ceremony at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Times wires

Report says 8 died defending worthless base 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 11:06pm]
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