Tuesday's ambush in Gangigal in Kunar that killed four U.S. Marine military advisers, eight Afghan soldiers and policemen, and an Afghan interpreter will surely raise serious question about the current rules of engagement which U.S. forces operate under in Afghanistan. Jonathan S. Landay, a reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, witnessed the ambush and said the Marines and soldiers did not receive air and artillery support to suppress the Taliban firing from the mountains.
According to Landay, the engagement began at 5:30 AM local time. The advisers called for air and artillery support 20 minutes later, at 5:50 AM. No air support was available and artillery support didn't arrive until another 50 minutes later, at about 6:40 AM. Even then, only white phosphorus rounds were fired. Attack helicopters showed up another half hour later, at about 7:10.
Read the entire account of the battle. If Landay's account is accurate, U.S. police and military trainers, as well as regular military units, are going to have to swallow a bitter pill each time they step outside the gates to patrol and conduct other missions. Advisers particularly are exposed when leaving their bases. They rely on the local forces for primary security, then Coalition quick reaction forces and air and artillery support to back them up. In the rural fight in Afghanistan's mountains, sometimes all these advisers have to back them up is air and artillery. If the air and artillery support is being withheld, their confidence in being able to successfully return from a mission will drop dramatically.