The full extent of the Taliban’s audacious raid on Camp Bastion/Camp Leatherneck, a massive complex in southern Helmand province that serves as the main base for U.S. Marines and British forces only became clear on Sunday. It was a coordinated assault that destroyed six Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump-jets and “significantly” damaged two others, as well as some hangars.
The Taliban also destroyed three refueling stations.
Harrier jets cost an inflation-adjusted $30 million to $40 million apiece when they were acquired in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests, they organized into three teams and appeared “well-equipped, trained and rehearsed.”
According to the Coalition, the militants had penetrated one point of the perimeter fence. and the damage caused represents a major loss of combat
power – around half a Harrier squadron
To have pulled this off, reports suggest that the attack would have required advance scouting and perhaps inside assistance.
When the Taliban attempted a similar assault on Kandahar Air Field in 2010, they failed.
This attack is a powerful demonstration that they have learned from previous mistakes and are now able to penetrate a base’s defences.