The recent Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan destroyed eight Harrier jets. This is the worst one day loss of aircraft the U.S. has suffered since the Vietnam War.
Camp Bastion is located in southwestern Afghanistan the major base in the area. It is also the main British Military Base in Afghanistan although it also houses U.S. and Afghan troops. The base accomodates 28,000 people and is northwest of Lashkar Gah the capital of Helmand Province.
The Taliban attacked the camp on September 14th killing two U.S. marines. At the same time nine coalition personnel were wounded. The damage caused by the attack is estimated at $200 million dollars. The eight Harrier jets that were destroyed cost between $23 and $30 million dollars each. The attack was the most destructive on any base since the beginning of the Afghan mission.
Approximately 15 insurgents dressed in U.S. army uniforms penetrated the base perimeter on Friday night. The insurgents not only fired at and set fire to the jets but also badly damaged three refueling stations. A military official told the New York Times:
"It was a running gun battle for a while, two and a half hours, nonetheless they were able to get to the aircraft before we could intercept them.”
The insurgents had machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and perhaps even mortars. All but one of the insurgents was killed in the battle and the remaining attacker was taken into custody. The insurgents were not able to get across the runway into areas where troops were staying.
While the Taliban claimed the attack was in response to the anti-Prophet movie an official doubted that since the attack was quite sophisticated and probably there had been preparations and training for weeks in advance. While Prince Harry was at the base during the attack he was over a mile away from the action and was never in any danger. The troops went into lockdown as the soon as they were alerted to the attack. The attack shows that the Taliban are far from beaten and can even attack a well-defended base and cause extensive damage.