Monday, August 10

Camp Integrity in Kabul is run by U.S. contractor Academi, previously known as Blackwater UPDATED 2X

From Kate Clark's Aug 10 discussion at Afghan Analysts Network, it could be Camp Integrity isn't only run by a contractor -- the contractor subcontracted the guarding of the facility to an Afghan security firm! If true that would certainly explain the preponderance of Afghan guards (8) killed in the attack on the base:
Camp Integrity was set up in 2013 to provide a home for US and other Special Operations Forces. The American firm Academi – a re-named Blackwater, famous for killing 17 Iraqi civilians and injuring 20 in Baghdad in 2007 (five employees were later convicted in a US court) – had the contract to run the base and appears to have subcontracted the outer ring of security to an Afghan private security firm.
A spokesman for the NATO mission Resolute Support insisted the base was part of NATO’s ‘train, arm, assist’ mission and the special operations forces there were training their Afghan counterparts. She denied they were involved in the US’ separate counter-terrorism, combat mission Freedom’s Sentinel. However, a defence department press release later made clear the dead serviceman was on the United States’ combat mission.
I suppose the excuse would be, 'Oh we don't pay Academi to actually guard the base.  We pay them to train Afghans to guard. '  

This CNN report filed by Tal Kopan and Barbara Starr and last updated at 6:07 PM EDT, U.S. Military: Afghanistan base attack used IED to breach fence, is the most detailed description yet about the attack on Camp Integrity.  Note that it contradicts a statement to Reuters from special forces member at the camp that the firefight went on a "couple hours." (See Reuters report below.)

Thanks for letting us know, Reuters, because all the other news organizations didn't.  The tidbit was at the bottom of a Reuters report, Attacks on army, police and U.S. special forces kill 50 in Kabul filed Monday, August 10 at 12:08 AM IST by Mirwais Harooni and Jessica Donati in Kabul.

The report was to summarize the wave of terrorist attacks that occurred in Kabul on Friday, one of which was directed at Camp Integrity, which was described in other reports as a NATO base or a U.S. Special Forces Operations base or (in the Reuters report) as a "special forces base." 

It's special, all right, if the American Green Beret who was killed during the firefight at Camp Integrity was serving under the direction of a contractor.  A question would be the extent to which NATO's Operation Resolute Support is resolutely supported by contractors. In February Tom Shorrock (author, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing) took a stab at getting an answer for The Nation in his report, The Afghanistan War Is Still Raging -- But This Time It’s Being Waged by Contractors

If you're a little confused about the answer, you might take comfort in learning from the report that the U.S. Congress is also confused.  And all of it begs the question of just what exactly Resolute Support is doing in Afghanistan and why U.S. troops in a war zone should be taking orders from a contractor if that's indeed what is happening. If not -- well then who's actually in charge at Camp Integrity?

This August 9 report from The Daily Mail about the Green Beret who was killed mentions that Camp Integrity was the Green Beret headquarters:  

Green Beret is killed in Afghanistan one month after he was honored at Fourth of July hometown parade 

Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna, 35, died of "'wounds when he was attacked by enemy small arms fire," the Defense Department said
  • Two other American soldiers were wounded in the attack at the Green Beret's Camp Integrity headquarters in Kabul 
  • McKenna, 35, was a 17-year Army veteran and a Bronze Star recipient
  • He was honored with flag that flew over the US Capitol after returning home to Bristol, Rhode Island to attend city's historic Independence Day parade 
  • The state flag will stay at half-staff until he is laid to rest 
The Reuters report provides the most detail about the attack on the base that's been published so far:
The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said Friday was the most violent day since it began recording civilian casualties in 2009, with 355 civilians killed or injured.
On Saturday, NATO-led coalition forces confirmed that one international force member and eight Afghan contractors had been killed in the attack on Camp Integrity, a base used by U.S. special forces near the airport.
The blast outside the base was powerful enough to flatten offices inside, wounding occupants who were airlifted by helicopter to military hospitals.
"There was a big explosion at the gate ... (The gunfire) sounded like it came from two different sides," said a special forces member who was wounded when his office collapsed.
The initial blast caused by a suicide car bomb at the gate was followed by other explosions and a firefight that lasted a couple of hours, he said.
 "The helicopters went on for hours ... medevac-ing people out," a U.S. contractor at a camp nearby said.
A U.S. spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan said the Taliban had increasingly turned to high profile attacks.
"The recent attacks in Kabul are consistent with this trend," said the spokesman, Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner.
Camp Integrity is run by U.S. security contractor Academi, which was known as Blackwater before being sold to investors.
It said eight Afghans contracted to a local partner security firm were killed. It declined to comment further.
In Washington, the White House said National Security Advisor Susan Rice had spoken with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani by telephone to express U.S. condolences.
For more on 1st Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., see this Associated Press report published today in the Army Times. "He had been awarded the Bronze Star with V device for heroism in combat operations, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal."

Aug 7

Afghanistan: Bombs Friday afternoon target Kabul police cadets and airport


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