A US Strike In Afghanistan Just Killed 50 Taliban Leaders


On the 24th of May, dozens of Taliban leaders were congregating in a building located in the Musa Qala district of Afghanistan. The U.S. military authorized a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System strike on the meeting place, which killed at least 50 Taliban insurgents, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.

“The structure was a known meeting location for prominent Taliban leaders,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a press release.

"Strikes like this one not only degrade Taliban operations, but also give our partners the ability to maintain continuous pressure against a weakened enemy,” U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson said in the release.

The M142 HIMARS system has been referred to as the ‘Commander’s Sniper Rifle.’ Depending on the missile loadout, it has a range between 20 and 186 miles. The HIMARS system has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of both conflicts, and has also has seen used against ISIS targets in Syria.

Dept. Of Defense

AL MINHAD AIRBASE, United Arab Emirates — The crew of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) vehicle waits for orders to conduct a fire mission during the Diamond Tempest training exercise April 18, 2018. The Soldiers and equipment are with 75th Field Artillery Brigade, III Corps. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles)

The Taliban’s deputy shadow governor for Helmand province is believed to be the most senior of the leaders killed in the HIMARS strike, Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said on Wednesday.

While U.S. forces are still trying to identify all of the Taliban leaders killed, it appears as though they had recently taken part in an attack on Farah city in western Afghanistan, Nicholson told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. Afghan security forces had pursued the Taliban commanders for a week after driving them out of the city.

“After some great intelligence work by Marines led by Brig. Gen. Ben Watson, they tracked 50 of them to a meeting at Musa Qala and struck them with HIMARS rockets, killing dozens of enemy leaders,” Nicholson said. “By killing leaders, we will achieve a disruptive effect in Helmand. I would not call it ‘strategic significance,’ but it definitely has a significant local significance, in terms of the fight in southern Afghanistan.”

The province of Musa Qala is just north of the infamous town of Sangin in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. This area is a perpetual hotbed of Taliban activity. However, the Taliban have been active all across Afghanistan in recent months, with attacks in Farah, Kabul, and Jalalabad.

The Taliban even claimed control over the capital of Farah province for a brief period last month, before being run out of town by a combination of U.S. Special Operations troops and Afghan National Army soldiers.

The HIMARS strike is the latest in a series of attacks against Taliban leadership that have been ongoing for the last ten days. According to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan, over 70 senior Taliban leaders have been killed during that time-span (including those targeted in the HIMARS attack), and the additional targets hit included a Taliban Red Unit commander and the shadow district governor of Nahr-e-Saraj.

As the fighting season returns, this decapitation of leadership will hopefully hinder Taliban operations against the roughly 15,000 U.S. troops in the country and the Afghan forces they’re advising. But given the history of U.S. there, you have to wonder how many times you can cut the head off the same snake.


A enlisted thinktank brought to you by Task & Purpose

Watch Next

President Donald Trump speaks during an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Pratt Industries, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.

Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.

Read More Show Less
"It's kind of like the equivalent of dropping a soda can into canyon and putting on a blindfold and going and finding it, because you can't just look down and see it," diver Jeff Goodreau said of finding the wreck.

The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.

The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.

Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.

Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.

Read More Show Less
(CIA photo)

Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.

Read More Show Less

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.

Read More Show Less