A Personal Account of the Latest Khost Suicide Attack, With Optimism

by Joshua Foust on 7/28/2009 · 2 comments

Someone at FOB Salerno, who prefers to remain unnamed, contacted me about the latest Khost suicide attack. This someone was actually in downtown Khost when it happened. “Within 20 minutes” of the start of the gunfight, he says, “We were on the scene.” Apparently the Afghan security forces had done all the work: “all that was left to do was look at bodies and talk to shopkeepers.”

Now, this someone blames the ANSF success on something I haven’t heard of before: QRF (that is, Quick Reaction Forces) for both the ANA and ANP. Basically, they’re the cavalry, the guys you call when you’re in trouble and need help immediately. It’s normally a capability the U.S. provides for everyone else in the area. In this case, it seems, the Afghan-led QRF were on the scene very quickly, and made quick work of the insurgents attacking the police headquarters.

To be honest, I’m shocked at how well that worked out, especially on the ANP side. But it is still very good news. This someone also said that the ANA and ANP had been working on their public outreach, so that they can interact on their own with local, national, and global media. According to this someone, it worked well after this attack: shopkeepers seemed proud that the security forces fought off the attack, and within an hour the governor—in his custom ACUs and sidearm, like the sheriff of Durango—was strolling through the area, making a show of confidence.

It’s a nice spot of optimism amidst the barrage of bad news coming from the country. Khost has had some of the most innovative security structures in the war, whether the (appropriate) use of Arbakai to secure polling stations in 2004-5, building the Khost Protection Force, or applying the Afghan Security Guards to man checkpoints. While that hasn’t necessarily reduced violence yet, it has shown that the Afghans themselves are actually capable of doing their jobs if we let them. And that’s a spot of good news I think anyone would welcome.

Photo: FOB Salerno, taken by me.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

MILNEWS.ca July 28, 2009 at 11:47 am

Thanks, Joshua, for sharing that tidbit to balance the doom and gloom in the MSM.

Thanks, also, to whoever provided the info – stay safe!

Sekundar July 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm

It was great; ANSF are increasingly taking on a role in SE Afghanistan that heretofore had been Coalition Forces’, and they’re doing it well. Now if only Qalandarzai had thought a moment before popping out in an American uniform…

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