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Alaska Guardsman describes 2012 Afghanistan firefight and lessons learned

Maj. Matthew Komatsu of Anchorage, a full-time Alaska Air Guardsman based at JBER,  writes for The New York Times his account of his rescue squadron's response to the Sept. 14, 2012, Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province during his third deployment to Afghanistan. The actions of one of the two Marines killed that night, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, would have a lasting effect on Komatsu.

This was not the kind of combat scenario we had run countless times, getting ready for deployment. Those scenarios were easy by comparison. Tonight we had marched into a full-on gunfight, risking fratricide along the way. We had then joined up with unfamiliar British soldiers and commenced an infantry action into what had become enemy-held territory. The men had met the challenge and everyone was going home in one piece. It was no small feat.

In the days, weeks and months since, I haven’t gone a day without thinking about that night. I continue to feel an inexplicable connection to Colonel Raible. The attack on Camp Bastion was the worst airfield incursion since the Tet Offensive. Yet Colonel Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, the other Marine killed that night, became just two of the latest names on an ever-growing list of casualties of a nearly forgotten war. Beyond local memorials on the Web, I couldn’t find much about them.

Then, several months ago, I found Colonel Raible’s “Command Guidance,” which he had put out before he died, online.

Read more at The New York Times: Responding to an Insurgent Attack on an Afghan Base  



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