Ten elite Army soldiers who subdued a large insurgent stronghold in the mountains of Afghanistan after a nearly seven-hour battle were honored Friday with Silver Stars. Ray Suarez reports on the extraordinary battle.
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Operation Commando Wrath was planned for the first week in April. Elite Army special operators and Afghan army commandos had mapped out an assault on an insurgent stronghold in the northeastern reaches of Afghanistan.
Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson.
ANN SCOTT TYSON, Washington Post:
They describe this holdout as a place — no roads led to it. They were using old Russian maps to explore these places. And they believed that no U.S. or Russian forces had even gone to this place.
They, when I interviewed them, told me that they routinely do find that the terrain is different, but they had seen nothing this austere. And there was nothing about the imagery that they were getting that gave them a sense of just how difficult this was going to be.
I mean, they were prepared for the unexpected, but this was the most austere they had seen.
It sounds like, once they were inserted, they found that they were both seriously outmanned and exposed at the same time?
ANN SCOTT TYSON:
Definitely. They believe that, from the moment they turned their helicopters into that valley, I mean, there was no way they could maintain the element of surprise and that the insurgent leaders there would have heard them, known they were coming for them, known how they would approach, and therefore were able to have, you know, a few minutes of time to prepare.
The rotor blades of the infiltrating helicopters were an insurgent magnet. And with the rough terrain, the commandos had to leap from the choppers into a fast-rushing stream or onto rocks and make their way up the mountains. The Green Berets were quickly surrounded from all angles, under intense enemy fire, and basically in the open.