Security forces team awarded Combat Action Medal for fighting off base attack

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond
  • NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan public affairs
Thirty-nine security forces Airmen received the Air Force Combat Action Medal Sept. 2, for their actions in defending U.S., NATO, and Afghan military bases from an insurgent attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

At approximately 4:15 a.m., July 17, the Afghan air force's Kabul Air Wing, Forward Operating Base Oqab and a NATO base, all located within the grounds of Kabul International Airport, came under a complex attack by Taliban-linked insurgents fighting from a multistoried building approximately 350 meters from the perimeter.
In the initial moments of the attack alone, the attackers launched more than a dozen rocket-propelled grenades and fired automatic rifles at the three bases.

Some of the security forces members were on duty standing guard at the time the attacks began. Others were asleep in bed and awakened by explosions and gunfire. While those on duty began identifying the enemies and their positions and fighting back, the off-duty members donned protective gear over the clothes they'd been sleeping in and ran to help.

With bullets flying and RPGs exploding and hitting nearby, the Airmen fought from guard towers and launched two quick reaction forces, along with an Afghan QRF, to take the fight closer to the enemy position. Fighting with M4 carbines, M203 grenade launchers, and M240B medium machine guns, the Air Force defenders unleashed a withering barrage of more than 3,000 total rounds to keep the enemy fighters suppressed and decrease the volume and accuracy of their fire.

The siege on the base lasted for more than five hours and ended when the Afghan-led QRF, enabled by the suppressive fire from Air Force and Afghan forces on the base, arrived at the attackers' position and cleared the building, eliminating the threat. The coalition and Afghan forces sustained no significant injuries during the firefight, and only moderate damage to facilities and grounds on the bases occurred.

Maj. Gen. John K. McMullen, the commander of 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force- Afghanistan; commander of NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, and the deputy commander-Air, U.S. Forces- Afghanistan, presented the medals to each Airman during a brief ceremony at FOB Oqab.