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Aug 15

Written by: Diana West
Monday, August 15, 2011 5:47 AM 

Gen. Petraeus bestowing medals at COP Margah on the Afghan border with Pakistan in October 2010

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Command Outpost (COP) Margah didn't make "the news" back in October 2010 when there was an attack by hundreds of jihadists "armed to the teeth and shouting `Allah akbar' as they stormed the outpost," as Wired rather colorfully reported.

No, not even after Gen. Petraeus called the battle to defend this outpost in Paktika province along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border "one for the history books." Petraeus made that comment when he helicoptered in ten days after the fighting to distribute medals among these valorous soldiers. If the commanding general mentioned what national purpose they had served in successfully defending this tiny outpost on the moon, that didn't get picked up either. But I doubt that he did -- because there isn't any. There were no American deaths at this battle of Margah, which may be what made it so memorable.

Not so at COP Keating in October 2009, when 300 Taliban fighters breached a similarly tiny and isolated outpost near Kamdesh in a furious battle that left five  eight Americans dead. In July 2008, a similar attack on a tiny, isolated and unsupported outpost near Wanat left nine US troops dead. These are some of the unreckoned costs of dysfunctional COIN theory, which the COINdinistas who run the US military relied on to insert these tiny outposts deep in hostile territory like pins on a map. Their mission was to serve as "hearts and minds" welcome wagons. After the men had to circle the wagons to escape with their lives, at least most of them, these outposts were closed. No Big Fish paid any price for what was deemed an intelligence failure; only small fry.

I don't know what mission COP Margah serves but it is still open for battle. And it still isn't making "the news" even as incoming jihadi fire is "increasing greatly" compared with recent months, and jihadis probed the perimeter recently. What purpose does this outpost serve? COP Margah should be on the Worry Meter for America because as a lonely pinprick on the Pakistani border it sounds all too much like a COP Keating or Wanat waiting to happen.

In  April 2011, Long War Journal reported on a visit by reporter David Axe to COP Margah, where a First Lieutenant gave him a tour (see video here) and discussed "how insurgents out of Waziristan train fighters in indirect fire, using the COP as a target."

"The Waziristan Agency, they have a handbook ... almost exactly like our Ranger handbook that goes over advanced infantry tactics and small unit ambush raids, that sort of thing. [In a captured copy of the book] they had drawings of the COP and the OP, measurements, distances, all that sort of thing, and it was pretty high speed stuff for them. You wouldn't think they'd have anything like that, but they did."

COP Margah is not only a training opportunity for jihadists, it is an open-book shooting gallery for them. For what national purpose is the US military risking the lives of its defenders?

Shouldn't someone in Congresss -- or some intrepid GOP presidential candidate -- bother to find out?

 

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