The Battle of Kamdesh, one of the most deadly military engagements during the U.S. war in Afghanistan, turned especially bloody – leaving eight Americans dead and 22 wounded – because troops and aircraft normally tasked to support U.S. fighting men and woman were diverted to search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
- Just 53 U.S. soldiers were left to defend an ammunition depot with no air support or reserves on Oct. 3, 2009 after nearly 350 Taliban attacked a combat outpost and 35 Afghan National Army soldiers fled their posts
- Sources tell MailOnline that 8 U.S. soldiers died and 22 were wounded because additional troops and air cover were diverted to hunt for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
- ‘Those guys didn’t have the complete support they needed … because all the assets and everything were diverted to us,’ a member of Bergdahl’s platoon said
- Combat Outpost Keating was the site of one of the bloodiest battles during America’s engagement in Afghanistan, with 150 Taliban paying for the armed assault with their lives
- Two US Army sergeants won the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for bravery, in the Battle of Kamdesh in eastern Afghanistan
UK Daily Mail The Oct. 3, 2009 battle at Combat Outpost Keating, near the town of Kamdesh in Nuristan province, lasted more than 12 hours and earned two Army staff sergeants the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery the Pentagon can bestow on a warrior.
But multiple sources including a well-placed Pentagon official told MailOnline that the bloodshed was far worse than it needed to be, and blamed the months-long shuffling of American military resources all across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region after Bergdahl walked away from his post on June 30 of that year.
‘The COP Keating battle was so deadly because ISAF numbers were so low,’ a Pentagon official said, referring to the International Security Assistance Force, the generic term for the U.S.-led coalition fighters that included small numbers of soldiers from Afghanistan, Latvia and other nations. ‘And that was because so many U.S. troops were off searching for Bergdahl.’ The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly.
An internal Pentagon report released in 2010 found that air support was late to arrive at the battle, and no ‘quick reaction force’ showed up for 13 hours. By that time, Taliban fighters had pushed through fences and overrun the facility, killing or wounding more than half of the U.S. personnel at the site and laying waste to most of the base.
American forces abandoned the outpost days later, but had to bomb its remains from above in order to prevent the Taliban from carrying away the last of the live ammunition that it had once housed.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid bragged to the Associated Press at the time that ‘this is another victory for Taliban. We have control of another district in eastern Afghanistan. Right now Kamdesh is under our control, and the white flag of the Taliban is raised above Kamdesh.’
On that same day, President Barack Obama was announced as the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Pentagon report noted that the outpost itself had ‘no tactical or strategic value,’ and that it was slated to be eventually abandoned – an outcome that the loss of life dramatically accelerated. ‘It’s beyond a doubt that we could have held COP Keating and inflicted even greater enemy casualties if we had had the air support we needed there, but the Bergdahl hunt spread everyone really thin,’ the Defense Department official said.
‘It’s also highly likely that the loss of life on the U.S. side would have been far less.’
Romesha ‘wouldn’t have had to put him and his men into the meat grinder of RPGs and B-10 rifle fire,’ the official said, if so many resources hadn’t been re-tasked to hunt for Bergdahl.