Operation Resolute Support has released a video from September 9, 2018, when Afghan National Security Forces reported finding a massive weapons cache in Helmand Province, where security forces and Taliban fighters have been clashing as the government gains ground in the area.
The U.S. forces supporting the Afghans agreed to help “reduce” the stockpile, but they didn’t risk droves of explosive ordnance disposal specialists by sending them in to drag out all the explosives and destroy them one by one.
Nope, instead, they turned to rocket artillerymen, and had a high-mobility, artillery rocket system shoot at the cache. Then, they released the video with just the text:
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Sept. 9, 2018) – Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) conducted operations in Nad ‘Ali District and discovered a compound containing a large weapons and explosives cache. In support of ANDSF maneuver, Task Force Southwest conducted a strike on the compound with HIMARS to safely and completely eliminate the hazardous material from the battlespace, degrading the Taliban’s ability to conduct combat operations in central Helmand.
Soliders from Bravo Battery, 1-121st Field Artillery Regiment with the Wisconsin National Guard, fire M142 HIMARS Ripper rounds while training at Fort McCoy, WI.
(Fort McCoy Visual Information Branch Jamal Wilson)
The most common ordnance for HIMARS is either a pack of six unguided rockets or one guided missile. While the Department of Defense didn’t specify which munition was used, the guided missile makes more sense for the mission. It’s capable of high precision as long as it’s fed accurate GPS coordinates.
And, judging by the massive explosion in the video, the round found its mark. The shockwave radiates out for hundreds of meters, so the weapon cache must’ve been massive.
The Afghan National Security Forces have pressed hard against the Taliban in recent months, and some of their victories have been dramatic. In one case, government forces defended the Farah district center with their bare hands and blades after a siege went on so long that they ran out of ammo and other supplies.
But many Afghan citizens remain angry and worried about the performance of their security forces, especially the logisticians, intelligence officers, and other support forces crucial for modern combat. In Farah, they yelled at Afghan officials about the long and obvious Taliban buildup before the battle and asked why the government forces weren’t better supplied, reinforced, and prepared for the fight.
All of this comes amid new peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the U.S. The war turns 17-years-old today if you count it from the 9/11 attacks that precipitated the U.S. invasion. The youngest Afghan voters can’t remember a time without war between the U.S. and the Afghan national government and the Taliban and its allies.