Part II- Chaos
WARNING- GRAPHIC IMAGES
On June 19, 2012, FOB (Forward Operating Base) Provincial Reserve in Kandahar, Afghanistan was attacked by insurgents. In the chaos of the moment, American Contractor, Thomas Boyle, was killed as we reported previously. Click this link to read that first article in this series.
Caught on film
This synopsis of the attack is taken directly from soldier statements and narratives obtained from the Freedom of Information Act and independent interviews.
The National Geographic Series called Inside Combat Rescue was filming the actions of the PJ’s (Air Force Pararescuers) responding to the call for assistance and evacuation of the wounded at Provincial Reserve. The second half of the third episode called ‘Into the Fire’ records their efforts and can be viewed at the end of this article.
Forward Operating Base Provincial Reserve – outside Kandahar, Afghanistan
PR was a joint base which housed Afghani National Police and the recently deployed 303rd Reserve Unit of the United States Army from Jackson, Michigan.
June 19, 2012 approximately 5:50 am
14 Minutes of chaos
ANP (Afghani National Policeman) Haji Bismullah drove 4 ‘new recruits’ wearing new uniforms onto the base as previously sanctioned by Capt. Qodous Kahn. These four ‘new recruits’ exited the truck and the driver sped away.
These ‘new recruits’ were indeed insurgents who began a well-planned attack at Provincial Reserve. Armed with AK’s and Russian grenades, the four headed towards the room of Capt. Kahn and immediately began throwing grenades into his room… killing him.
The four insurgents then proceeded east towards the room of Col. Qayoom but were thwarted by the Colonel’s bodyguard and detection by US forces. Jawed, the bodyguard of Col Qayoom killed insurgent 4, shooting him in the back as he was retreating down the alleyway bounded by the NCO and 3rd Squad tent. Insurgent 4 lay dead in the area that is created by the NCO tent, 3rd Squad tent, MWR tent, and 2nd Squad tent.
The remaining three insurgents then continued the assault by throwing grenades and moving in a southbound direction towards the generators.
Diagram legend before the attack:
Diagram legend after the attack:
The insurgents dismantled the generators, thereby cutting off outbound communications – but the cameras have a 15 minute battery back-up. Insurgents 1, 2, and 3 continue in a southern direction, throwing grenades onto the American side. Their path is documented on the diagram.The entire attack lasted just under 14 minutes.
Brrrrrrrttt Brrrrrrtttt Brrrrrrttt
US soldiers awakened to grenade blasts and their tents collapsing. The sound of automatic rifles could be heard.
The photos are taken from US security cameras and depict tracer rounds which are every 5th bullet in an M249 — commonly called a SAW, used exclusively by US soldiers at that base.
The soldiers’ responses
Soldier A of A and B are firing an M249.
Review first diagram which identifies and locates the following individuals; Tower 5 guard – T5, Roving guard – RG, Tom Boyle – TB, Ltc McKinley – Ltc, and two US soldiers marked A and B, and another group of three soldiers marked C,D, and E and their positions at the beginning of the attack.
Let’s focus on the actions of soldiers A and B located in the MWR tent at the beginning of the attack. It is documented that the doorway faced the southern end of the tent and that shots were fired from this area. A and B then exited the tent moving in a northern direction stopping in the area where insurgent 4 was lying dead.
Review of the Nat’l Geographic Series episode 3 – at the 40:04 mark the soldier identified as Austin Whitbeck who was armed with a M249 is heard stating these words about his battle buddy, “he fell on top of me…,” yet others state that Whitbeck fell backwards with his SAW on full automatic, thereby spraying bullets into the tents of the US soldiers.
Also killed that day was the interpreter Farhad – who was shot in the back while in the tent marked interpreter in the diagram. Many of the injured American soldiers with gsw’s were located in the NCO tent.
NO AK fire?
Those interviewed stated they initially heard no AK fire and would have recognized it, as it has a distinctive sound. Review of the Combat Rescue episode confirms that only grenade blasts were heard during the initial part of the attack.
Soldiers C, D, and E exited the 2nd squad tent during the attack and made two right turns. Their mission was to make their way to the gym area to their positions as previously drilled. Along the route, all three noticed Tom Boyle on the ground with wounds to his chest.
One of the three was wounded by small arms fire while attempting to give aid to Thomas Boyle. Yet the insurgents had not rounded the corner into the alleyway when he was wounded.
The three American soldiers made their way to the gym area and one of the three called up to the soldier in Tower 5 and told him to turn around as the insurgents were about to or have turned the corner heading east in the alleyway between the water tower and the male showers. The three remaining insurgents were neutralized in this alleyway, confirming the end of the attack.
No black smoke?
Yet when soldiers C, D and E first arrived at the gym area – they called to T5 and told him to turn around in order to have ‘eyes’ on the insurgents. In his formal statement, T5 is quoted –
“I initially thought the explosions were something coming from outside the FOB.”
He stated he then heard more shots fired but could not tell exactly where the sound was coming from. From a generous standpoint, this was already 10 minutes into the attack yet T5 did not know from what direction the explosions were coming from.
T5 stated he looked all around but could see nothing on the outside and all he could see on the inside were AUP (Afghani Uniformed Police) policeman. T5 did not see the black smoke as all the others reported and that is confirmed in the Combat Rescue episode.
In his statement, T5 confirms he heard C, D or E talking to him from below in the gym area stating there were three insurgents coming around the corner. Remember Tom Boyle was already observed to be dead at this time. T5 had still been facing outward according to his own testimony.
The Exhumation results
As previously indicated, the widow of Tom Boyle had his body exhumed and re-autopsied. Some of the new findings included not only more entrance wounds than exit wounds, but also trajectory of the gun shot wounds was confirmed. The trajectory of the chest wounds was downward.
Turning focus on the roving guard (RG) during the attack also sheds new light on how Mr. Boyle died. The roving guard – again in his own words and statement- mentions movement from the area at Tower 3 towards the water tower.
The exhumation indicated Mr. Boyle was shot not only with a series of chest wounds but also a series of bullets had entered his left side and ricocheted backwards. Lateral and back. Think about how that could happen.
The second autopsy confirmed between 11-13 gunshot wounds, not blast injuries as Mrs. Boyle was initially told. The chest wounds were confirmed to have a downward trajectory. The side wounds were lateral and back… Lateral and back… Lateral and back…