Airman From Fort Oglethorpe Defends Operating Base In Kabul
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A U.S. Air Force Airman who calls Fort Oglethorpe home successfully defended his forward operating base here during a more than four hour insurgent attack, July 17, 2014.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Webb, brother of Cyndi Horner of Ringold, is currently deployed and serving as a Security Forces member with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing at Forward Operating Base OQAB, at Kabul International Airport. The wing's mission is to set the conditions for a professional, independent, and sustainable Afghan Air Force to meet the present and future security requirements of Afghanistan. Webb is assigned to provide base and personnel security in support of that mission. This is the first deployment for the 4-year veteran.
In the pre-dawn hours of July 17, a group of anti-Afghanistan forces gained access to a multi-story building under construction approximately 350 meters from the base and airport fence line. Fighting from the rooftop and windows on several stories, the attackers began firing rocket propelled grenades and shooting automatic weapons at the Afghan Air Force base adjoining the airport, and the U.S. Air Force FOB within the compound. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to multiple media sources.
Mr. Webb was off-duty and sleeping at the time the hostilities began, just after 4 a.m. Along with a few dozen other security forces members, he responded immediately to the threat - taking up a fighting position and returning fire at the enemy position.
"I woke up to a boom, but I've become pretty used to that sound of indirect fire," Mr. Webb said. "But when I heard bullets flying I knew this was real; it was different than usual. So I had to respond quickly. I threw on PT (physical training) gear, shoes without socks, and my protective equipment and went out to the tower."
The insurgents fired more than 20 rocket propelled grenades at the Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces and assets during the attack, detonated a vehicle-borne IED, and donned suicide vests. Due to the suppressive fire provided by Webb and fellow Airmen, the attacks were not particularly accurate. There was minor damage to facilities and property, but friendly forces received no significant injuries and no casualties during the battle.
"I probably fired for like 30-45 minutes, then ran from my tower to the next one, Tower 1, to check on them. As I ran, I had bullets that came through a fence ricocheting around me. Then I actually watched the explosion from the VBIED (vehicle-borne IED) go off. It was huge!"
The attack ultimately ended when an Afghan-led quick reaction force, enabled by the suppressive fire from the Air Force defenders, arrived at the enemy position and swept the building to eliminate the remaining attackers. Based on preliminary analysis, at least four insurgents were killed.
Mr. Webb is deployed from his home station of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca., where he works in the 30th Security Forces Squadron.