Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for March 2009

by Joachim Jacob

From the "Airpower Summaries", released on USAF's public main website, for March 2009 I extracted and edited all available info related to A-10 Thunderbolt II combat missions in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom). The mostly daily airpower summaries for OEF and OIF are provided by Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) officials at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. According to the sources, all of the listed missions were confirmed successful by on-scene joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs).

Mar. 1: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs responded to a ground engagement between anti-Afghan forces and coalition troops, employing 500-pound general purpose bombs and cannon strafes to attack enemy positions. The jets also used marking rounds to clearly identify the positions and confirm target identity with coalition ground observers before releasing their weapons. Near Orgun, A-10s struck an enemy firing site with 500-pound general purpose bombs, halting an enemy mortar attack against a coalition forward base. An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft targeted additional enemy personnel in the area using a Hellfire missile strike. Enemy indirect fire teams had threatened not just the base but also the surrounding settlement with their scattered mortar fire until they were stopped by the strikes. An A-10 and an F-15E conducted shows of force to deter enemy action during rebuilding efforts in the Ghazni and Gardez regions respectively. Coalition convoys successfully delivered humanitarian aid, medical care and reconstruction materials to these areas.

Mar. 2: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs dropped general purpose 500-pound bombs, striking a large group of anti-Afghan fighters amassed for an attack on a coalition forward base near Asmar. The strike repelled the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy force. Near Sheykhabad, an A-10 flew a show of force to stop an enemy sniper attack against a coalition convoy. The attack ceased after the maneuver and the convoy preceded on to complete its mission. An A-10 flew shows of force to establish presence near Nangalam as coalition representatives met with tribal leaders and soldiers provided medical treatment for local residents. The humanitarian operation was completed without interference from enemy forces.

Mar. 3: No A-10 info

Mar. 4: Near Asadabad, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs hit a group of enemy fighting positions with 30mm cannon strafing passes, stopping an anti-Afghan ground attack against a coalition outpost. The outpost requested the air strike after enemy personnel fired on them with assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire. A-10s rolled in near a coalition forward base in Jalalabad, using general purpose 500 pound bombs and 30mm cannon strafes to hit enemy positions during a ground attack. The attack was repelled with enemy forces taking heavy losses in the process. In the vicinity of Mata Khan, an A-10 flew a show of force, expending flares, to aid a coalition convoy in breaking away from an enemy ambush. The convoy was able to withdraw and returned to base with the aircraft flying overwatch.

Mar. 5: An A-10 flew a show of force near a dismounted coalition patrol performing a mission near Asadabad to discourage enemy attack. The ground force commander called for the show of force since the unit had taken enemy small arms fire in that area earlier in the day. Over a highway near Sheykhabad, an A-10 flew a show of force to disperse people engaged in suspicious activity in the path of an approaching coalition convoy. The group dispersed following the maneuver. A-10s flew shows of force near a coalition forward base in Ghazni to establish an aerial security presence to prevent a potential enemy attack. Coalition security and reconstruction operations from the base continued without interference.

Mar. 6: In the vicinity of Asadabad, an A-10 Thunderbolt II flew a show of force to suppress enemy fire as a Coalition and Afghan National Army ground force assaulted an enemy compound. The jet remained on scene to provide aerial reconnaissance for the ground commander. In Bagram, an A-10 flew a show of force when enemy forces began firing toward security personnel with automatic weapons. Anti-Afghan forces broke off their attack and withdrew when the aircraft arrived. An A-10 performed several shows of force supporting coalition positions during its patrol in the Garmser region. The positions requested shows of force to deter anti-Afghan forces attempting to conduct IED, mortar and direct attacks against friendly units.

Mar. 7: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs targeted enemy snipers during a battle between anti-Afghan forces and coalition soldiers in a valley outside Bagram. After marking the snipers' positions with smoke, the A-10s rolled in, using 30mm Avenger cannons to hit each enemy fighting position. After eliminating the sniper threat, the A-10s reengaged and strafed an enemy command position. Following the engagement, the aircraft flew a show of force over a base in order to deter enemy small-arms fire from outside the base perimeter. Near Asadabad, A-10s aided coalition ground forces during a nighttime firefight by providing illumination flares and marking enemy positions with smoke. Due to the close proximity of positions in the engagement, the A-10s withheld weapons strikes but provided aerial overwatch and spotted targets until the fight ended.

Mar. 8: An A-10 Thunderbolt II executed a show of force and expended a number of flares over anti-Afghan forces concealed in a residential block, helping a friendly supply convoy withdraw from the enemy's attack. Enemy fire ceased when the aircraft arrived.

Mar. 9: Not released

Mar. 10: In the vicinity of Malek Din, an A-10 Thunderbolt II preemptively flew a show of force in the route of a coalition convoy, expending flares. The maneuver was intended to discourage enemy action while the convoy passed a point where enemy forces historically set up ambushes.

Mar. 11: No A-10 info

Mar. 12: No A-10 info

Mar. 13: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-15E Strike Eagles used a mix of guided and general-purpose munitions to strike enemy indirect fire positions that were taking shots at a coalition forward base near Worzhanah Kalay. Enemy forces had been periodically firing at the base with rockets and mortars. An A-10 flew several shows of force and expended flares to stop enemy attacks while providing overwatch to coalition convoys transiting roads through Shurakian and Sangin. The aircraft quickly executed the maneuvers after convoy vehicles started taking automatic weapons and RPG fire.

Mar. 14: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used 30 mm Avenger cannon strafes and guided bomb unit-38s to target a concentrated force of anti-Afghan fighters after they initiated an attack on a coalition patrol near Musa Qala. The A-10s then stayed on station providing strafes and bomb drops as the enemy attempted to press their offensive. One A-10's precision GBU-38 strike hit enemy forces just a few hundred meters from the coalition position. Multiple enemy rocket-propelled grenade, rifle and machine gun teams were killed in the engagement. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornets arrived at the end of the fight to provide air cover as a coalition medical helicopter arrived to retrieve casualties. Another battle took place near a coalition forward base in Bagram, with several flights of Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and B-1B Lancers arriving to assist ground forces. During the fight, the aircraft employed shows of force, numerous strafing attacks, and a number of both guided and general-purpose munitions to hit anti-Afghan personnel massed in the open and in fighting positions along the mountainsides. A-10s also marked ground targets with smoke in order to coordinate strikes and help orient friendly air and ground forces. The enemy suffered severe losses during their unsuccessful attack. Near Nangalam, a group of enemy gunmen readying for an attack on a coalition unit was detected by an Army unmanned aerial vehicle. The gunmen were holding position, apparently waiting for nearby F-15Es and A-10 fighters flying overwatch to leave. When the aircraft pulled back to a hold position out of visual range, the gunmen began firing and attempted an assault. The aircraft returned, dropping GBU-38s on the enemy positions, and quickly ended the fight.

Mar. 15: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used GBU-38s and 30mm cannon fire to destroy enemy fighting positions in caves near Bagram. The strikes took place after enemy forces opened fire on a coalition forward base with assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Mar. 16: No A-10 info

Mar. 17: No A-10 info

Mar. 18: An A-10 Thunderbolt II dropped guided bomb unit-38s on an anti-Afghan mortar team in the vicinity of Orgun. The strike occurred in response to enemy mortar attack against coalition ground forces. The A-10 also preformed a show of force to deter enemy fire on a coalition convoy. An A-10 performed a show of force in response to enemy fire against a forward base. The maneuver ended the attack and caused enemy personnel to retreat.

Mar. 19: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-15E Strike Eagles targeted anti-Afghan forces in the Asadabad region with a mix of guided-bomb units and general- purpose bombs. The strikes destroyed multiple fortified enemy-fighting positions and hit rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun teams. The engagement was part of a lengthy battle between coalition and anti-Afghan forces continuing throughout the day.

Mar. 20: Coalition aircraft, Strike Eagles, and an A-10 Thunderbolt II performed shows of force in the Ghazni, Bagram, Shurakian and Tarin Kowt areas to deter the threat of enemy aggression on coalition ground forces and convoys.

Mar. 21: F-15E Strike Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs intervened near Nangalam after anti-Afghan forces launched an attack against a coalition forward base. The jets used strafes and guided bomb unit-31s and -38s to knock out enemy indirect fire and automatic-weapons positions on mountain ridges overlooking the base. The strikes, combined with fire from coalition ground units and from troops at the forward base, put a halt to the enemy attack. In the vicinity of Jalalabad, an A-10 flew a show of force near a coalition border checkpoint after enemy forces fired mortars towards the outpost. The maneuver prevented additional enemy activity or fire against the base.

Mar. 22: In the Nangalam area, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs hit several enemy rocket-propelled grenade positions during a firefight between coalition forces and anti-Afghan gunmen. The jets hit specific buildings where the enemy fighting positions were located, using smaller GBU-38 precision weapons to prevent excess damage to surrounding structures. Near Monari, A-10s performed shows of force over a coalition forward base to deter suspected enemy activity in the area and preserve peace. The additional security provided by the aircraft helped foster a safer environment for both coalition personnel and local residents.

Mar. 23: No A-10 info

Mar. 24: In the vicinity of Worzhanah Kalay, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs used smoke to mark enemy positions before teaming up to take them out with a GBU-38 and general purpose 500-pound bombs. The aircraft worked in teams to positively identify enemy fighters before employing munitions, ensuring weapons landed precisely on target.

Mar. 25: A Navy F/A-18C Hornet and an A-10 Thunderbolt II executed shows of force near Garmser and Tigari respectively as deterrent to enemy attack on friendly convoys. The aircraft provided a strong additional level of security to prevent interference with delivery of humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to Afghan residents.

Mar. 26: An A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-15E flew additional shows of force over Garmser and Bagram in order to deter enemy activity in those areas.

Mar. 27: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-15Es flew shows of force and provided aerial overwatch in multiple areas to deter enemy aggression against coalition ground forces and convoys.

Mar. 28: In the Gardez area, an A-10 Thunderbolt II flew a show of force, expending a number of flares, to deter an enemy force attack while providing overwatch for a coalition medical evacuation by helicopter. Enemy forces had detonated an improvised explosive device against an Afghan National Army unit.

Mar. 29: An A-10 Thunderbolt II and a Navy Super Hornet provided shows of force to coalition units as deterrent to enemy activity as those units travelled through the Bagram and Tarin Kowt areas. A coalition aircraft also conducted a show of force in the Garmser area after ground forces spotted enemy personnel moving nearby. The effect of each show of force was that anti-Afghan forces were unable to act while reconstruction and security operations were carried out.

Mar. 30: A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and an MQ-1 Predator engaged anti-Afghan forces near Nurestan using rockets and strafing fire from the A-10s, and a Hellfire missile from the unmanned aircraft system. The strike took place during a firefight on the ground in which anti-Afghan gunmen hit a coalition patrol with assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. The strikes allowed the friendly unit to withdraw and inflicted casualties on the anti-Afghan attackers.

Mar. 31: In Afghanistan, a large, two-day battle between coalition forces and anti-Afghan forces concluded after extensive airpower and ground force engagement, resulting in heavy losses to enemy personnel. Dozens of aircraft from the Navy and Air Force, Royal Air Force and other coalition partners employed guided bomb units, cannon strafes and rocket fire against enemy fighting positions, buildings and personnel concentrations while providing continuous aircover to friendly ground units. Initial reports estimated more than 30 enemy personnel were killed in the fight, which began as an improvised explosive attack followed up with mortar and automatic weapons fire.

In Ghazni and Bagram, A-10s performed shows of force and expended flares to stop indirect fire attacks against coalition forward bases. Enemy forces concealed in populated civilian areas had fired mortars from civilian buildings, prompting the aircraft to use shows of force instead of bombs. The maneuvers successfully ended the enemy attacks.

See also:
A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for February 2009
A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for January 2009
A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for December 2008
A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for November 2008
A-10 Afghanistan Combat Summary for October 2008

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