In my new novel, Death’s Door, undercover P.I. and ex-Navy SEAL Jesse Yates has a conversation with a suspected hijacker in an Alabama honky-tonk. When the guy nearly jumps out of his skin because somebody tapped him on the shoulder, he recovers and says one word to Yates: “Keating.” Although Yates hadn’t been there, he understood. Combat Outpost Keating was under constant pressure from the Taliban and was the site of one of the worst battles in the Afghanistan war.
I was amazed at what I found out about COP Keating. As was often the case, our troops did a hell of a job there, despite a history of bureaucratic bungling. First of all, the camp was located in an almost indefensible location, practically surrounded by steep mountains, crawling with Taliban snipers. When it was finally ordered shut down, there was a long delay in carrying out the order, again, for largely bureaucratic reasons.
A report after the major battle blamed a “mindset of imminent closure” for the fact that the outpost’s defenses were never upgraded, despite intelligence reports of a large scale enemy attack. There were 47 attacks in the five months preceding the showdown, 10 of which hat occurred in the previous month. The report also mentioned that senior commanders were “desensitized” the threat of a large scale attack, having heard it so often over the previous months. It sounds sort of like Hillary Clinton and Benhazi.
So, once again, U.S. troops fought valiantly despite costly failures up and down the increasingly bureaucratic chain of command. Eight valiant soldiers died in the day-long battled during which our troops heard the dreaded words, “enemy in the wire,” as the outpost was being over run. Taliban KIA: 150.
This is a truly heroic story, that you probably didn’t hear about, for one reason or the other. If you’re interest in finding out more, Jake Tapper’s book, The Outpost , is a good place to start, but I urge you to stay here first and watch the YouTube depiction of the battle. You’ll find it hard to believe there are people who can actually do this stuff. And you’ll be thankful they’re on our side.