Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — A series of command errors set the stage for a Taliban attack on a remote American outpost that left eight U.S. soldiers dead four months ago in one of the war's most lethal ground assaults, according to a U.S. military report released Friday.
The investigation of the Oct. 3 onslaught at a small installation in eastern Afghanistan's Nuristan province calls for sanctions against at least two commanders, according to officials familiar with the report. Only the report's executive summary was made public.
The report praised soldiers and their junior officers at Combat Outpost Keating for "heroically" repelling an attack by an insurgent force five times their number. It also concluded that measures needed to protect the outpost had not been taken, leaving it vulnerable to attack. It cited key lapses in surveillance, and said intelligence gatherers had become "desensitized" to reports of insurgents massing in preparation for an attack.
At the time of the onslaught, the outpost, in rugged terrain near the Pakistani frontier, was already slated to be closed. The military had concluded that it did not serve any purpose in halting cross-border infiltration by insurgents, who merely made slight alterations in their route to avoid it.