Forward Operating Base Salerno
|Forward Operating Base Salerno|
|Khost (Matun) District, Khost Province, Afghanistan|
|Type||Forward Operating Base|
|Condition||Transferred to Afghan Armed Forces|
|Built by||3rd BN, 505th PIR, 82nd ABN DIV|
|Battles/wars||Operation Enduring Freedom|
Forward Operating Base Salerno is a former forward operating base used by the U.S. military from 2002-2013 during Operation Enduring Freedom. Located in the southeastern province of Khost, Afghanistan, near the city of Khost, FOB Salerno was nicknamed "Rocket City" for the numerous rocket and mortar indirect fire attacks targeting the base over the ten years that US forces occupied to post. On November 1, 2013, U.S. forces withdrew from FOB Salerno and transferred control of the installation to the Afghan National Army.
The facility was built by TF Panther in 2002, centered around the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was named for the beachhead in Salerno, Italy that the 505th PIR parachuted onto on 14 September 1943 (Operation Avalanche). Over the years, the base eventually grew to house a population of nearly 5,000 servicemen, servicewomen, civilians, and contractors. Salerno grew to the size of a small city and included features such as a combat support hospital, large gymnasium, post exchange, chapel, large chow hall, aviation hangars, maintenance facilities, billets, 5,000 ft dirt and gravel runway, forward refueling and arming point, and sub-camps for U.S. Special Operations Command units.
In November 2009, a portion of FOB Salerno, where US Special Forces worked and lived with an Afghan Commando unit, was renamed as Camp Pucino after this US Special Forces soldier's death in November 2009. SSG Matthew Pucino was a member of ODA 2223.
Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division were the last U.S. Army Soldiers to occupy FOB Salerno, exiting on 31 October 2013 after transferring FOB Salerno to the Afghan National Security Forces.
- Task Force Devil - 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division (January 2003 - July 2003)
- Task Force Devil - 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division (March 2005 - March 2006)
- Task Force Spartan - 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (March 2006 - March 2007)
- Task Force Fury - 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division (2007- March 2008)
- Task Force Currahee - 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (March 2008 - March 2009)
- Task Force Yukon - 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (March 2009 - March 2010)
- Task Force Rakkasans - 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division ( March 2010- January 2011)
- Task Force Duke - 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division  (Jan 2011 - Jan 2012)
- Task Force Spartan - 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
19 August 2008 attack
On 19 August 2008 insurgents attempted to assault FOB Salerno with a double car bomb. The bombs detonated close to the base perimeter and killed 15 Afghans. Around midnight the next day the base came under mortar fire and was attacked by about 30 Taliban insurgents. The attackers attempted to breach the base near the airfield, where there is no HESCO bastion. The attackers were also accompanied by suicide bombers, three of which detonated their vest early as they came under machine gun fire from the base. Afghan commandos are credited with surrounding the other suicide bombers before they had a chance to attack. Another group of Taliban was observed preparing for an attack 1000 meters from the base before coalition forces opened up small arms fire. Helicopter gunships later pounded the Taliban staging area, resulting in 3 deaths. After the attack the insurgents were found in possession of anti-personnel Type 69 RPG's. As anti-personnel RPG's are rare in Afghanistan it is unclear how the weapons were obtained.
2009 Regional Volatility
On 2 July 2009 a US soldier went missing from nearby FOB Sharana. The soldier was later seized by the Taliban. Taliban commander Mullah Sangreen Zadran claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. This is the only known US soldier held captive in Afghanistan.
FOB Salerno continued to receive a large amount or mortar and rocket fire through the summer of 2009. A rocket hit a large tent inside the base. Fortunately the tent was unoccupied at the time.
On 30 December 2009 FOB Chapman, another nearby installation was attacked by a suicide bomber. The attacker managed to sneak by security as he was allowed into the base and detonated himself. Seven CIA operatives were killed, making this attack the deadliest for the agency since the 1983 United States embassy bombing.
August 2010 Attack
FOB Salerno was once again attacked by a group of Taliban on 28 August 2010. The attack started around 0400 with small arms and mortar fire. In addition, suicide bombers participated in the attack. As the attack commenced, some of the insurgents were able to penetrate inside the base and attempted to detonate themselves, but were stopped by coalition forces. Afghan forces also detained five insurgents and destroyed a recoil-less rifle at the scene. After the failed assault, NATO forces conducted an airstrike on a truck occupied by three Haqqani Network fighters in the area.
June 2012 Attack
There was a complex attack against the FOB in early June 2012. Insurgents utilized a local truck packed with 1,500-2,000 pounds of explosives; a suicide bomber detonated his truck bomb on the southern edge of the base, breaching the perimeter and causing significant damage to the base's buildings. ABC News reported that the dining hall was levelled in the blast. Moments later, ten insurgents entered the breach armed with rifles, machine guns, grenades, and rockets; each bomber wore various military camouflage uniforms and wore explosive suicide vests. After an hour-long firefight, US service members repelled the attack, killing all ten insurgents. Two base contractors were killed in the attack, and a US Soldier died of his wounds days later. Although initially downplayed in the media, in July 2012 both Long War Journal and al Jazeera published an unedited attack video released by the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that an airplane on an airstrip at the base was destroyed and that 'tens' of foreign forces were killed and wounded in the attack.
- Wissing, Douglas. "Delays, Closings and Severe Weather - View All Alerts and Updates Cultivating Afghanistan: A Day on FOB Salerno". Indiana Public Media. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- Powell, Brent (26 Sep 2010). "News: Base operations section keeps Camp Salerno functional". Department of Defense News Release. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Moeller, Justin (6 Nov 2013). "Currahees transfer FOB Salerno to ANA". Department of Defense News Release. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Dettmer, Travis (25 Dec 2011). "On their way out the door, TF Duke still finds time to celebrate Christmas in Afghanistan". Department of Defense News Release. Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Service. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Matt Dupee (18 Aug 2008). "FOB Salerno withstands 2 day Taliban onslaught". The Long War Journal.
- Fanelli, James (28 August 2010). "Taliban sneak attack thwarted, Americans kill 24 Afghan insurgents trying to infiltrate U.S. bases". New York Daily News.
- New details emerge about complex attack on FOB Salerno
- Shocking Taliban propaganda video captures the moments leading up to massive suicide bombing at U.S. base that killed two Americans
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Forward Operating Base Salerno.|
- "Camp Salerno/Forward Operating Base Salerno". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 21 March 2007.