Attack on Bari Alai
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Attack on Bari Alai (2009)|
|Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)|
Aftermath of the attack on OP Bari Alai (May 1st, 2009)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Stf. Sgt. William D. Vile † (US 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division)||?|
|4 Special Forces of the 1. Kājnieku bataljons||Unknown|
|19 (3 US, 4 Latvian, 12 Afghan)||100-200 insurgent fighters|
|Casualties and losses|
|3 KIA (United States)
2 KIA, 2 WIA (Latvia)
12 captured (Afghanistan)
|19 KIA, presumably higher numbers in aftermath|
The Attack on Bari Alai was a Taliban attack on an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Observation Post (OP), manned by Afghanistan, Latvian, and United States soldiers.
Observation Post Bari Alai filled tactically critical role in the Kunar River valley. It was located outside the strategic village of Nishagam in Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan. The Bari Alai outpost was defended by four Latvians from a rifle company of the (Latvian) 1st Infantry Battalion "1. Kajnieku Bataljons" and two Americans of Company B Special Troops, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, plus a US warrant officer assigned to the 1st Brigade, Military Transition Team. The four-man Latvian team was commanded by Sergeant Voldemars Ansevics. Staff Sergeant William D. Miles was the adviser/supervisor for the 12 local Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, which included an interpreter.
In the early hours on May 1, 2009 a estimated 100 to 200 Taliban insurgents launched a semi-coordinated uphill assault on OP Bari Alai, a tactically critical, fortified mountaintop outpost that overlooks the convergence of the Hel Gal, Durin, Marin, and Kunar River Valleys, as well as a bridge that spans the Kunar River. While Taliban fighters pinned down coalition troops with machine gun fire, their comrades scaled the mountainsides and advanced on the post. The assault began with a barrage of exchanged small-arms fire from insurgent positions surrounding the base while a second group split off and scaled the mountains that peaked above Bari Alai, strafing the outpost with grenade and explosive launched fire.
The first casualty was US Army Staff Sergeant William D. Vile, who was hit by incoming hostile gunfire but was able to reach his subordinates to call for reinforcements and artillery support before he was killed by an explosive penetrating round. He was subsequently awarded the Silver Star Medal for his act of battlefield valor.
The outer perimeter of the base was breached when US Sergeant James D. Pirtle was killed. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Specialist Ryan C. King took cover with the remaining Latvian troops returning the fire from their positions. Latvian Pfc. Andrejs Merkusevs fell dead by a stray bullet. King soon followed along with Latvian Sergeant Voldemars Ansevics who was killed by a grenade blast that gravely wounded the third soldier. Sgt. Ansevics and Pfc. Merkusevs were posthumously awarded the Cross of the Order of Viesturs.
The Taliban secured the OP once the resistance was overcome, capturing the 12 Afghan military soldiers who, according to US officials, allegedly hid and never fired a gun during the hour-long battle.
It is known that at least 19 Taliban combatants were killed. The insurgents took off with the Afghan soldiers eventually gardening their release untouched six days later after coalition radio commissions told them to give them up.
Coalition forces arrived hours later, finding only two Latvian soldiers who survived the assault on OP Bari Alai, one of whom was gravely wounded.