Attack on Bari Alai

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Attack on Bari Alai (2009)
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Observation Post Bari Alai May 1st 2009 Aftermath.png
Aftermath of OP Bari Alai following the May 1st Attack
Date 1 May 2009
Location Bari Alai OP, perimeter of Nishagam Kunar province, Afghanistan

Taliban tactical victory;

  • Coalition garrison depilated
  • All U.S personnel killed
  • Observation Post taken
 United States
Afghanistan Taliban insurgents
Commanders and leaders
United States Staff Sergeant. William D. Viles
Latvia Sergeant. Voldemars Ansevics
4 (Latvia)
3 (U.S)
12 (ANA)
100-200 insurgent fighters
Casualties and losses
U.S. casualties
Latvian casualties
2 KIA, 2 WIA
Afghan casualties'
12 captured (released)
19 KIA, presumably higher numbers in aftermath

On the early hours of 1 May 2009, an estimated 100 to 200 heavily armed Taliban insurgents launched a semi-coordinated[citation needed] uphill assault against the Bari Alai observation post (OP) manned by Latvian and United States International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers. The attack was successful in causing casualties among ISAF forces but failed to achieve the objective of securing a possible strategic location.


The outpost served as a tactically critical and observant mountain post with convergence of the Kunar River valley. 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.[citation needed] Staff Sergeant William D.Miles was the adviser/supervisor[citation needed] for the 12 local Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, which included an interpreter.


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. U.S Army Staff Sergeant William D. Vile was hit by incoming hostile gunfire but was able to reach his subordinates to call for reinforcements and artillery support before he was killed[1] by an explosive penetrated round. He was subsequently awarded the Silver Star Medal for his act of battlefield valor.

The outer perimeter of the base was breached when U.S Sergeant James D. Pirtle was killed.[2] He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Specialist Ryan C. King took cover with the remaining Latvian troops[citation needed] returning the fire from their positions. Latvian Pfc. Andrejs Merkusevs fell dead[3] by a stray bullet.[citation needed] King soon followed[4] along with Latvian Sergeant Voldemars Ansevics who was killed[3] by a grenade blast[citation needed] that gravely wounded the third Latvian 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 U.S officials,[citation needed] allegedly never fired a gun during the hour-long battle. It's known that 19 Taliban combatants were confirmed KIA.[citation needed] The insurgents took off with the Afghan army garrison 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, no Americans made it out alive. Five ISAF servicemen were pronounced dead at the scene.


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