Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 27, 2020

The Air War In Afghanistan Expands On Both Sides

Under the Trump administration U.S. air attacks in Afghanistan have sharply increased. But it now seems that the Taliban have acquired some means to counter them.

Last year the U.S. dropped a record number of bombs on Afghanistan leading to ever increasing casualties among civilians:

According to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) 2013-2019 Airpower Statistics released in late January, 7,423 missions flown in Afghanistan in 2019 resulted in weapons being released. There were more weapon releases in most months of the year than in any corresponding months since records were first released in 2009, with September recording the most for the year at 948.

The previous annual record was 7,362 set in 2018, and the last two years together have seen more weapon releases over Afghanistan than the combined number for 2012 through to 2017.

Twenty bombing strikes per day is a quite astonishing number. Many civilians get killed in this U.S. bombing campaign. The U.S. often seems not to know who it is hitting. This report from last week is typical:

A drone attack carried out by U.S. forces earlier this month in western Afghanistan that apparently targeted a splinter Taliban group also killed at least 10 civilians, including three women and three children, an Afghan rights official and a council member said Wednesday.
There was no immediate comment from the Afghan military or the U.S. forces. But Wakil Ahmad Karokhi, a provincial council member in Herat, said the Jan. 8 strike also killed the commander of a Taliban splinter group, known as Mullah Nangyalia, along with 15 other militants.
The commanders funeral the following day was held in the Herat provincial capital’s Guzargah neighborhood, and was attended by dozens of militants.

Karokhi criticized the strike as “huge mistake” saying the commander had been a useful buffer against the Taliban in Shindand district, taking up arms with his fighters against the insurgents “when no one else would do it" and leaving the area's civilians in peace.

The U.S. military and its allies and Afghan proxies are not the only ones fighting. The Taliban can hit back at helicopters and planes and, judging from the number of recent air incidents, they now have found effective means to do so. Two days ago they destroyed another helicopter:

Drexluddin Spiveyzai @RisboLensky - 9:44 UTC · Jan 25, 2020

Helicopter hit by missile in Kajaki area of #Helmand 4 soldiers wounded via @TOLOnews #Afghanistan

Its #Moldova flag. Helicopter got hit pretty bad. True miracle there are no deaths

#Taliban took responsibility for shooting down of military helicopter in #Helmand #Afghanistan

This is the 4th helicopter that went down in January

Video from Kajaki

Four helicopter losses in one month is quite significant.

Earlier today there were reports that a civilian Afghan airliner had come down. Those turned out to be false. But a plane had indeed crashed in Ghazni province south of Kabul. It was a military one:

Harry Boone @towersight - 12:37 UTC · Jan 27, 2020

Wreck of plane crashed today in Afghanistan looks like to be a USAF Bombardier Global 6000 / E-11A "BACN" (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node)

Four U.S. E-11As are assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron and operate usually from Kandahar AB.

There are video of the burning and burned out plane.


Afghan sources say the Taliban claimed that they shot down the plane. Others deny that. What is sure though is that the plane crashed into Taliban held territory. At least two persons on board were killed.


The "BACN" flying radio relay stations have been in Afghanistan for a while. A military report from March 2017 said:

Called “as essential to mission success as bullets,” the E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node flew its 10,000th sortie Feb. 24, 2017 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, since arriving in Afghanistan eight years ago.

The 430th Expeditionary Electronic Squadron operating out of Kandahar is the only unit in the U.S. Air Force that operates the E-11A with the BACN payload. It was created to fulfill what is called a joint urgent operational need, when it was identified that the terrain of Afghanistan posed serious communication challenges.



There appear to exist only four of these planes which are heavily modified Bombardier Global 6000 ultra long-range business jets. They are only used in Afghanistan.

The loss is significant. The ground troops depend on radio communication when they direct bombers to their targets. Without the flying relay stations they have no chance to do so in Afghanistan's mountainous terrain.

It is not known what new means the Taliban have to take down planes and helicopters. In 2018 a few Stinger anti-air missiles were found during a raid on some Taliban. But those seem to have been old and were probably no longer functioning. Helicopters can be brought down with machine guns or even with anti-tank missiles (RPGs).

But the E-11A usually fly at a significant altitude and the crashed plane was not near an airport. The usual man-portable air-defense missiles (MANPAD) like the U.S. made Stinger reach a maximum altitude of only some 3.500 meters. 

That opens the possibility that the Taliban have acquired new supplies of larger missiles. One wonders where those would come from.

On January 5 Hizbullah leader Hassan Nazrallah announced how the 'resistance axis' would respond to the U.S. murder of the Iranian General Soleimani and the Iraqi PMU leader Al-Muhandis.

The response to the blood of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis must be expulsion of all U.S. forces from the region.

Using effective means to take down even high flying U.S. planes would be one possible way to achieve that aim.

But Iran is not the only possible source of such missiles. China and Russia also produce effective anti-air missiles and the military in Pakistan and in Tajikistan have bought those in significant numbers. All these countries usually hold back from providing anti-air missiles to militants as they could also endanger their own (civil) airplanes.

But the loss of five aircraft in one month in Afghanistan might well mean that this has changed.

Posted by b on January 27, 2020 at 16:03 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: Walter | Jan 28 2020 15:16 utc | 148

1) don’t you think that the USA and Israel are an absolute evil? (no)

Walter, it seems you're a great specialist in all kinds of crap, since you can tell the difference between 200 kinds of BS.

Can you read? If you can read, can you understand what you read?

Posted by: Jean | Jan 29 2020 8:14 utc | 201

Posted by: Chevrus | Jan 28 2020 13:54 utc | 141

Perhaps you could go post your single sentence run-on elsewhere for better results....

Who do you think you are, if you think you have the right to give such advice?

There will always be someone who will send you to hell. And it will not look tolerant.

Posted by: Jean | Jan 29 2020 8:23 utc | 202

: A P | Jan 28 2020 19:01 utc | 174 Thanks so much for sharing.

Jean | Jan 29 2020 8:23 utc | 202 I am waiting for the explanation.

Best to you both.

The expression "wipe..." as posted advocated an insane and criminal holocaust of proportions that beggar the previous holocausts. I was and am shocked by such nazi-like sentiments...which are at least every bit as criminal as the zionish project - which so far has not "wiped" anything except the reputation of Jews.

Perhaps you do not realized that these criminal idea which were and are expressed are identical in character to the nature of the primitive zionists of the 1940's. You may want to read Einstein's letter to the New York times about the matter.

It begins>

"Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine. " And goes on. Pay attention to who signed it.

Best to you all, Friends, and thanks again...oh, by the way, did anybody take even one Rhetoric class or read Aristotle on the subject?... (my especial remark to those who seem to doubt reading ability) I read the Rhetoric in High School, in Latin. We had to translate it and copy it in cursive. (alas, not in Greek, pity)

Repeat - advocating such ideas are something to be ashamed of.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 11:01 utc | 203

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 11:01 utc | 203

The fact that you can read is already good. Now you need to take the next step and prove whether you can adequately understand what you read. By the way, why are all your posts so lengthy? Do you know that brevity is the sister of talent?

[...] the zionish project - which so far has not "wiped" anything except the reputation of Jews.

Are you sure the zionish project has not "wiped" anything except the reputation of Jews? What about Israel's violation of the sovereignty of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran?

What can you say about the attitude of Jews to Palestinians and Trump's new plan to resettle Palestinians on reservations like North American Indians? Do you think Israel is a racist state or not? Is Israel's policy similar to that of Nazi Germany?

Posted by: Jean | Jan 29 2020 11:40 utc | 204

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 11:01 utc | 203

Can you cite at least one case of oppression of Iranian Jews by the authorities?

Posted by: Jean | Jan 29 2020 11:44 utc | 205

Jean | Jan 29 2020 11:44 utc | 205 (
(Can you cite at least one case of oppression of Iranian Jews by the authorities?)

"Authorities" are everywhere, any specific gang?

I suppose some sleuthing might find some, but I have no idea why you are asking, as I have said previously nothing on such a topic.

I have known a few Iranians over a long life, but I have no idea about their religious affiliations. Friends of friends I met in the 1970's. Nice people. What we did speak of in those youthful days was the Shaw's cruelty to Iranians generally, which was appalling to hear - as of course the MSM was/is mostly deception.

I want to emphasize that the sullied (to say the least!) reputation of Jews comes as a consequence of the identical natures of "zionism" and "nazi-ism"...zionism is anti-Jewish, and it's ruining Jewry, their reputation, as I suppose the German nazi sullied forever (more or less) the reputation of Germans. "zionism" is quite liable to bring pogroms, it's criminal and stupid.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 12:18 utc | 206

Jean | Jan 29 2020 11:40 utc | 204 (what [Walter] needs)

Thanks for sharing. I am ever so happy to know this from such an expert pedantic critic.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 12:29 utc | 207

Jean | Jan 29 2020 11:40 utc | 204 Brevity

"wipe.." as posted referred to mass murder and physical destruction of about 4 100 million souls and a continent, and would result in most of the Northern Hemisphere being depopulated to near zero. The zionists may threaten, but they have not "wiped".

To do hope that's brief enough for you.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 12:33 utc | 208

@Walter | Jan 29 2020 12:33 utc | 208:

The zionists may threaten, but they have not "wiped"

That's rather spectacularly dishonest of you.
I seem to remember Zionists wiping a few palestinian villages off the map.
For example Deir Yassin.

I seem to remember the Zionists wiping women and children off the map, in Gaza.
I seem to remember the IDF wiping women and children out in Qana in 2006 ...

Are you for real?

Posted by: Arch Mangle | Jan 29 2020 15:10 utc | 209

: Arch Mangle | Jan 29 2020 15:10 utc | 209

It's not dishonest when you read the entire series on the topic.

Re-read, please. You'll have to go back to the original threats made here by another person, who advocated wiping the USA and Israel (all of Palestine for practical purposes) off the face of the earth. This Crime is the topic, but maybe you've missed it. Advocating a crime is not ok. It's illegal, it's unChristian, and unJewish.

zionists presumably did not say that at MoA about the wiping, presumaby some other persuasion. Of course it is true, as everyone knows, that the entire z-project or intelop is an attempt, there has been and is a z project to liquidate the indigenous Semitic population - and that's what the NYT Einstein letter was about, in part - the nazi character of zionism.

I'd add that the zionist threats are said to be to nuke European cities as well as cities elsewhere...and other "targets" - but this is seldom reported. Thus of course the terrorist nazis make such advocacy, but their murderous ideas must be rejected, even, or especially, at MoA, don't you agree?
Best Regards.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 29 2020 15:43 utc | 210

Considering the Pompeo Doctrine about assassinating VIPs of countries that the US is not at war with, could the Russians (or the Iranians) have pulled off an air-to-air strike on "The Undertaker"'s plane? Fairs fair, right?

Posted by: Anton | Jan 29 2020 16:53 utc | 211

Afghanistan's opium is as central to financing the CIA's black ops,as the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is to Zionist control of the Western World.

Posted by: Joetv | Jan 29 2020 17:47 utc | 212

The crash was a controlled landing because the air frame is completely intact. The wings sheared off and are seen in some of the videos close to the final resting place of the fuselage. It seems like a technical failure to me and a forced landing. What kind of technical failure and what was the cause, I dont know, but it wasn't serious enough to prevent a forced landing.

Posted by: Dean | Jan 29 2020 20:11 utc | 213

E11 Aircrew Identified

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jan 29 2020 23:50 utc | 214

This could have also been a hit from a Russian or Iranian jet. After all, Pomeo the Pompous states publicly that "the rules have changed" and that China and Russia would now be subject to such assassinations of their VIPs.

Posted by: Anton | Jan 29 2020 23:52 utc | 215

My research showed that the US and Allies lost more than 400 airframes since 2001 - mostly because their overrated pilots cannot land or fly properly in dusty conditions. In fact, my late wife wrote the simulation program for helicopter training to land in the desert. But what is more interesting for the student of military history is that the Soviet pilots learned in Afghanistan to counter the US MANPAD missiles given to the Mujahedeen by the CIA. They lost about 65 airframes and will tell you today that it was a wonderful learning school. For them, it was worth it. Today they fly NAP, they know how to counter such threats. Whether the latest airframe was shot down or not is immaterial to me. The Trump White House cannot admit to that anyway, they want out, to leave the theatre before the election starts (after declaring yet another fake victory). Thank you for another good article. It is appreciated. GMJ

Posted by: George M James | Jan 30 2020 10:04 utc | 216

Posted by: George M James | Jan 30 2020 10:04 utc | 216

Thank you for your comments George, sorry about your wife. Good software engineers are hard to come by.

There is a lot of irony in what you say, too. In a way it explains why the Russians don't get too upset about our violent antics. We are our own worst enemies.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jan 30 2020 10:27 utc | 217
"Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam. He was assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia."
"Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, of Hudson, New Hampshire. He was assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota."

Joint Base Langley–Eustis–Eustis
"Langley also hosts the Global Cyberspace Integration Center field operating agency and Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC)."
“To be ready and lethal is our overall goal,” said Lt Col. Paul “Tabs” Voss, Head Quarters Air Combat Command Operations Division (A3O7) branch chief.
"...A few months later, on 1 January 1999, the AC2A again expanded its mission, taking on responsibilities such as unmanned aerial platforms, and was officially re-designated the Aerospace Command and Control & Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (AC2ISRC). The Center eventually gained the Air Force Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab, and fifteen operating locations intended to network the C2 mission.[1].."

"...The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) aerial platform, matured through JEFX experimentation, enabled the bridging of disparate tactical networks by providing a Beyond Line of Site (BLOS) C2 aerial layer network in support of OEF.
The Mission Report (MISREP) Analysis Tool (MAT)/ISR Assessment Tool (IAT), developed in partnership between AFCENT-AFC2IC-AFRL, automated rapid processing of post mission data to support operational assessment of daily airborne strike and reconnaissance operations.
The Strategic Worldwide Integration Capability (SWIC), fielded in 2008, provided the 608th Global Strike Air Operations Center with the ability to synchronize planning of air, space and cyberspace tasking in support of Global Strike operations.
The Electronic Warfare Mission Tracker enabled the 609th AOC to effectively orchestrate and assess electronic warfare effects in support of the Joint Force Commander..."

Providing a coms link is likely only a small part of the planes job description. Voss although not CIA seems tohave been in a similar line of work.

Be interesting to know if he was in the air over Iraq doing a bit of directing when Soleimani was hit.
The US response to the plane coming down is odd. If there was a mechanical problem brought to plane down, then the pilot would have reported the problem. In this case though, they make out they know nothing but don't think it was shot down. Fitting in with Trumps response to the drone shootdown (a major intel gathering asset similar to this one) and the missile hits on the bases in Iraq.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 30 2020 11:13 utc | 218

The Air Force information about the E-11 doesn't make sense.I don't expect we will ever get the truth about what actually happened.

Posted by: dorje | Feb 1 2020 3:29 utc | 219

@ William Gruff #126:

Your comment made me realise once more that I am still in thrall
to the faux Smiley cold war romance I have been spoon-fed all my life.
Reality: not as advertised. Thank you.

Posted by: Mishko | Feb 2 2020 2:51 utc | 220

Door nr.3: The Israeli's pulling a fast one to ramp up the tension.
I'm not jewing it up in my vida loca, except for when I am. /peace plan my ass.

Posted by: Mishko | Feb 2 2020 3:12 utc | 221

@ Archmangle #209

You refer to mass murder which is part of the ongoing Palestinian genocide.
Walter's wiping was in connection with the event of a nuclear war.
(also know as the Samson Option some warmongers do not like to shut up about)

Posted by: Mishko | Feb 2 2020 3:40 utc | 222

@ George M. James #216

Sorry for your loss, Mr. James. Somebody once explained to me that a helicopter
is harder to operate (steeper learning curve) than a plane.
I did not understand the flying NAP reference had to look it up. =)
"...very low-altitude flight course used by military aircraft to avoid
enemy detection and attack in a high-threat environment." aka NOE.

Posted by: Mishko | Feb 2 2020 4:00 utc | 223

Posted by: Kabobyak | Jan 27 2020 21:44 utc | 66

Yes, it could well be fake. OTOH it fits much better with the photos taken at ground level by AFP and CNN than the official 0-11-30-50-64 cases of concussion and the accounts of the raid by Danish “Sergeant John”.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Feb 2 2020 18:53 utc | 224

Posted by: lysias | Jan 27 2020 22:31 utc 

The formating of that letter on casualties at Ain al Assad reminds me of that of documents I saw when I worked in the Pentagon. It's not obvious to me that the document is phony.

Thank you for that, that's interesting. Do you happen to know if it is likely, that if the Congressman/ Chair of a House Ctte sent a FOIA request to the Pentagon he would get a truthful answer?

Posted by: foolisholdman | Feb 2 2020 19:10 utc | 225

The "letter" on casualties at Ain al Assad is undoubtedly fake. "Casualties" have parents and families who, were the letter true, be screaming. No screams. Also, if the letter were real, it'd be all over the place by now. It isn't. Interesting also that the letter's author's position has been obscured/voided. More fake news, undoubtedly. Sad.

Posted by: Sam Glasser | Feb 4 2020 2:28 utc | 226

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