By Barbara Starr
Taliban video purporting to show the aftermath of a brazen attack on American and British troops in Afghanistan isn't what it claims to be, according to an intelligence analysis by coalition forces.
Part of the footage features a coalition helicopter that wasn't deployed at Camp Bastion at the time of Friday evening's attack, according to British Army Lt. Col. Martin Morris, deputy spokesman for NATO forces headquartered at the joint base.
Daylight footage of the CH-53 helicopter is actually four to six weeks old, Morris said. That type of aircraft had not been stationed at Bastion for more than a month, he said.
Additionally, smoke rising near the landing helicopter came from a burn pit where base garbage is incinerated, Morris said Wednesday.
Two U.S. Marines were killed and a half-dozen Harrier jets were left in ruins after the raid at the installation in the remote desert region of Helmand.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility.
The Afghan Taliban's media unit released two clips showing what it claims is video of the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the online activities of militant groups.
Despite evidence of misrepresentation by the Taliban, the video is an important clue that the Taliban had been conducting reconnaissance of Bastion for some time, Morris said.
British military accounts of the attack say coalition troops fought "pockets of resistance over a period of some four hours" rather than the two or three hours originally reported.
When the attackers reached the airfield, they were targeting tower guards with heavy gunfire.
Royal Air Force units quickly deployed to the site, according to a posting on the Ministry of Defence website.
"The RAF Regiment gunners' aim was to reclaim control of the airfield," the post said.
This is perhaps the clearest indication to date that the airfield was not under full control of allied forces.
British Apache helicopters flew over the airfield to help target insurgents, with about 30 UK armed troops on the airfield for a counterattack. One of the British commanders on the airfield was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Killed in the attack were U.S. Marines Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27. Raible was commander of Harrier Marine Attack Squadron 211.
The attack unfolded when 15 insurgents armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests set off explosives at the fence line of the base. There is increasing evidence that attackers found a blind spot in the multiple layers of perimeter security.
"It's pretty clear that it was well-planned. It's pretty clear that reconnaissance was done prior to," said Australian Brig. Gen. Roger Noble, deputy chief of staff for operations for NATO's International Security Assistance Force. "And like any good attack, it's selected an approach, looking for a weakness or a vulnerability in a particular position, and it's exploited those things."
Morris said it seems at this point that all phases of the attack were accomplished without any need for inside help. "There is no evidence to substantiate they had inside help," he said.
Morris noted that although there have been reports the attackers were wearing U.S. military uniforms, their actual clothing was mismatched. Many items had outdated camouflage patterns no longer in use.
Camp Leatherneck, the U.S. side of the joint base, was not affected by the attack, said Maj. Adam N. Wojack, an ISAF spokesman.