Why the Kabul attack lasted 20 hours
An ISAF helicopter arrives to transport wounded foreign soldiers from the building where Taliban fighters attacked the most heavily protected part of Kabul on September 14, 2011. (Photo credit SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
September 15th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Why the Kabul attack lasted 20 hours

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

To hear the Pentagon and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officials tell it, when a group of insurgents began an attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters in the heart of Kabul, the Afghan security reacted “quickly” with a “strong response”.

So why did it take 20 hours to end the battle.

The main fight pitted seven insurgents armed with AK-47s, Rocket-propelled grenades and ordinary grenades against, US, British and Afghan Special Forces backed up by helicopter gunships and the world’s most sophisticated command and control system.

Maj. Gen. Tim Evans of the British Army serves in Kabul as the Chief of Staff for the ISAF Joint Command. He said ISAF thinks the date of the attack was not arbitrary. “We do believe they were trying to do an attack on the anniversary of 9/11,” Evans said during a satellite briefing from Kabul with the Pentagon press corps.

Evans said Afghan Security forces quickly “contained” the insurgents inside a 13-story hotel that was still under construction.

“Once they were contained, there was no point trying to rush that operation,” Evans said. “If at night, as you try and clear through the stairways, the lift shafts, up through the different floors, you are going to do it deliberately, particularly when you know that those individuals are willing to die.”

“As you will understand on these operations, it does take time,” he said.

Evan’s made clear that it was the results of the fight, not the duration that mattered most. “All seven of the insurgents died. But we did not have any deaths as we cleared the operation. Which I think as you can understand is a good affect and a good result.”

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Filed under: 9/11 • Afghanistan • ISAF • Kabul • Military
soundoff (21 Responses)
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  4. Joe

    I have no problems with this scenario.
    The news organizations made it sound like the whole city was under siege for a day.
    A bit different.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:13 am | Reply
  5. Indian PM drinks his pee

    Amit, bro stop kissing the Yankee butt. They ain't giving your family any more visas. BTW, did you have your glass of fresh pee this morning?

    September 27, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply
  6. Muhammad

    USA should avoid any adventure on Pakistan's Soil, Mark my words we Pakistani's will make Graveyard for USA soldiers, we have given lives of 35000 innocent Pakistani's and still USA is showing eyes his frontline ally. We are Ready to die for Pakistans soil , are you ready ?

    September 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  7. centsless

    Please folks. NATO (US) could have ended this much faster were it not for the "rules of war". We don't use poison gas, It would have been frowned upon to burn them alive and I sppose there was an actaul desire to try and save the structure. I doubt that it would have taken ten minutes to kill these a*****s if if there weren't other lives and property at stake as well.
    So, get real. There was simply no need to go about this quickly. This was a tactical response, not even a defensive one really.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  8. Dan Kilroy

    Why is it important how long it took? The mission was accomplished with no friendly casualties. If speed was the objective an air strike would have accomplished it in minutes. Preconceived notions are once again attempting to define success and failure.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:13 am | Reply
  9. Dan

    7 Insurgents in a fixed location and it took them 20 hours, so if it was 49 insurgents thye would probably be still fighting, bunch of sissy assed special forces, I'm suprised they didn't try to nuke the building! No wonder the North Koreans/Chinese/Iran are laughing at us, and totally unafraid to battle us anywhere /anytime!

    September 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • InTheFightOEF

      Who are you Dan? Easy to talk smack about soldiers actually in the fight from behind your computer. Ha Its people like you who are never pleased. If we would have taken out the building and killed the 7 in 5min you would still sit behind that same computer and say how horrible we are for causing so much devistation. I like to think there are less of your kind in America and more people with an actual brain. Millenium Hippie. You dont understand the situation on the ground to even comment. And as for the North Koreans/Iran not being scared of us... HAHA If they are not scared then why do the Iranians send so called "warriors" to HIDE behind innocent civilians and burry bombs in the ground to kill Western Soldiers, that ultimately kill local nationals. Oh and then they blame it on us killing the innocent. And as for the North Koreans ...that must be a joke, little short man Kim Jong iL is like a child throwing a temper that will one day be put in timeout or have his bottom spanked. China will not mess with us b/c that would be bad for busniess being as America has sold its soul and moved all business overseas to their shores aka sweatshops... God Bless America and the Soldiers that fight day in and day out for your ungratefullness...

      September 19, 2011 at 3:03 am | Reply
      • ranger 830

        Maybe Dano would like to mount up and show all of us how its done!!!!!!! Put your money where your big fat mouth is Dano grow a sack and show us how to win this war Dano!!!!!! I have been there done that and got the t-shirt Dano.I have news for you this is not call of duty on the x-box.You are a couch commando for sure!!!!!!!
        RLTW FOXTROT.....TANGO......WHISKY......HOW COPY............OVER!!!!!!!!

        September 20, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Dave

      I was there, maybe you could have done better? Unless you were there, don't waste our time with your ignorant commnets.

      September 20, 2011 at 6:34 am | Reply
  10. FreeWorld

    "US, British and Afghan Special Forces backed up by helicopter gunships and the world’s most sophisticated command and control system"
    You all are idiots ...lets shove that ego up your ass for a moment and accept the truth...1 – this show the inability to protect and defense the heart and mind of the people ... 2 this show weakness as the West are afraid for losses.. 3 All Nato forces cant fight for sh*t against 7 Taliban – 4 After 10 years of war against the Taliban yet Nato are unable to protect themselves let alone helping the Afghan people.

    September 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Reply
    • ranger 830


      September 20, 2011 at 9:53 am | Reply
  11. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    SIMPLE....B'coz of Pakistani involvement.

    Anyone who believes that those Af-Pak illiterates fed on a diet of hateful Koranic verses can SUCCEED in such organized resistance is just fooling themselves.

    Likewise, anyone believeing that EXTRAORDINARILY SOPHISTICATED PLANS such as 9/11, 7/7. 26/11 etc, requiring way more than a mere HS or college education is again folling themselves.

    Lastly anyone believing that thsoe islamic zealots have teh ability to put together a NUCLEAR DEVOCE (even a crude one) w/o help is just fantsaising.

    NONE OF THIS IS POSSIBLE W/O HELP FROM WELL TRAINED PAKISTANI DEFENCE PERSONNEL (e.g. their former ISI Chief Mohammed Gul & his team, teh current ISI chief Pasha & team), & HIGHLY EDUCATED PAKISTANI INTELLECTUALS (Dr.Afia Siddiqui etc.).

    By closing our eyes to this OMNII-PRESENT threat both from Pakistan and their DIASPORA right here, We are ONLY INVITING OUR DOOM as already discussed by several leading former CIA & FBI agents (Just do a GOOGLE search).

    September 18, 2011 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • mirza


      The INS called, your H1B is expiring....

      September 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • KRM1007

      Your ranting justifies Pakistan getting a seat in the Security Council for their sheer briliance.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    • kuss chut

      hey dot head, sleep well, no one is coming to eat u

      September 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  12. HR

    NZSAS – out.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  13. IThinkImMe

    7 semi-organized people with a minor to moderate cache of weapons vs. the US army, marines and local special forces. Sounds more like a scouting mission to me.

    September 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  14. Really???

    It looks like the insurgents lost 100% when they went head to head with fighters instead of slinking around with bombs among civilians. These 7 popped up, & all 7 went down hard. Congratulations for the good guys who took the time to do it right. Continue to be safe guys.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply

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