All Hail the Defenders of Spera COP!

I’ve mentioned Spera COP a time or two in this blog, but have never given the ETTs who manned it the recognition they deserve. This link to an article about the current unit occupying Spera COP lets me make amends. Spera COP was our version of the more famous COP Keating in Nuristan Province, where eight Americans lost their lives in a big battle in October 2009, and which is now being abandoned as part of a new American strategy to concentrate forces in more densely-populated areas.

For the record, there is no aspect of my service in Afghanistan I am more proud of than the good work done by Roughrider ETTs and their ANA partners at Spera COP. Isolated as hell—you couldn’t drive there—and for some reason I never could figure out, relatively neglected by the big American forces in sector—Spera COP plugged a hole in an important Taliban infiltration route from Pakistan. We knew the dooshmen hated our presence, because in March and April 2009, they attacked Spera COP almost daily.

We kept eight ETTs at a time at Spera COP, along with about 100 Afghans. The soldiers were our hardcores–the toughest, the most experienced, the calmest under pressure, the ones with the best judgment. When the attacks came, I would monitor via radio and organize help as I could. But mostly I waited it out, listening as the reports of mortars, RPGs, and small arms fire came crackling in.

One of our favorite ANA officers was Captain Azziz, the company commander whose unit was typically with us at Spera COP. Competent, brave, and personable, he helped us as much we helped him. Operating in that environment without such an extremely savvy guide would have been impossible. Unfortunately, right before I left Afghanistan, Captain Azziz was killed by an IED in another part of our operating area. Let this be his epitaph, from an American who respected him greatly.  Salaam aleikum, Captain Azziz.

Finally, I found this link to a speech on Afghanistan security and strategy on an ISAF webpage.  The speaker, a retired Army officer named Allen West, had a job in Kandahar similar to mine.  Since West is now running for Congress, I won’t endorse his comments, but will say that he frames issues in a way that I recognize and makes recommendations that are worthy of consideration.  It runs about twenty minutes, so give yourself some time.

One Response to “All Hail the Defenders of Spera COP!”

  1. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    Interesting, as always. I’m most intrigued to hear more about your job of “monitor[ing] via radio and organiz[ing] help as [you] could,” particularly the latter.

    I anticipate that this might not be something you cannot share, though.


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