Battle Damage Assessment

Exterior wall of our dining facility, showing the effects of a direct hit from a 107mm rocket.

 

Interior view of our dining facility after being hit by a 107mm rocket.

Exterior wall of a B-hut after a direct hit by an enemy rocket.

Battle Damage Assessment, or BDA, is Army lingo for recording and reporting the results of hostile contact.  An account of casualities friendly and foe along with lists of destroyed or captured equipment is sent up the chain-of-command for analysis and archiving. 

The phrase came to mind yesterday while rummaging around on the Internet and discovering a couple of sites established by fellow Roughriders from 2008-2009.  Among the photos on those sites are the ones I have posted here, which document an important event early in my time at Camp Clark. 

In January 2009, our somewhat comfy life on Clark–“the best FOB in Afghanistan”–was disturbed by two direct hits from enemy 107mm rockets.  The first crunched into our dining facility about 9:30 at night.  I was sitting in my office about twenty meters away when it struck, and the visceral force of the explosion hit me like a punch to the stomach and drove me to the floor in a movement that was only half conscious.  Fortunately, very fortunately, no one was in the mess hall and the damage, though extensive, was not enough to force us to miss even one meal in the facility.

The second rocket smashed into a just-completed cement-and-brick “B-hut” a few nights later.  Again, very luckily, no one was inside at the time, for the force of the explosion if not the spray of shrapnel and debris would have badly hurt any occupants.

The direct hits scared the hell out of us.  If the Taliban had our range, it would only be a matter of time before they began to inflict casualties.  Not only did we need to fortify our camp defenses, we had to take measures to ensure that the enemy could not set up and aim their missiles with impunity.  Left unharrassed, no doubt they would soon begin to also engage us with mortars, an even more dangerous and accurate weapon.

For the next few months, we were as preoccupied with protecting our camp as we were with advising the ANA or conducting operations in the rest of Khowst.  We had to be, flat out, or the latter two missions would just be impossible.  Without revealing too many secrets or bragging too much, I would say that we were relatively successful.  Though the enemy fired at us many more times, they never again struck inside our compound.  With success came confidence and peace-of-mind to concentrate again on the bigger missions at hand.

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8 Responses to “Battle Damage Assessment”

  1. Renee Says:

    Pete,
    Really amazing account here of the intensity our American Soldiers encounter, while we are curled up on the couch watching reality television. Your words cut through to a part of me – where I can feel that panic and dread at realizing the enemy was actually attacking. And only our Brave and Strong would jump back up and pull the pieces together to eat that next meal as a team. I am humbled by the service of our troops. Please continue to use your words to open up a window where things only imagined become clearer.
    Renee

  2. petermolin Says:

    Renee–Thanks for the kind words. I am indeed trying to describe the war/deployment experience in a way that I haven’t found expressed elsewhere, and am glad to know you think I sometimes succeed.

    The soldiers I was with tried to meet adversity with courage, humor, stoicism, and even nonchalance. It may have been a false bravado, but we certainly couldn’t give into fear and panic. Above all we relied on teamwork, unity, and purposeful action to get through the bad times. No one could have dealt with the stress of war alone.

    -Pete

  3. Slonishku Says:

    I was the Navy Garrison S4 who built those CMU super B-huts. After 7 months of cajoling the Afghan contractors, all three were finally complete just as I left FOB Clark. I even painted them blue to piss off the Army guys 🙂 Then shortly after I got back home, I get a call from my senior enlisted. “Sir, you might not be too happy about this, but did you hear about them buildings of yours…?” Have to admit, I was a bit pissed off… Glad no one was hurt.

    • Peter Molin Says:

      Great story Slonishku–thanks for sharing and for everything you did at Camp Clark. I thought that blue paint was some crazy Afghan thing, but if you want to claim credit, go for it! Did we overlap–I got there in November 2008?

      • Alex Harper Says:

        Possible overlap. My replacement was (if I remember correctly) named Debra… another Navy LCDR. If you remember it, I made the black and white “Navy Garrison” door sign and hung the Navy flag on some blue rebar on the Garrison office B-Hut, I also had that big gate pointing toward Parsa painted yellow and blue while I was building the conex guard towers. I changed the skyline there a little… Whoever got to enjoy the screened in porch on the front of the B-Hut nearest the door to the gym… that was me too.

      • Peter Molin Says:

        Thanks for sharing, Alex–to all the Navy Roughriders!!! It can’t have been easy, but you guys made the best of it, and made Camp Clark a better place.

  4. Steve Brown Says:

    I just stumbled across your story here. I was an Air Force staff sergeant station there, running the S-6 commo shop. This event here happened just days after I left. Glad nobody got hurt.

    On a separate note, was the AFN still working while you were out there? One of my projects in my spare time was to run cable to all the shops and kandaks so anyone could hook up to AFN. I started running it to the B-huts, but didn’t get to finish before I left.

    Anyways, thanks for posting this. Brings back some memories. There were a lot of good Soldiers and Sailors there.

    • Peter Molin Says:

      Staff Sergeant Brown, thanks for the memories and kind words! I can’t say I remember you and I don’t think the AFN project was ever completed, but I’m glad to hear from you and proud to have been on the same team as you. Yes to lots of good Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen, too, at Camp Clark.

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