This is a touchy subject because it goes directly to the actions -- or lack thereof -- of senior officers. At the same time, if the lesson learned here is that more backup was required, that's easily remedied in future situations, if people speak up, so it is especially worth examination. This issue breaks down into four key questions: Were there enough troops for the task at hand? Did they have what they needed? Was there sufficient aviation support? And was there adequate command attention?
Inside an Afghan battle gone wrong (III): Did the troops have what they needed?
It is striking that the Taliban fighters seemed to know exactly what was going on when they attacked the American outpost in Wanat, in eastern Afghanistan last summer, in a fight that the Army's chain of command doesn't seem to want to talk about, but which some of those with knowledge of the incident have encouraged me to look into.
The enemy had a battle plan ready before the Americans came on the scene. According to the military's internal investigation that I reviewed, the company commander was asked at dinner the night before the attack if there were UAVs operating in the area -- an interesting question to hear from an Afghan local.
As the Taliban began the attack, they turned on an irrigation ditch, so the sound of rushing water would cover the noise of their footsteps and whispers. Their attack was well-coordinated, "a lot of fire all at one time," according to the company commander's statement. They got close enough to locate in the dark Claymore mines meant to defend the American position, and gutsy enough to turn around the mines.