But build it we did and the enemy did come.
As many individuals who served in the American military believed, building an outpost at the bottom of a valley in Afghanistan was an absurd and terrible idea. Even when respectful apprehension at the plan was met with agreement, the commands from higher pay grades and ranks superseded all forms of reconsideration. Jake Tapper’s book The Outpost opens with the lunacy of building an outpost in a valley and not atop a mountain when he relates a conversation between “a young intelligence analyst named Jacob Whittaker” and his “superior officer, Second Lieutenant Ryan Lockner” in the “summer of 2006” (3). Lockner gave Whittaker an assignment to create a visual aid for a morning presentation detailing the location of a new outpost. After verifying that he had the correct information for its exact location, Whittaker confirmed that he could make the requested Power Point, “But sir…that is a really awful place for a base…it’s located at the base of a mountain peak…and flanked by a river on the west and another river to the north?”
Lockner added, “And there’s no good road to get to it — they’re still building that…”
To which Whittaker responded, “And it’s an eternity away by helicopter if something goes wrong..Sir, this is a really bad idea…A. Really. Bad. Idea. Anyone we drop off there is going to die.”
Jake Tapper’s summary of the exchange between Whittaker and Lockner includes more information on the topography on the area that Camp Kamdesh (eventually renamed Camp Outpost Keating) would be built no matter how tactically nonsensical. Orders were orders after all.
I finished reading Jake Tapper’s book recently and loved it. I experienced a substantial pang of sadness and “what the hell?!” afterwards because of current events. So many lives lost, so many dollars poured into plans, projects, and good intentions that evaporated just like that.
I had wanted to write a blog entry about it after I’d rewatched the The Outpost (Rod Lurie, 2019) and re-read some of the passages in Clinton Romesha‘s account of being at Camp Outpost Keating when it was breached by the enemy….but, I didn’t feel like waiting any more.
If you’ve not seen the film nor read either of the books but would like to plunge into the triumvirate of texts, I recommend you watch the movie first, then read Red Platoon, and then read The Outpost. Most of the book consists of establishing geo-political and historical contexts that preceded, facilitated, exacerbated what happened at COP Keating. If you have seen the movie and read Clinton Romesha’s book (or have consumed just one of them) and you want a more compare-and-contrast reading experience of Jake Tapper’s book, then I suggest you read the final section, Book Three entitled “Enemy in the Wire: The End of Combat Outpost Keating”).
I do want to re-watch the movie soon and organize my notes and thoughts for a blog post.
And, the Atlanta Falcons were in merry ole London over the weekend for gridiron action against the New York Jets. The Falcons moistened the Jets’ towelettes 27 to 20. Final score. Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.