The Air Force on Sept. 2 honored 39 security forces airmen with the Air Force Combat Action Medal for helping fight off a pre-dawn Taliban attack on three bases.
According to an Air Force release, the five-hour-plus battle began when Taliban-linked insurgents opened fire on the Afghan air force’s Kabul Air Wing, the U.S.-run Forward Operating Base Oqab, and a NATO base within the grounds of Kabul International Airport at about 4:15 a.m. on July 17.
The attackers began by firing more than a dozen rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles from a multistoried building about 350 meters from the bases’ perimeter.
The security forces who were already on duty and standing guard began identifying the attackers’ positions and fighting back from guard towers, the Air Force said. Others were woken by the explosions and gunshots, put protective gear on over their sleeping clothes, and joined the fight.
The airmen formed two quick reaction forces, and the Afghans made up a third, to push closer to the insurgents. In the end, the Afghan QRF cleared the building of attackers while the airmen provided suppressive fire. The Air Force said coalition and Afghan forces sustained no serious injuries, and the base facilities and grounds were moderately damaged.
Airmen fired more than 3,000 rounds during the siege with M4 carbines, M203 grenade launchers, and M240B medium machine guns.
Maj. Gen. John McMullen, the commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force for Afghanistan, commander of NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, and deputy commander of Air-U.S. forces in Afghanistan, presented the medals to the airmen at a ceremony at the FOB.