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Air elements at FOB Salerno, 5 Oct. 2004.

FOB Salerno is a forward operating base of the U.S. military in the southeastern province of Khost, Afghanistan, near the city of Khost. It has been nicknamed "Rocket City" due to the large amounts of incoming rocket and mortar fire in previous years.[1] The facility was built by TF Panther in 2002, centered around the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was named for the beachhead in Salerno that the 505th PIR parachuted onto on 14 September 1943 (Operation Avalanche).

19 August 2008 attack

On 19 August 2008[2] insurgents attempted to assault FOB Salerno with a double car bomb. The bombs detonated close to the base perimeter and killed 15 Afghans. Around midnight the next day the base came under mortar fire and was attacked by about 30 Taliban insurgents. The attackers attempted to breach the base near the airfield, where there is no HESCO bastion. The attackers were also accompanied by suicide bombers, three of which detonated their vest early as they came under machine gun fire from the base. Afghan commandos are credited with surrounding the other suicide bombers before they had a chance to attack. Another group of Taliban was observed preparing for an attack 1000 meters from the base before coalition forces opened up small arms fire. Helicopter gunships later pounded the Taliban staging area, resulting in 3 deaths. After the attack the insurgents were found in possession of anti-personnel Type 69 RPG's. As anti-personnel RPG's are rare in Afghanistan it is unclear how the weapons were obtained.

Continued volatility

On 2 July 2009 a US soldier went missing from nearby Camp Clark. The soldier was later seized by the Taliban. Taliban commander Mullah Sangreen Zadran claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. This is the only known US soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

FOB Salerno continued to receive a large amount or mortar and rocket fire through the summer of 2009. A rocket hit a large tent inside the base. Fortunately the tent was unoccupied at the time.

In November 2009, a portion of FOB Salerno, where US Special Forces worked and lived with an Afghan Commando unit, was renamed as Camp Pucino after this US Special Forces soldier's death in November 2009. SSG Matthew Pucino was a member of ODA 2223.

On 30 December 2009 FOB Chapman, another nearby installation was attacked by a suicide bomber. The attacker managed to sneak by security as he was allowed into the base and detonated himself. Seven CIA operatives were killed, making this attack the deadliest for the agency since the 1983 United States embassy bombing.

FOB Salerno was once again attacked by a group of Taliban on 28 August 2010.[3] The attack started around 0400 with small arms and mortar fire. In addition, suicide bombers participated in the attack. As the attack commenced, some of the insurgents were able to penetrate inside the base and attempted to detonate themselves, but were stopped by coalition forces. Afghan forces also detained five insurgents and destroyed a recoil-less rifle at the scene. After the failed assault, NATO forces conducted an airstrike on a truck occupied by three Haqqani Network fighters in the area.

There was a complex attack against the FOB in early June 2012. Insurgents utilized a local truck packed with 1,500-2,000 pounds of explosives; a suicide bomber detonated his truck bomb on the southern edge of the base, breaching the perimeter and causing significant damage to the base's buildings. ABC News reported that the dining hall was levelled in the blast. Moments later, ten insurgents entered the breach armed with rifles, machine guns, grenades, and rockets; each bomber wore various military camouflage uniforms and wore explosive suicide vests. After an hour-long firefight, US service members repelled the attack, killing all ten insurgents. Two base contractors were killed in the attack, and a US Soldier died of his wounds days later. Although initially downplayed in the media, in July 2012 both Long War Journal and al Jazeera published an unedited attack video released by the Taliban.[4] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that an airplane on an airstrip at the base was destroyed and that 'tens' of foreign forces were killed and wounded in the attack.[5]


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