Charles "Chip" Preysler, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, said Saturday from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
spoke via telephone less than a week after his
paratroops and their Afghan allies were involved in a fierce attack at a small post near the village of Wanat.
In the July 13 battle, nine of his
men were killed and 15 others wounded.
But the attack is not a sign of conditions worsening in the country, he
The battle occurred just after dawn at a temporary vehicle patrol base near Wanat.
A platoon-sized element of Chosen Company
, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) soldiers and a smaller Afghan National Army force were occupying a hastily built area as they had done many times over the 15 months they'd been in country, Preysler
The soldiers were there on a reconnaissance mission to establish a presence and find a good location to connect with the local government, populace and Afghan National Police, he
The small outpost had been built just days before the attack and consisted of protective wire and observation posts surrounding strategically placed vehicles.
"That's all it was, a series of vehicles that went out there," Preysler
"People are saying that this was a full-up [forward operating base]/combat outpost, and that is absolutely false and not true.
There were no walls," Preysler
said, latter adding, "FOB denotes that there are walls and perimeters and all that.
It's a vehicle patrol base, temporary in nature."
But that doesn't mean the soldiers were not prepared to take on the enemy, he
The Army did not "abandon" the base after the attack, as many media reporters have suggested, Preysler
said the decision to move from the location following the attack was to reposition, which his
men have done countless times throughout their tour, and to move closer to the local seat of government.
"If there's no combat outpost to abandon, there's no position to abandon," he
staff have seen several reports on the fight and numbers of enemy, he
said true specifics still remain unclear.
"I do not know the exact numbers.
But I know they had much greater strength than one U.S. platoon," he
"I believe the enemy to number over 100 in that area when he
I don't know the casualties that he
took, but I know that it's got to be substantial based on the different reports I'm getting.
We may not know the true damage we inflicted on the enemy, but we certainly defeated his
attack and repulsed his
attack and he
never got into our position."
staff also object to media reports that because of the size of the attack, it could be a harbinger of change in the way militants fight in eastern Afghanistan.
"I think people are taking license and just misusing statistics, and I refuse to do that," he
Further, the information we learn from Colonel Preysler leads to the notion that there was less force protection than even a combat outpost.
points to the "temporary" nature of the outpost, but this is not meaningful given that no FOB or COP is permanent.
This might be fruitful terrain for more investigation to learn the lessons of the battle.
Colonel Preysler is understandably jealous for the preservation of the bravery of his troops.