Written by Capt. Jerry Garner
Task Force Hannibal, Task Force Lifeliner
Kunduz, Afghanistan – As coalition forces work feverishly to prepare for the 2014 withdrawal, soldiers from the 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion made one last retrograde run to Kunduz. This was to be the cumulative event moving hundreds of trucks full of military equipment, fuel and supplies in and out of the North in a massive effort to close this key military base.
Reminiscent of the initial days of the Kunduz Operating Base, all the chow halls, tents and unit headquarters were nowhere to be seen. Soldiers spent their last night asleep on the ground strategically circled around their trucks in an attempt to get enough rest for long-haul back to Camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif.Kunduz province is located in Northern Afghanistan under the command of the German military and Regional Command-North. The population of the Konduz district is roughly 775,000 with almost three-fourths of its citizens living in rural, outlying communities.
After September 11th, 2001, U.S. Special Forces began to work with the Northern Alliance to force the Taliban out of Northern Afghanistan. Kunduz was the last stand for the Taliban in the North and the fight became known as the “Siege of Kunduz.”
Mohammed Daud Daud led the Northern Alliance from Mazar-i-Sharif (current day Regional Command Headquarters) through Taloqan and up to Kunduz. Upon arrival, the Northern Alliance found themselves in a heavy firefight. Daud decided to surround the city and allow American air support to bomb the Taliban in an attempt to weaken their positions.
After 11 days of bombing, U.S. forces had destroyed 44 bunkers and 12 tanks. Prior to September 11th, 2001, Pakistan had hundreds of advisers and fighters in Afghanistan, to assist in the fight against the Northern Alliance.
Pakistan used this time to evacuate several thousand fighters, later coined the “airlift of evil.” With the dissipated support of the foreign fighters and their deteriorated position, the Taliban surrendered Kunduz November 23rd, 2001.
After the fall of Kunduz, northern Afghanistan was regarded as one of the safest areas in Afghanistan. Under the control of Regional Command-North, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops rarely encountered the Taliban. This earned Kunduz the German nickname, “Bad Kunduz” or “Kunduz spa.”
This all changed in 2009. Between April and June of that year, there were more firefights than the previous seven years combined. By early 2010 U.S. forces began to flood into the Kunduz area.
The U.S. and Germany increased troop levels to 6,000 in an effort to provide security in the Kunduz area. In January of 2010, Operation Wolf Pack commenced with the goal of establishing outposts in the troublesome district.
Nearly 20,000 German troops cycled through the Kunduz base. Of Germany’s 35 combat related deaths, 20 were a result of enemy activity in and around Kunduz. The transfer ceremony was attended by the German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
He remarked, “Nowhere else since WWII have more German soldiers died in combat… [We] built, fought, cried and consoled, killed and fell here.”
Soldiers of the 1230th Transportation Company, a Georgia National Guard unit, and soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 524th CSSBSchofield Barracks, Hawaii, were able to experience the full circle of a military operation.
These soldiers were a part of a historic moment; as they loaded up the last container to be hauled out, it represented the end of an era in Afghanistan, and new beginning for the ANSF and people of Afghanistan.
- “Siege of Kunduz.” Freebase, June 19th, 2009. http://www.freebase.com
- Moran, Michael. “The ‘airlift of evil’, November 29th, 2001. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3340165/ns/world_news-brave_new_world/t/airlift-evil/
- Associated Press “Germany hands over military base to Afghans.” Las Vegas Sun, October 6th, 2013. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/oct/06/eu-germany-afghanistan/