US fends off suicide-bomber attack in Afghanistan

The Taliban launched an attack on an American base in Afghanistan in a strange twist on the notion of a suicide mission.  Instead of presenting an attack or ambush, they simply send waves of suicide bombers against a fortified military position, with utterly predictable results.  The Islamist extremists didn’t cause a single American casualty, while most of them died through suicide or in the exchange of gunfire:

Suicide bombers tried unsuccessfully to storm a U.S. military base near Afghanistan-Pakistan border in a daring attack on a major American installation, officials said Tuesday. Six insurgents detonated their vests after being surrounded.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomb outside the same base killed 10 civilians and wounded 13 others. The fighting was still going on early Tuesday, said U.S. coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry. There have been no American deaths, he said.

The militants failed to gain entry to Camp Salerno in Khost city after launching waves of attacks just before midnight on Monday, said Arsallah Jamal, the governor of Khost. The base is just a few miles from Pakistan’s border.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, said Afghan soldiers, aided by U.S. troops, chased and surrounded a group of insurgents, and that six militants blew themselves up when cornered. Seven other militants died in those explosions and a rolling gun battle, he said.

Obviously, suicide bombings aren’t exactly news in the war on terror, but this application is a little strange.  The Taliban has mostly fought the military using normal engagement tactics and ambushes, with occasional one-off suicide attacks on smaller outposts.  They usually save the suicide attacks for undefended civilian targets, not fortified military installations which constantly prepare for just this scenario.

The Taliban may have adapted its tactics to those of al-Qaeda, especially now that the AQ franchise in Iraq has died an embarrassing death.  If so, they learned the wrong lesson from AQI’s defeat.  Suicide attacks on military positions almost always fail to achieve their goals, and suicide attacks on civilians only turns the local populace against them.

It almost seems as though the death-cult of the radical extremists has become so bad that their own death is the primary and perhaps solitary point of their missions.

Does this attack indicate that the Taliban has had a banner recruitment year?  Or does it indicate a desperation to dislodge NATO that has gotten so bad that just the effort seems like success?