On October 3, 2009, I was welcoming my newborn son Jack into the world. I caught a news story out of the corner of my eye about an attack on a U.S. military outpost in Afghanistan, Compound Outpost Keating. A small group of 53 American troops stationed at the remote outpost fought off about 400 Taliban insurgents during an intense battle that went on for hours.
As I held my son, I heard of 8 other sons who were taken from the world in the attack. I set out to answer why our troops were stationed at the vulnerable outpost in the first place, and it began a two and a half year long project that resulted in a book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.”
COP Keating was situated beside a river at the bottom of 3 towering mountains near the Pakistani border– an almost indefensible location.
“The joke everyone would say was if they could ever mass against us we would just be sitting ducks down there,” says Sergeant Zachary Koppes, who was stationed at COP Keating during the attack.
“We all knew we were always an inch away from losing life,” recalls Major Matthew Gooding, the commander of Able Troop, 3-71 Cav, the first long-term commander at the outpost. “We knew what we were up against and all the other soldiers that served there after us.”
This week’s episode of Political Punch is dedicated to the soldiers who fought so bravely that day, and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. This is their story, told in their words.
- Jake Tapper