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Archive for Sunday, August 7, 2011

U.S. helicopter shot down, killing 30 troops

August 7, 2011

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— Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite Navy SEALs unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as seven Afghan commandos, U.S. officials said Saturday. It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war.

The downing was a stinging blow to the lauded, tight-knit SEAL Team 6, months after its crowning achievement. It was also a heavy setback for the U.S.-led coalition as it begins to draw down thousands of combat troops fighting what has become an increasingly costly and unpopular war.

None of the 22 SEAL personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that killed bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan, but they belonged to the same unit. Their deployment in the raid in which the helicopter crashed would suggest that the target was a high-ranking insurgent figure.

Special operations forces, including the SEALs and others, have been at the forefront in the stepped up strategy of taking out key insurgent leaders in targeted raids, and they will be relied on even more as regular troops pull out.

The strike is also likely to boost the morale of the Taliban in a key province that controls a strategic approach to the capital Kabul. The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with a rocket while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak overnight. Wreckage of the craft was strewn across the crash site, a Taliban spokesman said.

A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said it appeared the craft had been shot down. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.

“Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan,” President Barack Obama said in a statement, adding that his thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who perished.

The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement that 30 American service members, a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan commandos were killed when their CH-47 Chinook crashed in the early hours Saturday. A current U.S. official and a former U.S. official said the Americans included 22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers and a dog handler and his dog. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because military officials were still notifying the families of the dead.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the number of people killed in the crash and the presence of special operations troops before any other public figure. He also offered his condolences to the American and Afghan troops killed in the crash.

The deaths bring to 365 the number of coalition troops killed this year in Afghanistan and 42 this month.

The overnight raid took place in the Tangi Joy Zarin area of Wardak’s Sayd Abad district, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul. Forested peaks in the region give the insurgency good cover and the Taliban have continued to use it as a base despite repeated NATO assaults.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that the helicopter was involved in an assault on a house where insurgent fighters were gathering. During the battle, the fighters shot down the helicopter with a rocket, he said.

An American official in Brussels said the helicopter was a twin-rotor Chinook, a large troop and cargo transporter.

The casualties are believed to be largest loss of life in the history of SEAL Team Six, officially called the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. The team is considered the best of the best among the already elite SEALs, which numbers 3,000 personnel.

The death toll surpasses the previous worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001 — the June 28, 2005 downing of a military helicopter in eastern Kunar province.

Comments

poolside 3 years, 2 months ago

Here Here! These men and there families did not need to sacrifice themselves.
But the fact is they did and I honor them.

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Liberty275 3 years, 2 months ago

Nothing less than heroes, willing to die at any moment for their country.

Bring them all home. We don't have any business left over their that can't be handled with an air strike launched out of Guam or Saudi Arabia.

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 2 months ago

Something that's occurred to me many times is that the U.S. government should give $10 million dollars or more as a gift to Israel for every American fatality in the wars in Afganistan and Iraq. And, a somewhat smaller amount for every American injury.

And then, after a tragedy like this, it would be widely announced all over the country whereever it had occurred that the Taliban (or whoever) had just now earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Israel to use however it wanted. And make very sure that everyone in that country knew all about it.

The Taliban had just now given Israel a fantastic gift! No strings attatched!

A sum of money that they could not even imagine! You know how they would feel about that,,,

That would make them think twice!

Of course it sounds rather different and maybe quite strange, but it just might be very cost effective.

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jhawkinsf 3 years, 2 months ago

No offense, but that has to be just about the most absurd proposal I've ever seen you make. Usually, your comments are well thought out. Not this one.

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 2 months ago

I did say it was "rather different and maybe quite strange".

I wish there was some way to stop the carnage with an at least somewhat graceful exit, and I do wonder what would have happened if we had simply put up a guard against infiltration by terrorists instead of trying to invade an entire country that never liked foreign invaders, ever, and had a wonderful track record of making their lives very miserable.

And invading Iraq was quite obviously a terrific mistake, for sure, compounded by many mistakes after an initial success that was actually welcomed by many Iraq citizens, at first. But quickly, many changed their minds about all this,,,

And just think, a good percentage of the national debt is due to only those two wars! Exactly what will we ever get out of it? About nothing, is my opinion. Our status in the Arab world is now at an all time low.

I think a lot about Asif, a student at KU years ago that was from Afganistan, and wonder where he is now, and what he thinks today.

I knew him in 1980. He talked about his home, Afganistan, fondly, and the way he told it, foreign tourists were always very welcome there. And it sure did sound like a great place to visit! I couldn't wait to go!

One thing that Asif told me really stuck in my mind. He had won both a scholarship to KU, and a scholarship to the University of Moscow. But he didn't want to go to the University of Moscow, because he knew many men who had gone there, and he was emphatic that they were so very different when they came back. They had really changed while they were in Russia!

"They think the state is everything when they come back! Everything!" was what he said.

And, sometimes I think about the former Prime Minister of Afganistan that had managed to get out just ahead of the Soviet Invasion in 1979, and luckily, his whole family got out also. He gave a talk here at KU in the early 80s, and I'm sure that if I add any detailed description of what all he said I'd go way over the 3,000 character limit in here.

I'll say this much and stop: My friend that had told me we should go and myself were the only people there that were not Arabs!

Every single one of the Arab students sure was very polite to the only TWO people from America that cared about Afganistan enough to attend the former Prime Minister of Afganistan's talk at KU!

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Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 2 months ago

Oh yes, in case you're wondering, I did shake the former Prime Minister of Afganistan's hand, and he sure did give me and my friend a great big smile!

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