Troops Push Toward Afghan Crash Site Of U.S. Helo

Night StalkerNight Stalker Member Posts: 11,967
edited June 2005 in General Discussion
Washington Post
June 30, 2005
Pg. 20

Troops Push Toward Afghan Crash Site Of U.S. Helicopter

Rescue Teams Impeded by Insurgent Gunfire, Stormy Weather

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Foreign Service

MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan, June 29 -- American troops were still fighting their way toward the crash site of a U.S. military helicopter Wednesday evening, more than 24 hours after the aircraft was shot down in eastern Afghanistan with 17 troops aboard, U.S. military officials said.

The fate of the crew and passengers remained unknown, while persistent efforts by U.S. ground troops, supported by bombardment from attack aircraft, to reach the site were thwarted by gunfire, stormy weather and the heavily forested, hilly terrain of Konar province, near the Pakistani border.

"We do hope and pray that everyone is safe," said Col. James Yonts, a U.S. military spokesman, speaking by telephone from Kabul, the capital. But military officials in Washington said no signs of life had been detected as rescue teams struggled to reach the craft.

The downed helicopter, a Special Operations variant of the CH-47 Chinook, was carrying a team of Navy SEALs to be implanted in the combat zone, according to a senior defense official in Washington.

Troops on a second helicopter nearby reported Tuesday that the craft was likely brought down by ground fire. Other military officials said it might have been downed by a grenade or crashed while evading fire as it approached a landing zone. It went down in a rugged area about 10,000 feet in elevation, officials said.

Further hampering the rescue effort was the loss of a Predator drone that had provided imagery of the crash area Wednesday, according to the senior official. That aircraft might also have been shot down, the official said.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that the incident appeared "to be a shootdown of one of our Special Operations helicopters," probably by a rocket-propelled grenade. "Our hearts go out to their families," Pace said.

Yonts told the Associated Press that the helicopter was taking fire from the ground when it crashed. "It is a very strong and determined enemy," he said.

The incident followed a three-month escalation of armed clashes that have killed between 240 and 465 suspected anti-government fighters, 29 U.S. troops, 43 Afghan police officers and soldiers, and 125 civilians.

Taliban and al Qaeda forces were once believed to have been reduced to a marginal force in the country, and a peaceful presidential election was held in October. Since then, however, insurgents have stepped up attacks, apparently hoping to sabotage parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

U.S. officials said it was not clear if the insurgent forces in the crash were from the revived Taliban militia or included foreigners. A Taliban spokesman has asserted responsibility for the attack. Afghan officials have repeatedly complained of fighters slipping into the country from Pakistan.

U.S. military officials would not comment on the number of forces involved, but they said the helicopter was shuttling troops into the area as part of Operation Red Wing, a sweep aimed at capturing or killing al Qaeda militiamen.

Late Wednesday, Yonts said a "large, aggressive ground force" of American troops was moving toward the crash site in an effort to rescue any surviving troops. He said U.S. forces had been able to see but not approach the downed helicopter.

"I don't want you to think they are just out there all by themselves," he said. "We are fighting our way to that helicopter." He added that there was also "active air cover" in the area but that the high elevation and a storm had impeded the rescue mission.

Yonts said the Chinook had taken small-arms fire but that it remained unclear what caused the crash. "It could have been anything from hostile fire to they were maneuvering from hostile fire and struck a tree," he said.

The governor of Konar, Asadullah Wafa, said the area has been a haven for al Qaeda members. Fighters linked to the Taliban, as well as loyalists of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former minister who is now a fugitive opponent of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, are also reportedly operating in the territory.

Wafa said fighters rarely stayed overnight in the harsh terrain where the fighting took place. "They come in to attack, and then they rush back into Pakistan," he said. In recent weeks, he added, militia attacks have killed as many as 15 people.

The U.S. operation in Konar is part of a larger spring campaign by U.S. and Afghan forces to flush out fighters from hideouts in the east and south of Afghanistan. Despite heavy losses, the militiamen have shown themselves to be hardy, well-equipped fighters who can wage battles for hours. There are about 18,000 U.S. troops in the country.

Staff writer Bradley Graham in Washington contributed to this report.



"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." -- John Stewart Mill


  • dwhitwo254dwhitwo254 Member Posts: 174 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    They aren't giving much info out on the rescue success. From reading other places, my thoughts are that they are afraid that the Taliban has taken some prisoners.

  • BOBBYWINSBOBBYWINS Member Posts: 7,810
    edited November -1
    Just read in the local paper that they have reached the crash sight.
    Un-confirmed reports of recovering 13 bodies.No info on the rest.


  • Jimmy BossJimmy Boss Member Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Noboby left behind!

    JBoss......Fear No Fish/peace through superior firepower/If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier!!!!!!!!!A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.
    --- Sigmond Freud
  • ElMuertoMonkeyElMuertoMonkey Member Posts: 12,898
    edited November -1
    It would be a little unrealistic to pray for their safe return. In sad instances like this, we can only hope that their bodies are recovered so that they may be laid to rest with some dignity.

    Killing every last one of those Taliban f**kers might help some, too.
  • MN HunterMN Hunter Member Posts: 2,299
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by ElMuertoMonkey
    It would be a little unrealistic to pray for their safe return. In sad instances like this, we can only hope that their bodies are recovered so that they may be laid to rest with some dignity.

    Killing every last one of those Taliban f**kers might help some, too.

    couldnt have said it better myself.....


    "Not many like us, in fact very few, and most of them are dead" LtCol Pratt - USMC
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