Worst US loss of life in Afghan war as helicopter crash kills 38

The Guardian reports:

The US suffered its worst single loss of life in the nearly 10-year Afghan war when a helicopter carrying 31 special forces soldiers crashed on Friday night in the east of the country.

Both the Taliban, via a spokesman reached by telephone, and Afghan officials in Wardak province, to the west of Kabul, said insurgents had shot down the Chinook helicoter with a rocket.

Nato would only confirm that “there was enemy activity in the area” and that the US-led alliance was still trying to work out what had happened. US air force captain Justin Brockhoff, a Nato spokesman, said: “We are in the process of accessing the facts.”

A western official said 37 people were on board, all of whom were killed. The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said the helicopter was carrying 31 US special forces and seven members of the Afghan national army.

It is very unusual for Nato deaths from a single incident to reach double figures. The previous most deadly day for foreign troops was in June 2005 when 16 US soldiers were killed when a Taliban rocket hit a Chinook in the eastern province of Kunar.

The crash happened at 3am when the helicopter was hovering over the town of Tangi Joi Zareen, in the district of Saidabad, according to a spokesman for the provincial governor.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said Nato attacked a house in the district where insurgent fighters were gathering. He said eight insurgents died in the fighting.

Special forces from many nations, including the UK, conduct up to half a dozen such operations every night, usually targeting mid-level insurgent commanders whose whereabouts are pinpointed by high-tech intelligence gathering teams.

The downing of a helicopter, quite apart from the massive loss of life, will alarm war planners who rely heavily on Nato’s air superiority in the fight against the Taliban. They will want to discover whether the aircraft was downed by a lucky shot from a rocket-propelled grenade, a highly inaccurate weapon, or by something more sophisticated.

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5 thoughts on “Worst US loss of life in Afghan war as helicopter crash kills 38

  1. esteban

    another regrettable
    and needless loss of life

    it reminds me of one reason
    for the soviets exit from afghanistan

    it’s not a question of if – but when
    we [usa] will follow suit

  2. dickerson3870

    RE: “…insurgents had shot down the Chinook helicoter with a rocket.”

    MY COMMENT: Isn’t this exactly what the CIA taught the Taliban to do back in the 1980s? Of course, they were Soviet helicopters back then.

  3. Ian Arbuckle

    What a coincidence : The Associated Press has learned that more than 20 Navy SEALs from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among those lost in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan….. According to Forbes.com

    What is it they say about coincidences :
    There are no coincidences, Delia. Only the illusion of coincidence. I have another rose, and this one is for you.

    Can you believe anything? Anything but the worst? Ninjas were good at vanishing too I hear. “Death is the solution to all problems,” – Alexei Volkoff, from the TV series Chuck. That wisdom may not be lost on the planners of these apparent misadventures, but perhaps like Stalin they are not considering their own death but someone else’s. It is quoted in “Young Stalin” that as a teenager, Stalin after reading The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was supposed to have said, “Death solves all problems — no man, no problem” or was it at the hight of the purges, I forget.

  4. Colm O' Toole

    Ah well… a Navy Seal assassination squad got killed. Live by the sword you die by the sword.

    About as tragic as the loss of a mafia figure or a drug cartel member.

  5. BillVZ

    I was amazed that of all the postings for august 6 there was no reference made to the anniversary of August 6 1945 when Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m was in an instant decimated along with tens of thousands of its inhabitants.
    Perhaps the remembrance of the day is no longer news worthy or of importance to the present generation. As a young boy of 10 years I remember the historical happening well. As years went by I could never really understand the reasons given and have spend a lot of research seeking some satisfactory answers. At one time I routinely made mention of the adversary each year by way of opinion letter to the local English ‘Post Bag”;which in turn initiated replies of how this horrific event saved ‘our boys lives ‘ by bring an end to the war.There is no point in further discussion on that point-it was what it was. However the US days of infamy 6 and 9 August 1945 ought to be remembered just as much as December 7,1941.
    For a host of administrative and military reasons the consequences to the Japanese people of Hiroshima as recorded on film were withheld for 25 years. I found Greg Mitchell’s article that introduces and draws on his new book Atomic Cover-up- Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. A fitting read for this date in time at
    http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m80252&hd=&size=1&l=e- perhaps some will also find it so.

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