Custom Search

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Navy SEALs Crash Huge Blow To U.S. Forces; Win For Taliban! NATO Recovers Wreckage (Conspiracy?)

NATO Crash: Communities Mourn Loss of Troops Killed in Afghanistan

American communities are mourning the loss of 30 U.S. troops who were killed when Afghan insurgents shot down a helicopter carrying the most elite forces in the US military -- Navy SEALs along with Air Force and Army personnel, U.S. officials said.

Saturday's crash occurred near a Taliban stronghold in Wardak province in Afghanistan.

On board the Chinook helicopter, there were 30 Americans -- including 22 SEALs, 8 Afghans and a dog trained specifically for special operations.

U.S. forces were engaged in a firefight on the ground and the helicopter was on its way to help, when it was shot down probably by a rocket propelled grenade.

Most of the 22 SEALS were part of SEAL Team 6, the heroic unit that carried out the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in May.

However none of those who actually took part in that raid were believed to be on the helicopter.

U.S. special operations teams carry out up to a dozen missions a day in Afghanistan.

But since 9/11 there have been 32 SEALS killed, but 22 in one day is devastating. There are just 300 men in SEAL Team six.

After the crash, the forces that were involved in the firefight "broke contact" with the enemy so they could go provide perimeter security for the crash site, the official said.

Additional forces were then sent to secure the crash site.

It's unclear how far away the helicopter was from the initial firefight when it went down and unclear how the troops in the firefight got to the crash location.

Although the Taliban have claimed to have shot the helicopter down, U.S. officials have only identified the attackers as insurgents.

On July 25, a Chinook was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by the Taliban. It launched in the belly of the aircraft which made a hard landing and only two soldiers were injured in that attack but this time all on board were killed.

The last worst one-day U.S. casuality record in Afghanistan was on June 28, 2005 when 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Kunar province after a helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents.

President Obama offered his thoughts and prayers to those killed in the crash.

"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," Obama said in a statement.

Town Remembers Loss

In the tight knit navy town of Virginia Beach, Va. the loss is felt by everyone.

"It's high risk, but you know it's the call of duty for your country," said Joseph Villasenor, a former army member.

It is a far cry from the jubilation that swept the community after Bin Laden was killed by their hometown heroes.

Even here, the identities of the Seal Team Six are kept secret but now their names will likely become public under the worst of circumstances.

"There's a lot of seals that come from here. It's weird to think that someone you see on the street could be gone right now," said resident Derek Carter.

Losing 22 men all at once comes as a sharp blow to families and friends of the navy SEALs, like Geneva Vaughn, the grandmother of Aaron Vaughn, one of the men killed in the crash.

"I'm very proud of him. He was such a good boy and he loved his country…and I talked to him on his birthday he said granny he said 'don't worry about me I'm not afraid," she said.

Recovery effort under-way after NATO crash in eastern Afghanistan

NATO recovery teams combed through the wreckage of a downed CH-47 Chinook in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, the site of the worst single-day loss of American lives since the start of the Afghan war.

"They're just trying recover everything from the crash at this point," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Thirty U.S. service members died early Saturday when their helicopter crashed during an operation against Taliban insurgents, officials said.

Among the 25 U.S. special operations forces killed in Wardak province -- who died while reinforcing other troops in the area -- were 22 Navy SEALS, considered to be among America's most elite warriors.

The majority of the slain Navy SEALs belonged to the same covert unit that conducted the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden, though they were not the same men, a U.S. military official said.

In all, 38 people died in the crash, including one civilian translator and seven Afghan commandos, NATO reported.

The Taliban has taken responsibility for the attack, claiming to have downed the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Provincial council head Mohammad Hazrat Janan also said insurgents used a rocket-propelled grenade in the attack, though the actual type of weapon is still unclear.

While military officials in Afghanistan have not confirmed that an attack brought down the helicopter, they have acknowledged it was operating in an area rife with insurgent activity.

Afghan officials say the craft crashed in Wardak's Tangi Valley, a corridor located roughly 60 miles southwest of the Afghan capital and situated amid mountainous and rocky terrain.

Tangi village elders reported that insurgents shot at the craft when it was returning from an operation that left eight insurgents dead, according to Janan.

NATO declined to comment on the details of the operation or the circumstances of the crash.

The specifics of the incident were first made public by way of a written statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"It was amazing to me that the first details came from the presidential palace," said Baktash Siawash, a parliament member from Kabul. "At the same time, we didn't hear anything from NATO."

Siawash said Karzai's swift release of the crash details amounted to helping the Taliban quickly claim responsibility for the incident.

The Afghan president has come under increasingly criticism by anti-Taliban lawmakers over his willingness to negotiate with insurgent leadership, but has traditionally said that he is endeavoring to bring an end the near decade-long conflict.

A presidential spokesman dismissed Siawash's allegations as "nonsense," saying Karzai's initial statement on the crash was meant to express condolences over the loss of American life.

Meanwhile, Karzai called a security meeting of his top advisors Sunday to discuss the incident, according to a statement from his office.

He is scheduled to speak with U.S. President Barack Obama, the statement said. It is not clear when that conversation is scheduled to take place.

Reflecting on the sobering loss, President Obama said the deaths were "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."

Among those killed was Aaron Carson Vaughn, 30, his grandmother told CNN Saturday night. She called him a brave warrior and gentle man.

Geneva Carson Vaughn of Union City, Tennessee, said Aaron lived with his wife and two small children in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The SEAL told her in June not to worry about his well-being.

"He said 'I'm not afraid. Because I know where I am going if something happens to me.'," she said.

"He is with the Lord now," Vaughn added. "I will see him again someday."

The U.S. deaths come as NATO is drawing down and handing over security control to national forces. Some 10,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to depart by year's end, with the full draw-down expected to take place by the end of 2014.

Newly minted U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, pledged no permanent bases inside the war-torn country, but has suggested that American military commitments to Afghanistan could extend beyond the draw-down date.

The crash dealt a heavy blow to U.S. special forces, a select group that requires years of training and brings operational experience that's not easily replaced.

Their deaths have also raised concerns among Kabul lawmakers over the perceived strength of the insurgency.

"This shows the Taliban are now more mobilized than before," said Khalid Pashton, a parliament member from Kandahar province, the traditional heartland of the Taliban. "Now there is an organized play in Afghanistan that seems (to suggest) that U.S. forces will soon leave."

Meanwhile, officials are being especially tight-lipped because recovery operations -- which began immediately following the crash -- are still under way and body identifications and family notifications are just beginning, a U.S. military official said.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said ISAF "is still assessing the circumstances that resulted in these deaths."

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi said it's too early to say if the Taliban caused the crash. He called for an investigation.

"Information is still coming in about this incident. I think it's important that we allow investigators to do their work before jumping to too many conclusions," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It's also important that we respect the process of notifying family members, no matter how long that takes."

There are 150,000 ISAF forces in Afghanistan, including just under 100,000 from the United States -- the largest NATO presence in the region since the U.S.-led war began in 2001.

View Larger Map

Sources: ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: