38 US, Afghan forces killed in helo crash


Chinook-FOB-Joyce.jpg

A US Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division prepares to land inside the landing zone at Forward Operation Base Joyce, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 17, 2009. Image from US Army/DVIDS.

Coalition forces suffered the largest loss of life in a single incident since US forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 when a transport helicopter crashed during a raid in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 US and seven Afghan special operations forces. The Taliban and an Afghan official claimed the Chinook was shot down, but ISAF would not confirm the reports.

The helicopter crashed today while conducting a raid in the Tangi Valley in the Saydabad district, a known haven for the Taliban in Wardak province. Thirty US troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, an interpreter, and seven Afghan special operations soldiers were killed, according to the Navy Times. The Associated Press reported that more than 20 members from Naval Special Warfare Development Group, more commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6, the unit that carried out the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, were killed. There is no indication that the SEALs killed today were involved in the bin Laden raid.

A spokesman for the Wardak provincial government said that the Chinook was hit as it took off after an operation. A villager in Saydabad also told AFP that the helicopter was shot down. ISAF later stated the helicopter was shot down as it was landing.

In a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban claimed the helicopter was shot down "with rockets during the fighting." The Taliban also said that eight of their own fighters were killed during a clash in the area.

The International Security Assistance Force did confirm the helicopter crashed and said "recovery operations are underway," according to a press release issued today.

"ISAF is still in the process of assessing the circumstances to determine the facts of the incident," the Coalition command stated. "Reporting indicates there was enemy activity in the area."

ISAF later confirmed that 30 Coalition troops, a civilian interpreter, and seven Afghan commandos were killed. "All of the ISAF service members on board were from the US,"

Wardak and the neighboring province of Logar are contested by the Taliban. The two provinces are just outside of Kabul, and are used by a host of Taliban and allied groups, including the Haqqani Network and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, to stage attacks into the national capital. These groups, along with al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, pool their resources and fight as part of what ISAF calls the Kabul Attack Network.

If today's crash is confirmed to be a Taliban shoot down, it would be the second such incident in two weeks. On July 25, the Taliban shot down a Chinook with rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, just one hundred yards outside of an Afghan Army base in the Pech Valley in Kunar province. No ISAF and Afghan troops were killed in the crash, however.

The Taliban's most successful operation involving a downed ISAF helicopter took place in 2005, when the Bara bin Malek Front, a Taliban subgroup operating in Kunar, shot down a US special operations Chinook helicopter. The US team was attempting to recover a four-man team of Navy SEALs who disappeared during Operation Redwing. Three of the missing SEAL team died in an ambush and another 16 US personnel, eight SEALs and eight members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, were killed when insurgents shot the helicopter down with a salvo of rocket-propelled grenades. The sole surviving member of the ill-fated team sought refuge from local villagers who nursed him back to health and helped coordinate a successful US rescue mission several days later.



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READER COMMENTS: "38 US, Afghan forces killed in helo crash"

Posted by Charu at August 6, 2011 11:38 AM ET:

RIP Seal team 6, we salute your bravery and dedication. This is very sad and disturbing news. The Taliban appear to have picked up new skills for downing helicopters. Wouldn't put it past the PakMil to have trained them and/or armed them to pull this off as revenge for the Abbottabad raid. If ever proven, it will be a declaration of war!

Posted by KaneKaizer at August 6, 2011 12:29 PM ET:

Bill... if this really was Seal Team Six that was targeted, I really don't see how the ISI couldn't have had a hand in this. It looks exactly like the ISI taking revenge for the killing of OBL, the only thing missing being them actually taking credit for it. I have no way of knowing anything of course, but the odds are hugely against it being a simple lucky shot.

Posted by Proud Supporter at August 6, 2011 12:31 PM ET:

I salute these men even though I am not of their country;

Their sacrifice was huge, their determination and perseverance such that they even left their homes to go half way around the world to help the Afghan people rid themselves of oppressive Taliban rule.

If you're American or Afghan, the last thing you should do is mourn these men endlessly; They left behind a legacy and hopefully all who visit this site will take inspiration from their example.

Terrorists leave only misery when they die; These soldiers will leave behind the gifts of hope and courage, the pillars of freedom.

Salute Noble Sirs, from we who have stayed behind.

Posted by Eddie D. at August 6, 2011 12:39 PM ET:

Terrible news to read about.Thank you all men. The Taliban will suffer even greater losses as other soldiers will take your places and duties, they will anilehate them. Thanks for all your sacrificies, and you will be remembered always.

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at August 6, 2011 12:46 PM ET:

Shocked and saddened by this. HOW could they have known? Why wasn't the area cleared? Was this an unlucky shot or is there much more to this? I can't believe they could have known. The Chinooks are really vulnerable, especially taking off and landing. My heart is feeling broken. SEAL Team 6, the guys who killed OBL, gone. Horrible stroke of luck, it has to be.

Posted by Clarence Darby the Villain at August 6, 2011 1:01 PM ET:

"Horrible stroke of luck..."

No. Unfortunately, this was a well-planned attack.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-afghan-chopper-20110807,0,7157351.story

Today is a very sad day for NSW DEVGRU, ANA SOF, and Army pilots.

Posted by David Rodden at August 6, 2011 1:03 PM ET:

RIP My Brothers...May Your Families Know The Love and Comfort Of Their Messiah...

Posted by KaneKaizer at August 6, 2011 1:18 PM ET:

Infidel,

According to the Pentagon, none of the SEAL Team Six members who were involved with the Abbottabad raid were killed in this attack. Still, these guys gave the Taliban nightmares for a really long time.

Posted by Killshot at August 6, 2011 1:45 PM ET:

Someone(s)'s head should roll for this or career end. Logistically, there is no way you put 25 SEALs in a Chinook in that province for this very reason. Secondly, someone got sucked in, and they were prepared and waiting. $50M worth of our trained best gone to raid a boogerhead meeting? Good grief. This was a very poor start for Gen Mattis who is ultimately responsible.

Posted by doug at August 6, 2011 2:23 PM ET:

The next time we "raid" one of these compounds we should prep the area with 2 or 3 2,000 pound JDAMs.

I can understand why we would send SEALs on the UBL raid, which was deep inside Pakistan and in a neighborhood with a lot of civilians, but I just don't see any way to justify the risk of that many people in the Afghan hills. The other major loss of life with the SEALs also came in similar circumstances.

JDAMs are very accurate and relatively cheap.

Posted by JRP at August 6, 2011 2:29 PM ET:

Helicopters are extremely vulnerable aircraft. Basically, they are nothing more than flying rocks. No glide ability once something goes wrong. This was no lucky shot; nor was it intrigue. It's simply that helos are very easy to shoot down. It is amazing that we have not lost more.

The Defense Department has to start looking into the defense mechanisms the Israeli military has been developing and installing on their ground vehicles. These mechanisms detect and cause pre-ignition of weaponry already in flight and on target.

Posted by Ranger at August 6, 2011 2:30 PM ET:

Clarence,

That article says that the Taliban were tipped off. So well planned "ambush." splitting hairs?

I wonder how the Taliban were tipped off to a DEVGRU raid....some other suspicious minded individuals have already stated one possibility...

Posted by Eric at August 6, 2011 2:31 PM ET:

After 10 years, I think it is time for a major change in strategy. We can't take anymore losses like these. It just isn't worth it.


The Pashtuns (the ethnic group that most Talib are from) clearly do not want us there. They don't want our help to try to build a modern country. Well, let's just withdraw all our forces and go where we are more welcomed. We should go to Northern Afghanistan and help the minorities - like the Hazaras and Tajiks who fought against the brutal rule of the Taliban for years.


We can't help those who don't want to be helped. FOrget the Pasthun tribes and concentrate on the ethnic minorities.

Posted by Cda at August 6, 2011 2:40 PM ET:

Seems odd that they spend 2 hours on the ground and are surprised when a bad guy with an rpg is waiting for them to take off. Reminiscent of the 2005 "Lone Survivor" loss to an rpg, when the reaction force came into the same steep valley that was used to land Lutrell's team. Who does the mission planning for the Seals?

Posted by Bravo Whiskey at August 6, 2011 3:14 PM ET:

Certainly bad news and symbolic because of the loss of the operators from 6 and their association with the 'teeth, hair and eyeballs' that became OBL. Fishy that the news hit the wire THIS fast about the makeup of the occupants of the helo. That just fuels the fire of the insurgents even more knowing it has a connection to OBL. Things like this are going to continue forever. The war on terror will be here through our generation. Semper Fi my professional brothers. God speed.

Posted by wodun at August 6, 2011 3:22 PM ET:

A night time strike with an RPG. Someone please educate me on how effective rpg's are at night.

Posted by Charley at August 6, 2011 3:56 PM ET:

Were the Stingers missiles left with the ISI fully accounted for when we left after the Soviet war? There was that suspicious ammo depot fire outside Islamabad in 1988, that ISI presumably used to hide arms diversions. Could it be that those Stingers are being used against us now?

Posted by Clarence Darby the Villain at August 6, 2011 4:18 PM ET:

Ranger,

I believe we have engaged in semantics; ambush or attack, the Taliban exemplified a goal of inflicting death.

Posted by Killshot at August 6, 2011 4:39 PM ET:

RPG at night = major intel leak, likely ISI embedded somewhere in the chain of command. Gen Mattis, please wake up!

Posted by Alex at August 6, 2011 4:46 PM ET:

First of all why was an entire DEVGRU platoon conducting a generic nightraid against Taliban/Haqqani foot soldiers??? The risk vs. reward just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. These guys are our BEST trained assets in the military so why would they be exposed to such a "low-yield" operation where there was no HVT present? Or perhaps there was much more to this operation than we're currently being told. Bottomline, it's mind boggling that a special missions unit such as DEVGRU would be doing run-of-the-mill raids that are normally carried out "green" Special Operations forces. i.e. Rangers, Green Berets, and "standard" SEALs.

Posted by TEM at August 6, 2011 4:46 PM ET:

This is a real blow to Devgru (formerly seal team 6), like Delta these warriors can't be massed produced.

All enemies of the USA expect an attack by helicopter and this loss is inexcusable,a direct cause of generals not listening to the men on the ground. Then again, I am assuming the bird was downed by RPG fire.


A very bad deal, RIP to all the lost warriors.

Posted by blert at August 6, 2011 5:35 PM ET:

The street talk is that they'd completed their mission -- and were returning to base.

So it would not have been difficult for the opfor to realize that the helo was loaded with commandos -- who'd have to return to base.

We made a grave error of not having airborne protection to suppress ground fire.

This was a snake-in-the-grass shot.

Posted by Cordell at August 6, 2011 5:51 PM ET:

"If today's crash is confirmed to be a Taliban shoot down, it would be the second such incident in two weeks. On July 25, the Taliban shot down a Chinook with rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, just one hundred yards outside of an Afghan Army base in the Pech Valley in Kunar province. No ISAF and Afghan troops were killed in the crash, however."

Today's crash and the one on July 25th apparently reflect a combination of difficult/mountainous terrain and new Taliban tactics. Unfortunately, our military shares the FAA's "tombstone" mentality: don't bother to seriously investigate and correct a potentially deadly problem unless someone dies. Because no casualties were sustained in the first incident, the powers-that-be did nothing to prevent another Chinook shoot down in the same area.

I offer my sympathies and condolences to the families of these brave men and pray that their great sacrifice will not be in vain.

Posted by Render at August 6, 2011 6:25 PM ET:

http://www.navytimes.com/mobile/index.php?storyUrl=http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/08/navy-special-warfare-community-in-shock-and-disbelief-080611/

May not have been a shoot down.

UPDATING,
R

Posted by Rosario at August 6, 2011 6:42 PM ET:

I have a feeling this is a result of a lack of resources or a pullback of resources too soon increasing everyone's operational risk. Ironic they were within running distance of kabul.

Posted by Gman at August 6, 2011 6:56 PM ET:

A sad day, I pray for the families of the fallen. RIP my brothers.

Posted by dr burke at August 6, 2011 7:02 PM ET:

Lets see, overloaded helicopter with troops and
their gear, plus lots of guns and ammo, slow to
take off, yup, a killing field. A false trail laid down
by the Taliban, to fly into a trap. Yup, and they knew who was on board, Seal Team 6 members. Payback and they flew right into it. Yup, a saboteur set them up. FInd him and he will lead you to the Taliban who
killed our troops. Payback is a bitch...

Posted by Rana Imran at August 6, 2011 7:42 PM ET:

There is not coordination between ISI and Taliban. US offer money to ISI and Taliban Offer Bomb to ISI. For money ISI is with US and for life, ISI have to fear Taliban. This is all short summary of ISI-US-Taliban Triangle fact.

Posted by CC at August 6, 2011 8:03 PM ET:

JRP,

The Defense Department has been working on that technology for some time now, though I think its been strictly focused on tanks. I'm not sure if they're using the same schematics as the Israeli model.

--

If it was a tip-off, then theres obviously another mole somewhere high up the chain. But if they were on the ground for two hours it really wouldn't be difficult for insurgents to assemble and shoot it down, especially if they had a safe haven in the near vicinity. If DEVGRU was sent, then there HAD to have been an HVT. This makes me wonder if they were fed information (on QZR maybe) in order to lure them to the area. I'm not sure on how long the standard raid takes, but two hours on the ground just doesn't make sense.

Posted by john at August 6, 2011 8:06 PM ET:

Stingers should not have been able to paint this helo without being detected, had it been equipped with the new IFF system. Are the CH-47 equipped with mode-5 IFF?

Posted by romanesq at August 6, 2011 8:46 PM ET:

Been upset at this news all day. Prayers up for the finest of our best warriors and their families.

Such a sad day to lose so many fine brave men.

Posted by americanpatriot at August 6, 2011 9:35 PM ET:

The ISI has been carefully planning an attack of this proportion since the OBL raid of MAY2. They spent their time and resources in order to get proper intel of when a seal team 6 op would take place. Someone provided the intel that seal team 6 was local and prepared to strike. They then leaked some false intel that led to this raid and the intel they linked must of been high value so that they could be sure that seal team 6 would be sent in to do the job.

They fed the taliban the intel provided or told them what weaponry to use and here we are. I doubt that this will ever openly be dealt with in the form of war us vs. pakistan. But we all know our greatest enemy is the pak gov/isi. The cia and our spec ops will deal with this one way or the other. Expect new attacks on pak govt and army assets by "terrorists".

Posted by americanpatriot at August 6, 2011 9:38 PM ET:

Rana,

Im sorry but i strongly disagree. The ISI and pak gov openly protect the pak taliban and call them "good taliban" in the waziristan area. Thus instead of taking initiative and clearing the area we have to do mass drone attacks.

Posted by KaneKaizer at August 7, 2011 12:11 AM ET:

Guys, the batteries on those old Stinger missile launchers died decades ago plus the IFF system would have made them inoperable if they tried to fire on a US-built aircraft. There are a LOT of portable SAMs that aren't made by us, you know.

Posted by Buff52 at August 7, 2011 1:50 AM ET:

Hi. If the Chinook had been escorted by a Huey Cobra gunship like the U.S. Marines fly, would the RPG team have been spotted before the shoot down? Why isn't there tactical doctrine to provide CH-47 Chinooks with gunship escorts during take off and landing operations?

Posted by zulu1 at August 7, 2011 2:23 AM ET:

If any HVT was present I don't reckon it would be QZR. He isn't described to normally work out of Wardak. Maybe some Haqqani Network figure?

Even though some HVT wasn't present the DEVGRU could still be in line for missions. They also need to practice "less important" missions so when intel comes along for the next OBL-type-raid everything runs smoothly.

Posted by JC at August 7, 2011 6:41 AM ET:

Killshot -

GEN Mattis is COMCENT, I think it's GEN Allen you are referring to.

Posted by jordi valera muņoz at August 7, 2011 8:01 AM ET:

For a single chinook? why not two black hawk?

Posted by zulu1 at August 7, 2011 10:09 AM ET:

Could be a setup but do I wonder if the ISI would have the nerve to go after DEVGRU this direct. If so it's a declaration of war by the ISI. The ISI could easily though have taught for example HN vulnerabilities of US aircraft.

It's certainly fishy that the taliban, or more likely Haqqani Network, are able to down a chinook when it's by coincidence carrying that many SEALs. But it may still be luck. If they keep on firing RPGs eventually one is gonna hit.

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at August 7, 2011 10:20 AM ET:

Clarence I read the article. Nothing there leads me to believe this was a set-up, etc. KANE the article says team members of the OBL raid were present. Wat, who to believe? Could it have been hit by a Strela supplied by our enemies? RPG at nite is pretty lucky. Wat a heartbreaker. This is hard to swallow, and more info may be revealed.

Posted by Charley at August 7, 2011 10:56 AM ET:

The Stinger batteries could probably be kluged by ISI to help out their Talib brethren.

Posted by Killshot at August 7, 2011 11:14 AM ET:

JC -- appreciate your comment, but July 8, Gates announced Mattis as Petraeus replacement for CENTCOM, which has overall control of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's been on station since a week or so after the announcement.

Posted by Mramirez at August 7, 2011 11:41 AM ET:

It just hurts to know that the single worse loss of life in this war happened to Team 6. Someone has to be held accountable for allowing this to happen again, especially after "Operation Redwing." With that said, after reading everyone's posts I agree that something is very wrong here and it had to be a setup.

Posted by Charu at August 7, 2011 12:00 PM ET:

News reports state that the SEALS were there to support Rangers who were under heavy fire. They accomplished the task, but the Chinook was shot down when they were leaving. The Rangers then secured the site of the crash. Are daisy cutters and AC 130s not useful in first clearing the area? Or is this too imprecise in this situation?

Posted by JRP at August 7, 2011 12:42 PM ET:

If one were transporting a very valuable object of art or a critically important one-of-a-kind document or an irreplaceable statue, would one do it in a Chinook Helicopter?

These machines are loud, create swirls of dust, have wide freeboard, are cumbersome and ungainly with little in the way of countermeasure capability. They should be used for cargo transport; not for the transport in and out of combat of any of our warriors.

Smaller more agile less targetable aircraft should have been employed for the mission. I concur with an earlier commentator that a formal board of inquiry should be convened.

Not since the CIA screwup at FOB Chapman back in December 2009 has AQ/Taliban inflicted such a grave loss upon us.

Posted by gitsum at August 7, 2011 1:14 PM ET:

Sad, but not forgotten, carry on.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at August 7, 2011 4:37 PM ET:

Sigh- as painful as it may sound to many in here who believe that some ISI plot to take down Tm Six has just been executed let's look at a more likely scenario. A lucky shot by an RPG brought down the big bird. Yes, it can happen and rather easily. We have just been so lucky that speed, surprise and violence of action has mostly prevented these instances in the past. For those who wonder why we use Chinooks the answer is that it's the only aircraft powerful enough to get through the high elevation passes with men and combat equipment. However, command should consider crossloading smaller elements into more airframes in case of a shoot down. This is a slightly bigger signature but lessons the chance of an entire team getting wiped out in a single shoot down plus as a QRF the signature usually doesn't matter as much. God bless all the who sacrifice everything in this war for it is truly a long, long, long war.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at August 7, 2011 4:43 PM ET:

Since when did the secretive SEAL TM SIX suddenly become front page news headlines? What ever happened to OPSEC? Their identities are supposed to be kept secret as well as the unit itself. This is a great example of why we used to keep this stuff silent. Now the enemy has a psychological and propaganda victory to use against us. When will we stop feeding our enemies such vital information through the media? Who is leaking such confidential information? It's criminal, somebody should be shot over this.

Posted by brookie at August 7, 2011 6:59 PM ET:

The chinooks fly better at high altitude. They have more lift than the blackhawks. The average altitude of that district is around 2400m. I would think this has something to do with why the chinook was used. I have flown in them quite a bit and you are vulnerable in them. All it takes is one lucky shot.

Posted by JC at August 7, 2011 8:21 PM ET:

Killshot -

Mattis replaced GEN Patraeus a couple years ago as CENTCOM commander, however GEN Allen just replaced Patraeus as ISAF Commander.

Posted by gary siebel at August 7, 2011 11:34 PM ET:

An interesting change of tactics by the enemy. I didn't know about the earlier rpg attack. Were they at night? Article doesn't note? But it would make better sense to ambush at night because it would require concealment in place and waiting for chopper lift-off. Very WWII close-in, anti-tank style. No laser or electronics required; just point and shoot.

Probability that they were lured to that location. seems strong. Change in tactics requires a change in tactics. Awareness that it was probably a lure can be used in future ops to ferret out the informant. Make like tactics don't change, but change them anyway. Perhaps a few big, impressive ops to set the stage for a fake op

Less soldiers in one helicopter might be a better idea. New perimeter would have to be greater than the range of an rpg -- how realistic is that? Better to just land in unexpected places, don't leave the chopper on the ground,(like in "Alien"), and make the pick-up at a different location than the drop. Maybe bring attack choppers. Think like Rommel -- mobility, maybe electric bikes to get to a further pick-up zone (I know that sounds weird and unarmored is a problem but fast mobility requires lighter travel) -- but way too hot for a long run. Leave one or two bikes with multiple transmitters, ones they find, and ones they don't.

But it costs too much money. We have a huge deficit. It has become unrealistic. Wars have brought down empires throughout the centuries.. We're getting out for financial reasons, which are connected to the political reasons.

Our main targets all along should have been the madrassas. Make it undesirable for parents to send their children to them. Promote alternative schooling. Separate the clerics from the people. Target them, but not the congregations. Our battle is with Islamic clerics, not Islam itself. The two should separated via propaganda, just like a political campaign. School choice is a big deal for some in American. Give Afghans school choice, too. ...... Too late.

Posted by Killshot at August 7, 2011 11:35 PM ET:

JC...you're right. He got the job in July 2010, not '11. Guess Allen did not bring enough "cultural awareness" from Anbar.

Posted by weaponsgrade at August 8, 2011 12:18 AM ET:

Who ever signed off on this mission needs to be dismissed from service or placed in a brig. Never should 20 plus seals be put on "one" helicopter flying into a hot zone. Any attempted excuse of a lack of equipment is pure hogwash. Somebody made a very poor decision.

Posted by Neonmeat at August 8, 2011 3:57 AM ET:

RIP in guys, true heroes and warriors the lot and I include the ANA Spec-ops in that. I'm from the UK and I am deeply saddened by this loss.


Regarding some of the comments that state what were an elite team like this doing in a raid after mediocre targets, well these boys like most ISAF Special Forces are out every night, day after day, week after week in an unrelenting campaign to kill and capture Insurgent commanders and other HVTs. You can guarantee this wasn't the only night time raid going on in Afghan that night and I guess if they have intel they have to act on it. Without knowing the exact circumstances I can't really comment on what went wrong I'm just trying to say these guys weren't wasting their time they were just doing their job and unfortunately not all their raids can have a target like OBL.

Ultimate respect for these guys, and again I include the ANA in that, and I hope their brothers are out there tonight avenging these deaths.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at August 8, 2011 8:30 AM ET:

Remember that Terrain in Afghanistan is the number one enemy of our troops and friend of the insurgents. It is possible to hide in plain sight. TERRAIN, TERRAIN, TERRAIN! The mountain passes are high and offer few routes for infiltration, making HLZ's and both air/ground infil/exfil routes predictable. HLZ's can be mined and ground routes IED'd. The Rangers probably offset a few kilometers and were walking into the target when they got pinned down by a security patrol. I'm sure they had ISR platforms searching for any potential threats along their route.
Insurgents have used cave complexes, spider holes, tunnels, ancient cisterns, covered themselves in heavy wool blankets to hide heat signatures, hollowed out large standing trees to hide in when AC are overhead, etc... All primitive but effective counter measures to ISR. Given the amount of security measures these guys had in place I figure there was a valuable mid to high lvl HVT in the area. Rangers generally hit the mid to low level HVT's. Rangers had probably worked out a QRF plan with Tm 6 in advance.

Posted by JRP at August 8, 2011 8:32 AM ET:

One other thought . . . A solid forensic crash analysis has to be undertaken here. It is not inconceivable that this was, literally, an inside job by one or more members of the Afghan Commando Section that accompanied the SEALS.

A double-agent could have detonated a charge of some kind or simply fired on the air crew.

The ability of our special ops to insert is matched by our enemy's ability to infiltrate.

Only a thorough post-crash forensic analysis is going to determine what brought the Chinook down.

Posted by JRP at August 8, 2011 9:06 AM ET:

And even another thought . . . Unlikely, but not remote-If the Chinook was leaving vice arriving, and had been on the ground any length of time, it is possible that an enemy wearing a similar Afghan Army uniform simply boarded the Chinook unchallenged along with the Afghan group that had been aboard at time of arrival.

Any kind of "bunching up" is problematical. Smaller more agile aircraft have to be used for missions so that a shootdown does not become the equivalent of a wipeout. Also, we need to be thinking about use of decoy and screening aircraft as, regrettably, assets expended to protect our more high-value assets.

Finally . . . What about development of lighter-than-air craft? If one or more helium cells are destroyed, there still would be enough to keep the dirigible aloft.

Very large lumbering aircraft like the Chinook may need to go the way of the battleship. They are simply too vulnerable to ground fire.

Posted by Brother Walt Gee at August 8, 2011 12:13 PM ET:

Admiral Olson just turned over the colors at SOCOM. In his prepared remarks he lamented that SPECOPs people are increasingly being used for "regulars!"

That sure answered a bunch of questions. The more I listen and read, the more it becomes apparent that as ADM Olson has said, we may be revisiting Stanley again soon. As an incorrigible Pentagon Channel watcher, every day I become more and more appalled. The loss Friday was clearly avoidable, and wildly insane. It broke every every every tenet of SPECOPS since Major Rogers laid down the basics in 1750. And worse, we lost 30 incredible warriors who gave themselves willingly, even knowing in advance that they were being deliberately sent into a probable ambush with no gunships, back up or point.

I expect my post to be immediately removed, but at least 30 of my heroes know exactly where I stand---WITH THEM! And Di-Dah-Dit Dad, MIS-X.

Posted by ArneFufkin at August 8, 2011 2:25 PM ET:

@JRP: Would V-22s be an option for the SF community?

Posted by ArneFufkin at August 8, 2011 2:43 PM ET:

@Killshot: Do you honestly think General Allen micro-managed this mission from Bagram? You seem to be flailing around looking for a scapegoat.

Why don't we let the investigation unfold? Sometimes a resourceful, entrenched enemy wins. Sad to say.

Posted by drexel at August 8, 2011 5:10 PM ET:

God bless the souls of the brave warriers and God bless their families for this tragic loss.

You and your sacrifice Will Not Be Forgotten!

Posted by JR at August 8, 2011 7:51 PM ET:

One must remember that while the use of our SF teams maybe in question, we depend on solely the speculation of our news media, which most of the time, gets the details wrong. For now these senseless details are unimportant as remembering the families and the great sacrifice layed at all free people of the world's feet. Please, let us bury the fallen with honor and rememberance first.

Posted by blert at August 8, 2011 9:03 PM ET:

http://news.yahoo.com/us-helicopter-shot-down-taliban-trap-afghan-official-070456126.html

Now it's out: it was a trap from the get go.

Posted by Christopher at August 8, 2011 9:13 PM ET:

I cant understand, why every body is blaming ISI. What i think ISI is working in the interest of USA and OBL was also pointed out by them to USA. They are just not claiming it to avert revenge from Taliban and local supporters.

Posted by Neonmeat at August 9, 2011 5:27 AM ET:

@ JRP
I'm sorry but I find your reasoning very hard to accept and frankly a little disrespectful to the ANA sacrifice in this tragedy by your accusation that they were perhaps involved. The Afghan Spec Ops who work alongside ISAF Special Forces are well respected in that community, many have done multiple tours with the Seals and other SF outfits and have friends and comrades among them. They were trained by these very teams to be the best the ANA has to offer they are not your average uneducated ANA Trooper with an AK.
Do you really think during an operation the SEALs or even the Afghan Spec Ops are gonna let some random guy in an ANA uniform just get on their Helo? Come one, they know and work with these men they do not all look the same as each other! There is an interesting article on the At War blog at the New York Times which I have linked to below which looks at the relationship between ANA Commandos and ISAF Special Forces Teams that train and work with them.

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/anxiety-hovers-over-iraqi-commandos/

Posted by alexanderrcm at August 9, 2011 8:59 AM ET:

Can't help but think Iran or the ISI have their fingerprints on these shoot downs. Moles should be anticipated and missions constantly changed up until the last second to prevent moles from having any effective intel. Seems also that a Chinook filled to the brim should have been surrounded by men still on the ground next to blackhawks to guarantee a Chinook's safe departure. As a civi I imagine the military looks at all of this but when things like this happen it makes us civis wonder and it is gut wrenching as a full supporter of our military with family deployed.

Posted by sanjith menon at August 9, 2011 10:26 AM ET:

The problem happens when a chinook is landing or taking off. The rotors kick up so much of dust that the ground eddys layer after layer, if its a dry soil, to the extent that for a few minutes the pilot cannot see the threats around. The way to solve it is a better design for the rotor blades. Solutions have already been found in submarines . But its more complex in helis, with lateral and vectoral forces kicking in. Computational fluid dynamics research is on, and will find an answer soon.

Posted by observer at August 9, 2011 12:20 PM ET:

Every nation operates on its own national interests and the ISI as a part of the Pakistani Defence establishment, carries out whatever policies they consider important to national security. You have to ask yourself what a tit for tat response like this will get Pakistan. If you score a big retaliatory hit like downing a Chinook loaded with Seal Team 6, is the U.S, being the biggest and strongest country in the history of mankind, going to sit back on its heels and not respond. ISI must take this into consideration and temper any anger, real or perceived, before trying to "get back" at the CIA or whatever they think has slighted their reputation (if not their own doing).

I would not give too much credit because the conspiracy theory gets too complicated for the ISI to actually have scored that big a hitback even if they had the nerve to think it would be of any benefit to their core set of national security interests to attempt this sort of hit back. What are the odds of setting up the the intel, the logistics, the specific militant outfit to carry this out, gaining knowledge of when seal team 6 would be operating, counting on all of the SEALS being on one chinook and then having an RPG actually hit. Tom Clancy best seller odds that beat the statistics and actually happened in my opinion. All of this intel, logistics and execution within 3 months??

If you don't think ISI has the brains to realize this is a dumb operation to even contemplate against Seal Team 6, just look at the CIA visa issue and how fast the Pakistani Government caved to each and every demand of the CIA last month after trying to restrict movement and entry of officers. I dont think ISI or Pakistan has the bullets to get into a fight of this nature with the might of America always in their mind.

Posted by MNlan at August 9, 2011 1:59 PM ET:

so i stumbled opon this form and i was wondering instead of sending in a loud hellie why wouldnt we send in a jet and bomb the hell outta them? i mean if they were on a rescue mission to help there comrads pinned down atleast get the cordiance of the enemy and bomb them first then send in the troops for the rescue. instead of risking human casulities. not saying im right cause im sure they wanted to catch the enemy enemy alive for intell purposes.... RIP all the fallen soldiers

Posted by Barry Larking at August 9, 2011 4:08 PM ET:

Our thoughts and prayers must be with the families, friends and colleagues of the fallen - U.S. and A.N.A.

Rest in Peace.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at August 9, 2011 8:57 PM ET:

No new tactics here. Nothing new about death and destruction during wartime. Nothing new about insurgents targeting QRF/Medevac first responders or planting a source to draw a force into an ambush. BTW an ambush is just that. Perhaps insurgents are receiving some extra training on targeting our helicopters. I think the biggest concern here is that a more sophisticated heat seeking missile brought the bird down. Then maybe we could find a third party supporting insurgents with sophisticated weaponry and training. However these guys are old hands at bringing down helicopters. It is worthy to note that the aircrew and bird was not from TF 160 that typically would fly a team such as Six. Also please stop referring to SEALS, Rangers, AF Special Operators as Special Forces. There is by doctrine only one organization that are Special Forces and that is the army Green Berets.
All these fancy conspiracy theories are WAY WAY too complicated to execute (KISS) in the dead of night. That bird could have been full of ANA, 101st or empty and the insurgents wouldn't have known any better. I agree that the tactics used here seem to have played into the insurgents hands and need to be revised. I haven't heard that they didn't have any CAS or gunship coverage. Like I said before, you can't shoot what you can't see. Afghanistan is not a free fire zone and the higher ups are very, very sensitive to dropping bombs no matter what. Bad day gents, very bad day.

Posted by Jts at August 10, 2011 3:26 AM ET:

I dont share the picture that this was planned by the ISI and other conspieacy theories
The taliban shooter saw a fully loaded helicopter and saw it as a good target and shot it down?! or it malfunctioned
I dont belive in the ISI or a leak in the chain of command
Its to far fetched, the truth is often more simple.
No way the taliban knew that is was exactly
Seal team six, come on people be realistic.

R.I.P to these soldiers.

Jake /sweden

Posted by GW at August 10, 2011 9:32 AM ET:

Wouldn't it be better not to have so many men in one helicopter? Split them up into smaller and faster helicopters? Don't forget the dog who also gave his/her life.

Posted by QW7GM at August 10, 2011 11:35 PM ET:

A RPG-7 cannot bring down a Chinook, a Kornet E can.

Posted by Mr. Nobody at August 11, 2011 5:01 PM ET:

@QW7 I think you are very wrong about that. A freak shot in the right spot could cause it to come down. Could have been light machine gunfire as well or multiple RPG's. Anything can happen.

@GW smaller and lighter helicopters don't have the lift capacity to get up in elevation making them far more vulnerable than the CH 47's.

The CH 47 is still an awesome platform for the Afghanistan mission. The real problem is that most of the air lift capability in theatre is owned by the conventional battlespace owner and special operators are having to beg them for helicopters to do missions. Many are very stingy with their birds. The rest of the time they are being used to ferry around the over bloated officer and VIP corps all around the country. This is one of the primary reasons that the army's green berets have a statistically higher mobility casualty kill rate due to IED's. They often time must drive to get to their objectives. Their firebases are under constant surveillance with one way in/ out. Special Forces and Special Operations need their own air wing back, other than just TF 160.

Posted by david at August 12, 2011 8:50 AM ET:

Does anyone know which of the servicemen was the canine handler?

Posted by QW7Gm at August 12, 2011 6:52 PM ET:

The Kornet (Russian: "??????"; English: Cornet) is a Russian anti-tank missile (ATGM). It is a second generation ATGM intended to deal with main battle tanks and to engage slow and low flying helicopters. The 9M133 missile together with its 9P163-1 tripod launcher and 1PN79-1 thermal sight forms the 9K123 missile system, the 9K123 can be c
arried and operated by a two-person infantry crew.
Weight 27 kg (29 kg with launch tube)
Length 1200 mm
Diameter 152 mm
Warhead weight 7 kg HEAT, 10 kg TNT equivalent
Operational range 100-5500m
Guidance system SACLOS laser beam riding
Combat history
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kornets were used by some groups of Iraqi special forces to attack American armoured vehicles, "disabling at least two Abrams tanks and one Bradley armored troop carrier in the opening week of the war.
The second verified episode of Kornet ATGM in combat use occurred during the 2006 Lebanon War, where the missiles, reportedly supplied by Syria, were successfully used by Hezbollah fighters to destroy up to two Israeli Merkava tanks, and damage a number of others. I might be wrong but Kornet E proved to do the job Right.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9M133_Kornet

Posted by Gerard at September 4, 2011 6:01 PM ET:

Given the time frames, it is entirely possible that the CH-47 spoken of here was brought down by a missile, a missile captured from Mu'ammar Gaddafi, and transported to Afghanistan for use against the USA and coalition forces. That would be a bit ironic now wouldn't it? Gaddafi had somewhere around 20,000 MANPADS missiles. How many are now in the hands of Islamic extremists? Maybe one of you "experts" can tell us?