By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
The 38 troops and support killed when their helicopter was shot down in Wardak province were part of a mission to go after a known Taliban leader directly responsible for attacks against American troops, two US military officials have told CNN. The team, including 22 SEALs, special operations forces from other services, seven Afghan commandos and a civilian translator, had been called in to assist members of the 75th Army Ranger regiment on the ground pinned down in a firefight, according to a senior US military official.
The officials did not know if the Taliban leader had been killed. They declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of ongoing operations in the crash area.
Coalition forces remain in the area because a decision has been made to physically remove the entire wreckage from the scene in an effort to keep insurgent forces from taking photos and using the wreckage as a 'propaganda tool," one official said. Investigators will be examining the wreckage but he indicated the crash was so catastrophic there may be little they can learn. The US had specific reports of enemy weapons activity in the direct area at the time of the crash, so a shootdown remains the working assumption of what happened.
One of the officials also said while the Chinook helicopter has been described as a 'conventional" aircraft, it did have all the latest electronic equipment and the crew had special operations training