August 10th, 2011
09:59 AM ET

PAYBACK: Coalition forces take out insurgents who downed Chinook

By CNN's Larry Shaughnessy and Adam Levine

Coalition forces in Afghanistan killed the Taliban insurgents involved in the downing last weekend of the Chinook helicopter, which killed 38 special forces, support and Afghan troops, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan said on Wednesday.

ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen, said the attack happen sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning in Afghanistan. "Coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter, which we assess was an RPG round. This action was a continuation of the original mission," said Allen, who replaced Gen. David Petraeus last month as the overall US commander in Afghanistan. "This does not ease our loss, but we must and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy."

On the night of the crash, the CH-47 carried Special Operations Forces, including some two dozen Navy SEALs, intended to pursue insurgents from a Taliban network who were fleeing an engagement in which six militants had already been killed.

In a news release sent out just as Allen began briefing reporters, ISAF said “The strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot associated with the Aug. 6 downing of the CH-47 helicopter, which resulted in the deaths of 38 Afghan and coalition service members. “

Allen said Mohibullah was not the Taliban leader who the SEALs were after on the night of August 6th when their helicopter crashed, but he would not say who the leader was.

Mohibullah, the unnamed fighter who fired the RPG that apparently brought down the helicopter, and several other Taliban fighters were killed by precision air strikes delivered by an F-16 as they tried to flee Afghanistan through the Chak District not far from where the SEALs and their fellow troops died. "After an exhaustive manhunt, Special Operations forces located Mullah Mohibullah and the shooter after receiving multiple intelligence leads and tips from local citizens," the news release from ISAF said.

An investigation of the downing of the Chinook is being led by Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, the Deputy Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

While Allen said the early assessment was that it was an RPG or rocket propelled grenade that hit the helicopter, he acknowledged for the first time that the Chinook took fire from several Taliban locations, mostly from small arms fire, on its approach to its landing zone. He did not know yet if any of the small arms fire hit the helicopter. "The purpose of the investigation ultimately is to assess that it was in fact an RPG and ultimately to assess if small arms fire contributed to the crash of this aircraft. And so that will come out in the investigation."

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Levi Berzins

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  3. what the hell??

    "Rajeev" Well said, I could not have stated it any better! Cheers.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:12 am | Reply
    • rajeev

      wired dangersroom

      August 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  4. rajeev

    U.S. Insists: We Killed The Guy That Shot Down Our SEALs

    The U.S. military says they know who shot down a helicopter filled with 38 American and Afghan troops, including 19 Navy SEALs. That man is now dead, killed by a “precision airstrike” from an F-16, according to statement from the American-led coalition in Kabul.

    But the military won’t say how they’re so sure that this particular militant was the one responsible for the deadliest incident so far in the Afghan war. The Chinook helicopter took “fire from several insurgent locations on its approach,” the statement notes, and it “has not been determined if enemy fire was the sole reason for the helicopter crash.”

    In a talk with reporters, coalition forces commander Gen. John Allen said he believed that a single rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was likely responsible. (Some military insiders previously suspected that an improvised rocket was to blame.) But Allen added that he wouldn’t know for sure until a full investigation was complete.

    On Friday night, U.S. forces — including several Army Rangers — were sent into the Tangi valley, about 50 miles southwest of Kabul, to capture a local Taliban leader.

    As the American team moved through the valley, Reuters reports, “they soon saw insurgents armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.” A firefight erupted, as the team assaulted what they believed to be the leader’s compound. Some of the insurgents “soon broke away from the main group.” That’s when the team called for reinforcements. In flew the Chinook, loaded with eight Afghans and 30 Americans.

    “We committed a force to contain that element from getting out. And of course, in the process of that, the aircraft was struck by an RPG and crashed,” Allen said.

    The shooter, along with killed Taliban captain Mullah Mohibullah, “was located after receiving multiple intelligence leads and tips from local citizens. The two men were attempting to flee the country in order to avoid capture,” the coalition said in its statement. A “security force located and followed the insurgents to a wooded area in Chak district. After ensuring no civilians were in the area, the force called for the airstrike which resulted in the deaths of the Mullah Mohibullah, the shooter, and several of their Taliban associates.”

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Reuters that the coalition got the wrong guy. “The person who shot down the helicopter is alive,” he claimed.

    Allen said that was nonsense. “We tracked them, as we would in the aftermath of any operation, and we dealt with them with a kinetic strike,” he told reporters. “And in the aftermath of that, we have achieved certainty that they in fact were killed in that strike.”

    But Allen admitted that the target of the original raid remains at large. Of that, Allen said, he was sure.

    Photo: U.S. Army

    August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  5. rajeev

    Stop Sacrificing US Soldiers for Afghan Debacle

    Our presence in Afghanistan is not making us safer because Afghanistan is not a threat to us.

    The 38 deaths in Saturday’s helicopter crash in Afghanistan include 31 Americans, making this the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the war began. The tragic loss of American lives might be worth the sacrifice if it was making America safer, or if our presence was significantly improving the well-being of the Afghan people. But neither of these is true.

    Our presence in Afghanistan is not making us safer because Afghanistan is not a threat to us. This was clearly acknowledged by a senior Obama administration official in a background briefing to reporters on June 21.“United States hasn't seen a terrorist threat from Afghanistan, for the past seven or eight years,” he said. He noted that Al Qaeda had moved on to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

    Meanwhile, thanks to President Obama’s surge, over 100,000 U.S. troops are bogged down chasing an indigenous Afghan ragtag army, the Taliban, which has no interest in attacking anyone inside the United States. The only reason they are attacking U.S. soldiers is that U.S. soldiers are occupying their country.

    Even if there were a reason for U.S. forces to fight the Taliban, our presence only strengthens them. The Obama Administration has been trying to convince the American people that the surge in U.S. troops has been successful in weakening the Taliban. But a recent string of high-profile attacks that the Taliban have taken credit for belie that rosy assessment. The killing of Kandahar’s police chief, Kandahar’s mayor, President Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, a top presidential aide, and the deadly attack on the seemingly secure Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul—and now this helicopter downing–show that the Taliban are far from defeated.

    The truth is that the presence of foreign forces gives the Taliban its raison d’etre. Every time NATO forces kill Afghan citizens, the Taliban benefits. And that happens all the time. In fact, the very day the helicopter was shot down, August 2, NATO troops attacked a house in southern Helmand province and “inadvertently killed eight members of a family, including women and children.”

    You can bet that the some of their relatives will soon be placing IEDs along the road to blow up U.S. tanks.

    The Taliban have learned to downplay their unpopular fundamentalist ideology and take advantage of this popular discontent. Look at the case of In Wardak province, where the helicopter crashed. The Taliban had disappeared for several years, fleeing to Pakistan from 2002-2005. But capitalizing on the local anger

    about civilian casualties caused by NATO forces and anger at corrupt politicians, the Taliban returned and rebuilt, maintaining a stronghold in a province that borders Kabul.

    The U.S. presence supports the Taliban in even more direct ways. Millions of dollars from U.S. contracts to Afghan trucking companies that supply U.S. troops have gone to bribe Taliban fighters not to attack the convoys. So U.S. taxdollars pay our enemies, who use these resources to buy weapons to kill our soldiers.

    As for the well-being of the Afghans, our billions in development aid has done little to lift poor Afghans out of poverty. An in-depth report on Afghanistan just released by the International Crisis Group found that after 10 years of massive security, development and humanitarian assistance, “the international community has failed to achieve a politically stable and economically viable Afghanistan. Despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security.” The report found that development funds distort the local economy and often contribute to instability.

    So our presence has created financial and political conditions that strengthen the Taliban and leave Afghans in poverty. Our troops are being sacrificed to prop up a corrupt Afghan government that is not supported by its people. Precious resources are wasted on failed development projects while our own schools, roads and bridges are crumbling from lack of funds. This senseless waste of U.S. lives and resources, which is directly contributing to the catastrophic U.S. financial decline, is just what Osama bin Laden wanted to see happen.

    The Obama administration is planning to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, leaving a huge force of 90,000 troops still fighting this unwinnable war.

    The deaths of these 31 Americans, and the more than 2,600 U.S. soldiers who have died in this quagmire, should raise a renewed debate about our presence in Afghanistan.

    Let’s tell President Obama that the best way to pay tribute to the soldiers who have died—and to address our financial crisis–is to bring the rest of the troops home.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • rajeev

      Medea Benjamin

      August 10, 2011 at 10:41 am | Reply

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