WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 — The investigation into a kidnapped aid worker’s death in Afghanistan during an Oct. 8 attempt to rescue her will be “as expeditious as possible,” a Defense Department spokesperson said here today.
Army Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, U.S. Special Operations Command chief of staff, will head the investigation to determine how British national Linda Norgrove died during a U.S. forces assault on the compound where she was being held in the Korengal Valley, Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told reporters.
The United States and the United Kingdom will work in close cooperation during the investigation, Lapan said. Norgrove was kidnapped Sept. 26 by insurgents in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. Lapan said U.S. and U.K. officials cooperated in the planning of Norgrove’s rescue operation, but the 36-year-old woman died of injuries she suffered when U.S. troops stormed the remote compound where she was held hostage.
Initial reports indicated Norgrove was killed by a captor’s suicide bomb. Lapan said the mission commander reviewed surveillance video and spoke to team members after the operation, and found some inconsistencies. He reported his concerns to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
At that point, Petraeus requested an investigation. Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command commander, appointed Votel to lead the inquiry.
Lapan said the investigation is fact-finding in nature, and Votel has the option to recommend further proceedings if warranted by the team’s findings.
Lapan said the investigative team would include U.K. representatives. While the team will focus on determining the facts as quickly as possible, Lapan said, it’s too soon to speculate on when the investigation will conclude.
While the investigation will determine the sequence of events during the rescue attempt, Lapan said, ultimate responsibility for Norgrove’s death rests with the kidnappers.
“This rescue mission would not have been necessary had she not been kidnapped,” he said.
President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Petraeus and many other officials from both nations have expressed their condolences to Norgrove’s family, friends and colleagues in the days since her death.
Obama said Norgrove’s service in Afghanistan illustrated her extraordinary commitment to advance the lives of others.
Petraeus said: “Linda was a courageous person with a passion to improve the lives of Afghan people, and sadly she lost her life in their service. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)