WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011 — The commander of U.S. Central Command has appointed an investigating officer to conduct an inquiry into the Nov. 26 deaths of Pakistani soldiers during an engagement near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis has appointed Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Clark from the Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Fla., as the investigating officer.
Mattis directed Clark to provide an initial report on the incident by Dec. 23.
“This is a Centcom-led investigation with full NATO cooperation and you will include NATO representation in your investigation team,” Mattis said in an appointment letter sent to Clark today.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments also will name representatives to the team, a Centcom news release says.
Mattis advised Clark to ensure openness and candor with the team members, respond to their questions and coordinate with them to receive evidence and interview witnesses.
“Their participation will facilitate the investigative process to determine what happened and how we preclude it from happening again,” he added.
The investigation team is to focus on the facts of the incident and any matters that add understanding to the circumstances surrounding the deaths and injuries of Pakistan forces.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander and commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, has designated a judge advocate to serve as Clark’s legal advisor for the investigation, Mattis said in his appointment letter.
Clark also may request other experts and administrative support.
Mattis said he expects Clark and his team to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident that took place near the Salala checkpoint in Afghanistan’s Kunar province near the Pakistan border.
Clark also is to determine which U.S., ISAF, Afghan and Pakistan units were involved; which units did or did not cross the border and under what conditions and authorities; what coordination was conducted, what battle damage occurred and the cause of deaths and injuries; and recommendations for improving near-border operations.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)