Ill-fated Mission Targeted Taliban Leader, Officials Say

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 8, 2011 — An ill-fat­ed Aug. 6 mis­sion that end­ed in the deaths of 38 Afghan and U.S. ser­vice mem­bers when their CH-47 Chi­nook heli­copter crashed was tar­get­ing a Tal­iban leader in the Sayyid­abad dis­trict of Afghanistan’s War­dak province, Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force Joint Com­mand offi­cials report­ed today.

The heli­copter report­ed­ly was fired on by an insur­gent rock­et-pro­pelled grenade while trans­port­ing the U.S. ser­vice mem­bers and Afghan com­man­dos to the scene of an engage­ment between ISAF and insur­gent forces, offi­cials said.

The U.S. ser­vice mem­bers on board includ­ed five air­crew mem­bers and 25 per­son­nel from the U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand, they added.

The oper­a­tion began as a secu­ri­ty search for a Tal­iban leader respon­si­ble for insur­gent oper­a­tions in the near­by Tan­gi Val­ley, offi­cials said. After com­menc­ing the search, the ini­tial secu­ri­ty force on the ground observed sev­er­al insur­gents armed with rock­et pro­pelled grenade launch­ers and AK-47 assault rifles mov­ing through the area.

The secu­ri­ty force and insur­gents exchanged small-arms fire, result­ing in sev­er­al ene­mies killed. As the insur­gents con­tin­ued to fire, the com­bined force on the ground request­ed addi­tion­al forces to assist the oper­a­tion. Those addi­tion­al per­son­nel were in-bound to the scene when the CH-47 car­ry­ing them crashed, killing all on board.

Imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the crash, the forces already on the ground broke con­tact with the insur­gents and moved to the crash site to secure the scene and search for sur­vivors. Addi­tion­al secu­ri­ty ele­ments deployed from a near­by for­ward oper­at­ing base to aug­ment the search and secu­ri­ty efforts.

An inves­ti­ga­tion is under way to deter­mine the cause of the crash.

From an Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force Joint Com­mand News Release