By Debbie Gregory.
On Tuesday, January 5th, one U.S. service member was killed and two others were wounded in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
Military spokesman U.S. Army Col. Mike Lawhorn said that “all casualties have been evacuated” following Tuesday’s fighting. The evacuation was delayed when one helicopter took fire and was unable to land, and another was unable to take off.
The fighting was part of intensified efforts by the U.S. and its Afghan partners to push back against Taliban gains, and took place near the city of Marja.
The U.S. troops came under fire while accompanying Afghan special operations forces, according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.
Cook said two U.S. helicopters were dispatched to the scene to provide medical evacuation for the U.S. casualties but could not complete the mission. One was waved off after taking fire and returned safely to its base. The other, an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk, landed safely but was unable to take off because its rotor struck a wall.
Cook said that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been updated by U.S. commanders in Kabul on the situation via video-conference.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the incident.
For more than six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces that have complained of being abandoned by the U.S.-backed Afghan government. In December, the deputy governor of the volatile southern province said that Helmand could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” said Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Shoffner added, “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved.”
We at Military Connection add our condolences to the family and friends of the lost service member, and hope for a full and swift recovery for the two injured service members.