SEALs killed in Afghan crash were answering call for help
Providing new details, Western officials say a helicopter carrying Navy SEALs, Afghan commandos and other U.S. troops was shot down Saturday as it arrived to answer a call for help from another elite force.
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
August 8, 2011, 8:30 a.m.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan –— New details emerged Monday about the devastating helicopter crash that killed 30 U.S. service members including at least 22 elite Navy SEALs.
The chopper, carrying the SEALs as well as seven Afghan commandos and other U.S. troops, was downed early Saturday as it arrived to answer a call for help from another elite force, the Western military said publicly for the first time.
Previous reports had been contradictory about whether the Chinook helicopter carrying the SEALs was arriving or departing the scene in Afghanistan's Wardak province. The chopper was apparently downed by insurgent fire.
A statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, the first detailed public accounting of the incident, said the operation "began as a security search for a Taliban leader responsible for insurgent operations in the nearby Tangi Valley."
The initial team on the ground, not the SEALs, spotted insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades in the area and engaged them, and at about the same time issued a call for help. The statement did not identify the original team on the ground. Some published reports have said it was a unit of Army Rangers.
"These additional personnel were inbound to the scene when the CH-47 carrying them crashed, killing all on board," the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force said in a statement. It said the troops already on the ground, backed by forces from a nearby Western base, then moved in to secure the scene.
The statement identified those aboard as five air crew members and 25 personnel from the Special Operations command. Previous reports have said those attached to the SEALs force included a civilian interpreter and a dog firstname.lastname@example.org://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 0664.story