Investigtion into Special Ops Helicopter Crash That Killed 38

On August 6th, the headlines were filled with news of the deaths of 30 U.S. Forces – 22 Navy SEALs and Navy Special Ops support personnel, 8 Air Force and Army personnel – when their CH-47 helicopter crashed in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Seven Afghan soldiers, an interpreter and a military working dog also were killed in the crash.

The CH-47 Chinook was carrying an Immediate Reaction Force – a secondary force – that was called in to help with a mission to capture or kill an Afghan who was the senior Taliban leader in Tangi Valley.

The U.S. Central Command investigative report into that incident was released Wednesday. It confirms that insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade hitting the rear rotor blade causing the crash as the helicopter neared its combat landing zone.

The CENTCOM report by Brigadier Gen. Jeffrey Colt offered several findings including:

The investigation determined that operational planning and execution were consistent with previous missions, and that the forces and capabilities were appropriate given the agility required to maintain pressure on insurgent networks.

Each crewmember was fully qualified to perform the aircrew duties to which he was assigned.

There was no evidence of a pre-planned ambush, but rather the result of the enemy being at a heightened state of alert due to more than 3 hours of ongoing coalition air operations.

The investigation did disclose a “noteworthy” aspect that the intelligence gathering aircraft overhead were not relocated during the ongoing mission and prior to the arrival of the second IRF team in the Chinook helicopter. It further states better synchronization is needed between the use of intelligence gathering aircraft overhead and the helicopters carrying special operations forces to a mission site.

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