I heard in the news(BBC World) that three SEALs ware found dead, but the story isn't over yet so we must wait for official report from Pentagon.
Second Missing U.S. Soldier Found in Afghanistan
U.S. Expresses Regret for Air Raid That Kills Civilians
By David Brunnstrom, Reuters
KABUL, Afghanistan (July 4) - A second American soldier missing in Afghanistan for the past week has been located, a provincial governor said on Monday, adding that 17 civilians died in a U.S. air raid last week during a search for the missing troops.
After declining to comment over the weekend about reports of civilian deaths in Friday's air strike in Kunar province, the U.S. military said on Monday it had killed an ''unknown'' number of militants and civilians and regretted the loss of innocent life.
Kunar Governor Assadullah Wafa told Reuters earlier an investigation by Afghan security forces showed 17 civilians had been killed in the air raid on a village during a search for a small group of U.S. soldiers missing since last Tuesday.
He also said Afghan forces received information on Sunday night that a wounded American was being treated by villagers in a remote mountainous part of the province.
''Our troops are trying to reach the place,'' he said. ''Villagers have him and are treating him for wounds. But the soldier has not been handed over as yet.
''He is safe and there is no danger to his life. This is a very difficult terrain -- big trees and mountains.''
Wafa said the soldier was in the same area where a U.S. helicopter sent to rescue the troops was shot down by militants last Tuesday, killing all 16 U.S. Special Forces soldiers aboard.
U.S. military spokesmen in Kabul have declined to confirm reports quoting unidentified Pentagon officials as saying one missing Special Forces soldier was rescued on Saturday after evading militants for five days.
Wafa said he had no information about two other Special Forces soldiers believed to be missing.
A U.S. military statement said the compound targeted on Friday ''was a known operating base for terrorist attacks in Kunar province as well as a base for a medium-level terrorist leader.''
''U.S. forces regret the loss of innocent lives and follow stringent rules of engagement specifically to ensure that non-combatants are safeguarded,'' it said.
''However, when enemy forces move their families into the locations where they conduct terrorist operations, they put these innocent civilians at risk.''
Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal expressed concern. ''We have told the coalition in the past to be careful when bombing to make sure civilians don't become targets.''
A senior Afghan police officer said U.S. aircraft blasted militant positions in Kunar again on Sunday, but a U.S. spokesman said he had no information about fresh strikes he could report.
The deaths of the Special Forces troops in the helicopter was the single biggest combat blow to U.S. forces in Afghanistan since they overthrow the Taliban in late 2001 and came amid stepped up militant violence ahead of on Sept. 18. elections.
The effect will have been worsened by the fact that U.S. soldiers are still missing over the U.S. July 4 holiday.
The New York Times quoted a senior Pentagon official as saying that he rescued man was a Navy SEAL commando and three others were still missing. The SEALs are an elite force trained to operate behind enemy lines and avoid capture.
The BBC quoted U.S. officials as saying the rescued soldier had reportedly pointed U.S. searchers in the direction where the other soldiers had gone, but the search had been hampered by bad weather and their whereabouts and condition remained unclear.
The U.S. military has said it has no reason to believe the men had been killed or captured -- contrary to Taliban claims.
A Taliban spokesman said last week video of a captured soldier would be provided to news organizations and photographs posted on the Taliban Web site -- www.alemarah.com -- but neither appears to have happened. The site appeared blocked on Monday.
Guerrillas violence continued elsewhere on Monday, when a roadside bomb killed an Afghan driver and wounded two Turkish engineers between town of Ghazni and Paktika province.
Hundreds have died in militant-related violence since March Afghan officials have reported more than 70 deaths, over half of them of insurgents, in Taliban-related violence in the restive south and east since Wednesday.
With reporting by Saeed Ali Achakzai
I heard in the news(BBC World) that three SEALs ware found dead, but the story isn't over yet so we must wait for official report from Pentagon.
Desperate Call for Help Led to Chopper Shootdown
Encounter With Militants Led to Deadliest Day in Afghanistan for U.S. Forces
By DANIEL COONEY, AP
KABUL, Afghanistan (July 6) - The last radio contact was an urgent appeal for help. Night was falling, a rainstorm threatening, and four Navy SEAL commandos were surrounded by about a dozen militants in rugged, wooded mountains. They needed reinforcements.
That hurried call set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the U.S. military's deadliest blow in Afghanistan, and the greatest loss of life ever for the elite force of SEALs.
Nine days after the ambush and subsequent downing of a U.S. special forces helicopter with 16 troops aboard, U.S military officials in Kabul and Washington are starting to draw a clearer picture of what happened and have revealed some details.
The four commandos - one of whom was rescued, two killed and one who is still missing - were on a reconnaissance mission on June 28 as part of Operation Red Wing, searching for Taliban-led rebels and al-Qaida fighters in Kunar province, U.S. military spokesman Col. James Yonts said.
The eastern province has long been a hotbed of militant activity and a haven for fighters loyal to renegade former premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is wanted by the United States. U.S. officials said al-Qaida fighters also were in the region. Osama bin Laden was not said to be there - though he is believed to be somewhere along the rugged Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier.
The region's rugged, wooded mountains are popular with militants because they are easy to infiltrate from neighboring Pakistan and have plenty of places to hide.
The SEAL team - specially trained ''not only in the art of combat, but also in medicine and communications'' - were attacked by a ''pretty large force of enemy terrorists'' and radioed for reinforcements, Yonts said at a press conference.
After the radio call for help, eight Navy SEALs and an eight-member crew from the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, flew toward the mountains in a special forces MH-47 Chinook helicopter.
It was dusk as they neared the high-altitude battlefield.
Suddenly, militants hiding in the thick forest fired what is believed to have been a rocket-propelled grenade at the massive chopper, hitting it, he said.
Lt. Gen. James Conway, director of operations for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the shot as ''pretty lucky.''
Though damaged, the chopper flew on for about a mile before landing badly on a small ledge on the side of the mountain, then tumbling into a steep ravine. All 16 onboard are thought to have died in the crash. Militants then swarmed over the wreckage.
The Chinook, when hit, had been flying alongside other choppers. Their pilots immediately informed U.S. commanders of the crash, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of information regarding special forces operations.
U.S. warplanes, more helicopters and forces on the ground were dispatched to the site, but they were hampered by the approaching rainstorm that lashed the mountains for 24 hours.
In the meantime, there was no contact from the four commandos. No one knew if they had been killed in the firefight, or had survived and escaped but were unable to radio for help, the official said.
Fears were further raised when a purported Taliban spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, claimed rebels had captured one of the men. But he gave no proof and U.S. officials were skeptical.
Hakimi - who also claimed insurgents shot down the helicopter - often calls news organizations to take responsibility for attacks, and the information frequently proves exaggerated or untrue. His exact tie to the Taliban leadership is unclear.
U.S. forces finally reached the wreckage of the helicopter last Thursday, 36 hours after it went down.
''We put forces on the ground, we established positions so no more enemy could enter the region. Little by little we took control of the greater area so we could reach the crash site and begin recovery operations,'' another military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara, told The Associated Press.
Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan
Major U.S. military helicopter crashes in Afghanistan since the Taliban were driven from power in 2001:
Jan. 20: Two U.S. Marines are killed when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashes about 40 miles south of Bagram Air Base.
March 4: Six U.S. troops are killed when an MH-47 Chinook Army special forces helicopter is shot down near Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.
Jan. 30: All four American troops aboard are killed when a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crashes east of Bagram Air Base.
March 23: A Black Hawk helicopter crashes north of Ghazni, killing all six military personnel on board.
Nov. 23: An MH-53 transport helicopter crashes in Kapisa province, killing five service personnel.
Aug. 12: A U.S. marine is killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashes in Khost province.
Oct. 21: A Black Hawk helicopter crashes in western Afghanistan, killing an American airman.
April 6: A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashes during a dust storm in Ghazni province, killing 15 American servicemen and three civilian contractors.
June 28: A CH-47 Chinook helicopter with 17 aboard crashes during an anti-guerrilla mission in the northeastern Kunar province.
U.S. officials initially said 17 people were on the chopper, but later revised it downward when they realized that one of the service members who was listed on the flight manifest did not get on the aircraft.
The bodies of the 16 - ages 21 to 40 - were recovered and flown to Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, before being transported to Dover, Del.
Then on Saturday, a breakthrough came in the desperate search for the four commandos. A friendly tribal elder living in the nearby mountains told authorities he was caring for one of them in his house, Kunar Gov. Asadullah Wafa said. It wasn't clear how the commando got there, he said.
U.S. forces rushed to the site and found the commando, wounded, but in stable condition. He was flown to Bagram for treatment - and a debriefing, giving military commanders the first crucial clues about what happened to the ill-fated team.
But the good news didn't last.
On Saturday, a U.S. airstrike in the region killed as many as 17 civilians, prompting a strong rebuke by the Afghan government. The next day, U.S. troops in the area spotted the bodies of two of the commandos in a deep ravine. It took another 24 hours to recover their remains and fly them to Bagram.
It was the largest loss of Navy SEALs in a single incident since the force of about 2,400 was formed in 1962.
U.S. commanders refused to give up hope for the fourth missing service member. About 300 troops and numerous aircraft were still in the area Wednesday, searching for him and hunting ''a large number'' of militants, Yonts said.
''We're, of course, doing everything we can to find the last of the four SEALs. And it's a real priority, and something the president asked to get briefed on this morning,'' National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said aboard Air Force One.
The U.S. military has remained tightlipped on what the commandos were doing in the area, or what happened to the men following their urgent calls for help and the helicopter crash.
AP-NY-07-06-05 19:09 EDT
How the Shepherd Saved the SEAL
Exclusive: The tale of an Afghan's amazing rescue of a wounded U.S. commando
A crackle in the brush. That's the sound the Afghan herder recalls hearing as he walked alone through a pine forest last month. When he looked up, he saw an American commando, his legs and shoulder bloodied. The commando pointed his gun at the Afghan. "Maybe he thought I was a Taliban," says the shepherd, Gulab. "I remembered hearing that if an American sticks up his thumb, it is a friendly gesture. So that's what I did." To make sure the message was clear, Gulab lifted his tunic to show the American he wasn't hiding a weapon. He then propped up the wounded commando, and together the pair hobbled down the steep mountain trail to Sabari-Minah, a cluster of adobe-and-wood homes--crossing, for the time being, to safety.
What Gulab did not know is that the commando he encountered was part of a team of Navy SEALs that had been missing for four days after being ambushed by Taliban insurgents during a reconnaissance mission in northeastern Afghanistan. An initial search mission to find the missing SEALs ended in disaster on June 28, when a Chinook helicopter carrying 16 service members was shot down over Kunar province, killing everyone aboard, in one of the deadliest attacks so far on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Since then, the bodies of two of the missing SEALs have been recovered; another is still classified as missing, though the Taliban claims he was captured and beheaded.
One member of the team did survive. Though the military has not released the name of the SEAL (the U.S. military seldom gives out the names of its special-operations personnel), TIME pieced together his story on the basis of briefings with U.S. military officials in Afghanistan plus an exclusive account of how Gulab, an Afghan herdsman, rescued the wounded commando. What emerges is the tale of a courageous U.S. fighter facing impossible odds in unfamiliar terrain, stalked by the enemy and stripped of everything but his gun and his will to survive. But it is also a story of mercy and fraternity, showing that even in the war-scorched landscape of the Afghan mountains, little shoots of humanity sometimes have a chance to grow.
The clashes in Kunar province have highlighted a worrying surge in violence in Afghanistan, where 15,000 U.S. troops are based. Several months ago, U.S. and Afghan officials claimed the Taliban was a spent force. But the Islamist fighters and their al-Qaeda allies have sprung back with fresh recruits, new weaponry and advanced bombmaking skills passed on to them by terrorists in Iraq, officials in Kabul say.
It was in response to signs of a mounting threat from Taliban fighters that the four-man commando team found itself in the Afghan forests of Kunar province on June 28, maneuvering under low clouds and a drenching rain. The mission, code-named Operation Redwing, was to find and engage the enemy. But in late afternoon, the commandos sent back a one-line message to the "Ark," a coalition-forces operations room in Kabul. Accompanied by a warning chime, it read, "Troops in contact." Translation: a fire fight was under way.
That was the SEALs' last message. The tracking devices each carried went dead, possibly because the men ditched their heavy rucksacks so they could move unburdened, a U.S. official says. Within minutes of receiving the message, eight commandos and eight crewmen of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment piled into an MH-47 Chinook helicopter and sped out to help the trapped men.
According to accounts provided to U.S. commanders by the surviving Navy SEAL, the commando team had come under fierce attack from a large group of Taliban fighters, who pounded their location with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and a steady hail of small-arms fire. The clatter of the approaching Chinook may or may not have been audible to the SEALs, but the Taliban surely heard it. A second band of fighters turned and took a bead on the chopper, probably with a rocket- propelled grenade, and in what a U.S. official calls "a pretty lucky shot," knocked it out of the sky.
Now the four SEALs were truly alone. With night falling and the fog settling, they managed to slip through the Taliban fighters. Crawling and scrambling, they headed toward the high ridges, and the Taliban--who had them outnumbered, probably 5 to 1--gave chase.
U.S. officials say the commandos kept up a running fire fight with their pursuers for more than two miles. The known survivor recalls seeing two of his friends shot. At one point he blacked out, possibly from a mortar round landing close by. When he regained consciousness, two of his teammates--Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz, 25, and Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29--were dead, and a third had vanished in the darkness and fog. The surviving SEAL dragged himself at least another mile up into the mountains. It was there he was found four days later by Gulab the shepherd.
After taking the SEAL to Sabari-Minah, Gulab called a village council and explained that the American needed protection from Taliban hunters. It was the SEAL's good fortune that the villagers were Pashtun, who are honor-bound never to refuse sanctuary to a stranger. By then, said Gulab, "the American understood that we were trying to save him, and he relaxed a bit."
The Taliban was not so agreeable. That night the fighters sent a message to the villagers: "We want this infidel." A firm reply from the village chief, Shinah, shot back. "The American is our guest, and we won't give him up as long as there's a man or a woman left alive in our village." As a precaution, the villagers moved the injured commando out of Gulab's house and hid him in a stable overnight, until it was safe for Gulab to make the six-hour trek down to the U.S. base at Asadabad and report that the SEAL--by then the subject of an intense search--was alive. Sometime later, Gulab went back to his village and then returned to Asadabad with the commando, this time reuniting the wounded and weary SEAL with his jubilant comrades.
The relief at recovering the missing commando has been tempered by the heavy loss of American life--and the knowledge that more fighting lies ahead. The Taliban's offensive shows no sign of waning and is apparently aimed at sabotaging September's parliamentary elections. U.S. Colonel Don McGraw, director of operations of the Combined Forces Command in Kabul, says that in the chaos of Afghanistan today, it is hard to distinguish among what is the work of the Taliban, drug traffickers and criminal gangs.
It is a testament to the persistent insecurity in Afghanistan that Gulab now fears that his act of compassion may mean his death warrant. After returning the SEAL, he went back to grab his family and flee before the Taliban would come round seeking revenge. In the mountains of Kunar, fear is rising again. --With reporting by Muhib Habibi/Asadabad
Afghanistan deaths put SEALS in spotlight
Written by startribune.com/NYT
Saturday July 9, 2005
James Dao, New York Times
July 9, 2005
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. -- It was a risky maneuver: sending a slow-moving transport helicopter during daylight into rugged mountains teeming with heavily armed Taliban guerrillas. But to Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, his special operations unit had no choice.
"When we've got four SEALS on the ground, four brothers who say, 'We're under fire, we've been shot, we need help now,' we can't wait for the night," Maguire said Friday at the Naval Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach, Va., Friday, after a memorial service that drew more than 2,000 people. "The covenant we have with each other is that we will leave no man on the battlefield."
Eight members of the Navy SEALS (which stands for sea, air, land) and eight Army Special Operations soldiers died on June 28 when their helicopter was hit by a "luck shot," according to the military command in Afghanistan, and went down. They were on a mission to rescue a four-member SEAL team engaged in a firefight with Taliban insurgents; two members of that team died, a third was rescued a few days later and a fourth remains missing.
The 10 confirmed deaths made the day the deadliest in the 40-year history of the SEALS, and it has deeply shaken their community, the smallest of the military's Special Operations commands and, by many accounts, the tightest-knit and tightest-lipped of the fraternity.
There are just 2,400 active-duty members of the SEALS. Each year, only about 200 seamen pass the training program, where the drop-out rate hovers around 70 percent and the motto is "The only easy day was yesterday."
The small number in the SEALS, the harshness of their training and the fact that they operate in small teams of 14 or fewer men, often far behind enemy lines, make secrecy and camaraderie life-saving values, current and former commandos say.
Jean Paul Fontan, brother of Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan, 36, who died in the Afghan operation, said his brother did not hide the fact that he was a member of SEAL Team 10. But he would good-naturedly parry questions about his work with a joke or a Jack Nicholson imitation.
"He'd use the line from the movie 'A Few Good Men' where [Jack] Nicholson says, 'I stand on that wall providing that blanket of freedom you sleep under,' " Fontan, 37, said. "And so whoever was pushing the subject would back off."
Though Friday was a day of mourning, it was also a day of celebration for the commando who escaped alive, and a day of anxious hope for one still missing.
The wounded commando was found hiding in the woods by a villager who had followed his trail of blood, Shamsur Rahman Safi, an official in Kunar Province, said in an interview. The villager took the SEAL to his house, gave him milk and helped bandage a shrapnel wound to his leg, Safi said. Safi said he contacted U.S. forces, who retrieved the sailor the next morning.
Maguire on Friday said that the commando, whose name has not been released, traveled more than two miles through extremely mountainous terrain while firing his weapon at pursuing Taliban guerrillas before reaching safety.
The admiral also said he remained hopeful that the missing commando remained alive, though he offered no evidence to bolster his faith. And he pledged that the search would continue until the seaman is found.
"He's a SEAL," Maguire said. "So until we know otherwise, we are going to assume he is out there, and he's alive."
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