Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — More than two dozen American troops are believed to have died in the deadly helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, a U.S. military official told CNN.
Many, if not all, were special operations forces, the official said. If the numbers are confirmed, the incident would be the most deadly for coalition forces in the Afghan war, according to a CNN count of international troop deaths.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement saying as many as 31 U.S. special forces and seven Afghans were killed and offered “deep regret” to U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Taliban claimed militants downed the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade. Mohammad Hazrat Janan, head of the provincial council said Tangi village elders reported that insurgents shot at the craft when it was flying back from an operation.
The incident took place in the eastern province of Wardak, an area rife with insurgent activity. There has been a swell of recent attacks in the country’s southern and eastern provinces.
As some of you may know, Wardak was my company’s AO as well as rotating duties in Ghazni. Wardak is not a nice place. Every time we rolled into a village it felt like we were a bunch of black guys rolling into one of the less civilized towns in the deep south during the 1950′s in order to build their schools, clinics, and water wells and then the mayor would say “well, of course there’s no KKK activity here” with a wry look that made you want to slap the beard of his lying face. The whole province is bad guy central. The worst part of it wasn’t the fighting; it was the waiting for the bullshit to happen because the Taliban and al Qaeda were and still are cowards and they would immediately hide amongst the civilian population right after they hit you. These are the kind of scumbags that we’re dealing with over there. Oh, and did I mention the police out there were dirty, too? They are. They were when I was there and considering that the situation has deteriorated since I left, the police have probably gotten worse.
As we draw down forces in Afghanistan and turn over security duties to the locals, you can expect this kind of nip and run attack profile to become more and more prolific. The Afghans are famous for this kind of thing when they haven’t been sufficiently brought to heel by whatever army happens to be there at the time. It happened with the British, it happened with the Russians, and now I think it will start happening with us because we didn’t give them sufficient motivation not to do so and the Pashtuns which represent a sizable chunk of them can be a petty and vengeful lot when they deem that the Pashtunwali (the Pashtun code of conduct) has been violated. This nipping action didn’t happen with Alexander the Great nor did it happen with Ghengis Khan and it hppened infrequently with the Parthians, Sythians, Selucids, Persians, Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Sassanids, and White Huns because they showed that they just didn’t give shit and if you screwed with them they would literally decimate populations and that kind of thing really does get peoples’ attention regardless of their ideology. I am not suggesting that we wipe out 90% of the population by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that as we leave we need to demonstrate that we won’t tolerate any of this kind of thing by the most decisive and violent methods and means available to us. I don’t mean unjustifiable violence, but something more akin to an incremental measured response or what Sean Connery would call the “Chicago Way”:
Yeah, just like that.