By Jim Emerson, staff writer
This week U.S. Special Operations Forces were evacuated from Marjah in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan after spending the night in a compound surrounded by Taliban forces. The previous day more than a dozen Special Operations Force soldiers were in an ongoing battle with the Taliban, resulting in the death of one American soldier and the wounding of two others.
Two HH-60 “medevac” helicopters attempted to land and extract the killed and wounded. One of the helicopter’s rotor blades hit the wall of the compound and was damaged. The second was waved off from landing due to heavy ground fire. During the firefight an AC-130 gunship was called in for air support. A team of quick responders remain in the area guarding the damaged helicopter.
In recent weeks the Taliban have surged within the Helmand Province to retake the region. U.S. and Afghan troops were in the area to counter Taliban’s plans.
In a Washington Post interview, former Navy SEAL, now Rep. Ryan Zinke (R), Montana accused the Obama administration of deliberately refusing to provide close air support in a timely manner to assist the American Special forces in ground combat against the attacking Taliban fighters. He believes that air support and rescue efforts were delayed in the Helmand Province case due to Rules of Engagement concerns about collateral damage.
Upon contacting the troops, Rep. Zinke was told that ground and air support were delayed by hours because of concerns of collateral damage. The AC-130 Gunship that was dispatched was not allowed to fire on the enemy, but ordered to direct into a field instead. The purpose was to prevent killing any additional enemy combatants. If someone in the chain of command is more concerned about criticism from the liberal media than the safety of his own troops, he needs to find another way of making a living.
The Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon were quick to deny the charges made by Congressman Zinke. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, who never served, insisted “We don’t have any indication there was any delay here” or “that there was any delay whatsoever.” He later said “every effort was made by the commanders to try to address this situation.” So who to believe: a lifelong spin doctor or the men who were engaged in the fight of their lives. Rep. Zinke is calling for a congressional hearing.
The congressman summed up Obama’s current rules of engagement, stating they are so restrictive “that when a unit is pinned down, available assets are not given the latitude to respond in a timely manner and it appears in this case that it cost lives.” Army Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, 30, of Washington State, was killed when his team was attacked by the Taliban terrorists.