SEALs on rescue mission killed in Afghan crash
KABUL, Afghanistan — The 30 American service members — most of them elite Navy SEALs — who died when their helicopter was shot down had rushed to help Army Rangers who had come under fire, two U.S. officials said today.
The heavy loss shows that covert tactics carry huge risks despite the huge success of the SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden more than three months ago. Some of the SEALs who died Saturday were from the same unit that killed bin Laden, although none of the men took part in that mission.
The U.S.-led coalition plans to rely more on special operations missions as it reduces the overall number of combat troops by the end of 2014.
This weekend, the rescue team had subdued attackers who had pinned down the Rangers and were departing in their Chinook helicopter when the aircraft was apparently hit, one of the officials said.
Thirty Americans and eight Afghans were killed in the crash, making it the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. The Rangers, special operations forces who work regularly with the SEALs, secured the crash site in the Tangi Joy Zarin area of Wardak province, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southwest of Kabul, the other official said.