|A Chinook helicopter arriving at the Provincial
Reconstruction Team (PRT) base at
Lashkar Gah in Helmand
© AFP/File John D McHugh
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The downing of a US helicopter by Afghan insurgents amounts to a “one-off” incident that will not alter US strategy or the course of the war, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.
“I would caution people against reading too much into a single combat incident,” Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.
“At this point, it’s a one-off incident.”
In the most deadly incident of the war for US and NATO forces, 30 American troops were killed Friday when their Chinook helicopter came under attack southwest of the capital Kabul. Seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter also died.
The American military, and particularly its special forces units, rely heavily on helicopters in Afghanistan due to the country’s rugged, mountainous terrain and shortage of paved roads.
“That one single incident does not represent any kind of watershed or trend,” Lapan said, when asked if US air power was jeopardized by the attack.
He also said the downing of the helicopter did not change the military’s assessment that the Taliban-led insurgency was on the defensive and under pressure.
“We still have the Taliban on the run. We’ve reversed the momentum that they had but they’re still going to inflict casualties,” he said.
The attack dealt a blow to elite US special forces, which had 25 members on board the aircraft — including 22 from the famed US Navy SEAL commandos and three from Air Force special forces.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday mourned the loss of the highly-trained troops at a ceremony in Florida marking a change in leadership at US special operations command.
Panetta vowed that the incident would only bolster America’s will to prevail against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
“We will honor the fallen by showing the world our unyielding determination to press ahead, to move forward with the hard work that must be done to protect our country,” Panetta said at the event in Tampa.
“As heavy a loss as this was, it would even be more tragic if we allowed it to derail this country from our efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda and deny them a safe-haven in Afghanistan,” he said.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license