Fuller picture emerges of fatal, chaotic US-Pakistan firefight
US military on Monday released the full report about a late-November 'incident' on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, in which US forces killed 24 Pakistani troops, mistaking them for insurgents.
As US-Pakistan relations continue to deteriorate after the US military mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani military troops in late November, a new Pentagon report about the incident paints a picture of chaos on both sides and of US ground forces in Afghanistan pinned down by surprisingly accurate fire from what turned out to be Pakistani forces.Skip to next paragraph
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It also points to the emergence of a troubling trend, in which insurgents bent on defeating US and allied forces in Afghanistan disguise themselves as Pakistani military troops to move about more freely near the border – and also perhaps, senior US military officials warn, to bait US forces into behaving in a way that damages US-Pakistan relations.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Clark of the Air Forces Special Operations Command, who led the US military’s investigation of the incident along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, briefed reporters on the preliminary findings last week, but the full report was not released until Monday.
It provides new eyebrow-raising details of the cross-border “incident,” as the Pentagon report refers to it, which at times is portrayed as a harrowing battle in which US Special Forces were pinned down by Pakistani troops whom they believed to be insurgents.
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It was just after 11 p.m. on Nov. 25 that US military ground forces just inside the Afghanistan border in Kunar Province “came under fire from a heavy machine gun” from the Pakistan side, the report states. Within a few more minutes, US forces “came under accurate mortar fire.”
That’s when US troops requested a “show of force” from a fighter jet nearby. An F-15 responded 10 minutes later, “at high speed and at low altitude dispensing flares.”
As the live fire from Pakistani troops continued, US forces apparently considered leaving the area, according to the report. However, the US forces’ team leader “could not extract his troops due to continuing accurate fire.”
The report also noted that “attempts by the GF [ground forces] to move away from their positions at that time would have increased the GF exposure to, and risk from, the fires they were receiving.”
As US forces requested permission to fire back, the team leader “called his superior to verify that the fire was not coming from PAKMIL [Pakistani military] positions.” He was told it was not. US forces than fired a Hellfire missile into a bunker and shot at other “hostile personnel.”
That’s when the Pakistani military reported it was taking fire. US forces fired for a total of 45 minutes during a 90-minute period that left 24 Pakistani troops dead and 13 wounded, according to the report.