WASHINGTON- Taliban fighters shot at a US helicopter head-on from nearly point-blank range, US lawmakers heard Thursday, in what was the single deadliest incident for US and NATO forces in the Afghan war.
Lawmakers were grilling US military officials over the August 6, 2011 attack on the Chinook that killed 30 Americans as it transported Navy SEAL commandos, along with other American and Afghan troops, to flush out a Taliban commander in Wardak province.
Families of some of the victims have alleged the military has not revealed all the facts of the incident, failed to punish commanders in charge of the operation and mishandled some of the remains of the dead.
They have also suspected Afghan soldiers involved in the operation could have passed word to the Taliban of the chopper’s route.
But officials sought to counter allegations that have circulated online, saying officers at the time employed the right helicopter and the right tactics and that the remains of the dead were handled with respect.
Taliban fighters atop a building near the designated landing zone fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at the chopper from nearly head-on, at a distance of less than 250 yards (meters), said Garry Reid, the Pentagon’s principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.
The close range left “the pilot no chance to perform evasive maneuvers,” Reid said.
The attack occurred when the American CH-47D Chinook with the call sign “Extortion 17” flew low into the Tangi Valley.