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Cablegate: Initial Report of Aircraft and Personnel Loss,

VZCZCXRO0201
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #3424/01 2991525
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261525Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2482
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003424

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INL, INL/AP,SCA,AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM PREL PINS PTER AF
SUBJECT: INITIAL REPORT OF AIRCRAFT AND PERSONNEL LOSS,
INCLUDING 10 U.S. KIA - DURING COUNTER NARCOTICS MISSION
ACTIVITIES

1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified: Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary. In the morning of October 26, during a
counternarcotics counterinsurgency operation in Badghis
Province (northeast of Heart), a U.S. military CH-47 Chinook
helicopter crashed, leading to the deaths of ten U.S.
personnel (3 DEA Special Agents and 7 U.S. Army Special
Operations Forces). The helicopter was carrying 36 personnel
(22 American, 14 Afghan National Army soldiers) at the time.
The CH-47 that crashed was one of two U.S. military
helicopters that had just conducted a joint operation
(involving DEA, the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Afghan
National Army and Counternarcotics Police-Afghanistan) at the
Darreh-ye Bazaar in Qades District of Badghis Province. Of
the 26 survivors of the crash, 13 are reported to be in
critical condition while 13 are ambulatory. Family members
of the deceased are (still) being notified. End summary.

3. (SBU) At approximately 0330 in the morning of October 26,
a U.S. military CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed following a
counternarcotics counterinsurgency nexus operation in the
Qades District of Badghis Province. The DEA and the U.S.
Army were conducting "Operation Lexington," which involved
over 100 personnel, military close-air support, Intelligence,
Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations and
aircraft; and Quick-Reaction Forces (QRF). Additionally,
"Operation Lexington" utilized helicopter assault operations,
including Afghan Forces. It was also executing Afghan search
warrants for narcotics and weapons at Darreh-ye Bazaar, a
major drug bazaar located approximately 150 kilometers
northeast of Herat in the Qades District of Badghis Province.
(Note: State Department INL helos were not involved in this
operation.) Following completion of the operation at
Darreh-ye Bazaar at approximately 2am, ground forces there
called the aircraft to extract them from the site of the
operation. Note: Surviving DEA Special Agents with the
operation reported that significant amounts of narcotics and
inprovised explosive devices were seized and destroyed at the
site.

4. (SBU) Subsequent to that, at 0330, one of the two
helicopters participating in the operation crashed. The
CH-47 contained 36 personnel (including crew) - 22 Americans
(8 DEA and 14 U.S. Army Special Forces) and 14 Afghans
(Afghan National Army). Ten Americans (3 DEA and 7 U.S. Army
Special Forces) died in the crash. No Afghans were killed in
the crash. Following the crash, all 26 survivors were
evacuated; 13 were reported as being in critical condition
while the remaining 13 were classified as walking wounded.
All 26 injured were flown by the second helicopter (which
suffered no damage) to a hospital in Herat Province; the 13
in critical condition were then transported by C-130 to a
trauma unit at Bragram Airfield north of Kabul.

5. (SBU) At this time there has been no determination as to
why the helicopter went down, and whether the reason was
mechanical failure, hostile enemy fire, or other. On-site
DEA personnel have confirmed that seven enemy forces targeted
in the operation were also killed when the helicopter crashed.

6. (SBU) DEA Assistant Regional Director, Kabul Country
Office, was notified by Carson Ullrich, team leader of the
DEA FAST team based in Kandahar, of the crash at 0430. The
operation to secure the target-site is ongoing. All reported
casualties are United States citizens, including: Air
Crewmen, U.S. Army Special Forces, and DEA Special Agents.

7. (SBU) Remains of all 10 deceased individuals will be
transported to Bagram Airfield on a C-130 aircraft. A "Ramp
Ceremony" to receive the remains will be held at Bagram in
the morning of October 27, and will be attended by Ambassador
Ricciardone and senior members of the Embassy Country Team,
including the leadership of the DEA Kabul Country Team
Office. The remains will then be transported to Dover Air
Force Base in Delaware later that day.


KABUL 00003424 002 OF 002


8. (SBU) The families of the deceased will be notified by DEA
and DOD in the morning hours (EST) of October 26.

9. (SBU) The Embassy has issued the following press guidance
in response to press inquiries that have already come in:

October 26, 2009
U.S. Embassy Statement on Helicopter Crash in Western
Afghanistan

Today the U.S. Embassy mourns the loss of three civilian
members of the Embassy community and seven members of the
U.S. military, who were killed in a helicopter crash in
western Afghanistan. The helicopter, carrying Afghan
security forces, U.S. military and U.S. civilians, crashed
for unknown reasons. Fourteen Afghan security personnel, 11
U.S. military personnel, and one American civilian were also
injured in this crash,

We wish for a speedy recovery for those injured today, and
send thoughts and sympathies to those families who lost loved
ones.


EIKENBERRY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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