On 6 August 2011, a U.S. Boeing CH-47 Chinook military helicopter was shot down while transporting a quick reaction force attempting to reinforce an engaged unit of Army Rangers in Wardak province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan. The resulting crash killed all 38 people on board—25 American special operations personnel, five United States Army National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, seven Afghan commandos, and one Afghan interpreter—as well as a U.S. military working dog. It is considered the worst loss of American lives in a single incident in the Afghanistan campaign, surpassing Operation Red Wings in 2005.
On August 6, 2011 – local time, 22:9 August 5 UTC/GMT/Zulu time the helicopter was fired upon and shot down by a previously undetected group of Taliban fighters. The group fired 2-3 RPG rounds from a two-story building from a location some 220 meters south of the helicopter. The second round struck one of the three aft rotor blades of the helicopter destroying the aft rotor assembly. The helicopter crashed less than 5 seconds later, killing all 38 people on board.Some 30 seconds later one of the AH-64 Apache helicopters in the area reported: “Fallen Angel”.
Some sources state that at the time of the shoot down the two AH-64 Apache helicopters were engaged in tracking another Taliban group and were thus unable to provide surveillance (of the landing zone and infiltration route) as well as fire support to the inbound CH-47D helicopter carrying the Navy SEAL team.
The deaths included: 30
- 15 United States Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group’s Gold Squadron “Team 6”
- 7 Afghan National Army Commandos, part of Afghan National Army
- 5 U.S. Naval Special Warfare support personnel, two EOD technicians, one MWD Handler, one Cryptologic technician and one Information systems technician.
- 3 U.S. Army Reserve personnel from the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment
- 2 U.S. Navy SEALs from a west coast based SEAL team.
- 2 U.S. Army personnel from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, part of Colorado Army National Guard
- 2 U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron
- 1 U.S. Air Force Combat Controller from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron
- 1 Afghan civilian interpreter
- 1 U.S. Military Working Dog
The 30 American deaths represent the greatest loss of U.S. military lives in a single incident in the, by then, decade-long war in Afghanistan that began in 2001.
Fifteen of the Navy SEALs that were killed were members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), while the other two Navy SEALs killed in the helicopter shootdown were from an unidentified West Coast-based SEAL unit. The five other Navy casualties were NSW (Naval Special Warfare) support personnel; in addition to these, three AFSOC operators, one Combat Controller and two Pararescuemen, all members of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, died in the crash.
Their deaths are the greatest single loss of life ever suffered by the U.S. Special Operations community in the 24-year history of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
A source from the Navy’s special operations community described the reaction as, “Shock and disbelief. There’s no precedent for this. It’s the worst day in our history by a mile.”
The previous highest U.S. death toll from a single incident in the war also came from a rocket attack on a Chinook helicopter carrying Navy SEALs during Operation Red Wings on 28 June 2005. In that incident sixteen Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed and three more SEALs were killed in subsequent fighting on the ground.
Portuguese Army new Assault Rifle: SCAR-L in 5,56x45mm
On the 20th February 2019, FN Herstal was awarded a major contract for thousands of assault rifles, by NATO’s Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA) on behalf of the Portuguese Army. The contract is for the 5.56x45mm caliber FN SCAR L assault rifles. Included in this contrat, FN will also supply other guns, namely the FN40GL grenade launchers, MINIMI 5.56 and 7.62 Mk3 light and medium machine guns respectively, and the designated Marksman Rifle SCAR-H in 7,62x51mm.
The NSPA, is the main logistics and procurement agency of NATO and is able to handle and support procurement for member nations. NSPA described the contract as a ‘major milestone’ for the agency. The contract was signed by FN’s sales director and NSPA General Manager.
NSPA made a short statement:
“NSPA awarded today a contract to Belgium-based FN Herstal, one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of small caliber weapons. This is for the Agency a major contract to produce FN SCAR® assault rifles and FN MINIMI® machine guns as new standard issue weapons for the Portuguese Army’s.
The contract includes the manufacture and supply of 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO caliber FN SCAR® assault rifles, FN40GL grenade launchers, MINIMI® 5.56 and 7.62 Mk3 Tactical light machine guns, and all related accessories.
The Portuguese Army’s standard issue service rifle is currently a Portuguese license produced variant of the Heckler & Koch G3, while the MG3 and HK21 are used in the General Purpose and Light Machine Gun purpose. The exact size of this new contract and its worth have not yet been announced, but In 2017, when the program was released, the acquisition called for 11 000 assault rifles in 5.56x45mm. The value of this weapons package procurement would be €42.8 million ($50.3 million).
This is a major acquisition for the Portuguese Army as the old G3 Battle Rifles are outdated, even in its class, and are obvious not adequate for the assault role. This purchase does not only manage to replace the G3 Battle rifle with one of the best current assault rifles, if not the best, but it will allow that the Portuguese Army to change the fire dynamics of it´s small units, increasing firepower and combat capabilities and being able to have more Hit probability on the enemy.
Ansariya Ambush: Israel’s SOF Greatest Military Defeat
The 12 Israeli soldiers killed in an ambush in southern Lebanon on September 5, 1997 were betrayed by a Lebanese double agent. It was Israel’s greatest military humiliation in Lebanon since 1985 and Hezbollah’s most crushing intelligence operation ever. Even the Israeli map that led the soldiers to their deaths was allegedly drawn by the pro-Iranian militia, the Independent reported.
On September 5, 1997, the unit suffered a major blow during a raid in Lebanon. A force of sixteen Shayetet 13 commandos landed on Lebanon’s coast, south of Sidon between the towns of Loubieh and Ansariya. Speculation about their mission was that they were trying to assassinate a senior Shia Muslim cleric of the Hezbollah movement. In fact, it was this same leader – the assassination target of the Israelis – who set up what can only be described as a classic guerrilla ambush.
They landed in the dark early hours of that Friday and started moving inland. The IDF said the force had been “on its way to its mission” when it was ambushed. Hezbollah and Amal commandos were lying in wait for them. The clash took place outside a 15-km deep security zone which Israel occupied in south Lebanon. The soldiers were ambushed after entering an orchard booby-trapped with bombs, which exploded as they entered.
The IDF knew that on September 4, 1997, while the Shayetet commandos were sailing toward Lebanon, Hezbollah went radio silent. The MID estimated at the time the decision had to do with the raised level of alert in Hezbollah, which was worried about Israeli retaliation for a terror attack in Jerusalem earlier in the day, which claimed the lives of three Israelis. No one even imagined the possibility Hezbollah raised the level of alert in the organization because of an intelligence leak. Radio silence normally means the enemy was waiting, Ynetnews revealed.
“Even in a group skydive, there comes a moment when the skydivers let go of each other, and then each is left to himself, alone with the parachute.”
The commandos were knocked to the ground and came under heavy fire, killing the force’s commander, Lt. Col. Yossi Korakin almost immediately. More commandos were killed when the firing triggered the explosives one of the commandos was carrying. Israel immediately dispatched a rescue team in a CH-53 helicopter. A rescue force of helicopters and missile boats arrived, joining in a battle that lasted until dawn as the rescuers evacuated the dead. Mortar shells exploded nearby, killing a doctor in the rescue force, and shrapnel hit the CH-53, but it was able to take off.
The IDF lost twelve dead, including eleven Shayetet 13 commandos, while six Hezbollah and Amal fighters and two Lebanese soldiers were also killed. The uncollected remains of the Israeli soldiers were returned to Israel on June 25, 1998 in a prisoner exchange deal.
After 14 years, Hezbollah revealed that they knew the position of the commandos in advance thanks to the interception of video footage broadcast by Israeli UAVs that were hovering over the area in the days before the mission.
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