This weekend, the US military released some tragic news concerning the efforts in Afghanistan.
In a statement released by the military on Saturday, it was confirmed that a US soldier lost his life in Afghanistan on Friday evening. The soldier died and six others were injured in a helicopter crash that occurred in Logar province, but was not a result of enemy action.
The soldier who was killed has been identified as Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Sims. Sims, 36, was a resident of Juneau, Alaska and a member of the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) of Joint Base Lewis-McChord — the elite unit known as Night Stalkers.
Sims’ Army career spanned more than 18 years, including numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, although it was unclear it he was piloting the helicopter that crashed this weekend. He also served as “a MH-47G pilot-in-command and company aviation safety officer” with the famed 160th SOAR regiment.
A Taliban spokesman was quick to take credit for the downed helicopter, releasing a statement that claimed it was Taliban fighters who shot down the helicopter in Karwar district. However, the claim is contradicted by both the US military and an Afghan official.
“We have full accountability of all personnel and the crash site has been secured,” the statement said, as well as confirming that the crash is still being investigated. The injured soldiers are receiving medical treatment, but there is no other information available on their conditions.
General John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support in Afghanistan, stated: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our comrade … On behalf of all of Resolute Support, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of our fallen comrade and those injured in this unfortunate event.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Salim Saleh, spokesman for governor of Logar, stated that the helicopter hit a tree shortly after takeoff and was forced to make an emergency landing. Saleh stated the helicopter was there “supporting an operation to eliminate insurgents from Karwar district.”
At one point, the US had approximately 100,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting against the Taliban. However, in 2011, the US began withdrawing troops, a move that allowed the Taliban to regroup substantially.
Afghan forces have been struggling against Taliban resurgence since the end of 2014, when US and NATO forces ended their combat mission, and transitioned to counterterrorism and support measures.
Since then, the Afghan government has been unable to defeat the Taliban, which has now overtaken most of the countryside — and almost 40 percent of the whole country.
According to the Department of Defense, the US has sustained a total of 2,216 casualties in Afghanistan as of October 27, 2017. The latest death this weekend pushes that number to 2,217. This year alone has resulted in 12 casualties in Afghanistan.
More than 11,000 troops still remain in Afghanistan, comprising training and counterterrorism operations.
The men and women who are still deployed overseas in combat roles must not be forgotten — they still need our prayers and support as they continue their crucial missions to eradicate terrorism.