Military Launches Investigation Into Deaths of Army Rangers, Citing Potential Friendly Fire

(The Washington Post) -
Army, military, death, friendly fire, Afghanistan

The Army has launched an investigation into the deaths of two elite Army Rangers in Afghanistan early Thursday, saying that they may have been killed in a friendly-fire incident during a three-hour firefight with Islamic State terrorists.

Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, died during a nighttime raid in Nangarhar province, the Pentagon said Friday. They were members of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, a force that specializes in raid operations.

U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a statement Friday that the operation began about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, and included two platoons of Rangers and a similar number of Afghan commandos. They came under fire within minutes of their helicopters landing from “multiple directions and well-prepared fighting positions.”

U.S. and Afghan forces nonetheless closed on their targets and killed several high-level leaders from the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan and up to 35 fighters, U.S. military officials said.

“Based on reports from forces on the ground, the engagement was close-quarters from multiple compounds,” the U.S. military’s statement said. “Air strikes were used in self-defense to enable our operations and to medically evacuate the wounded Rangers. We do not have any indication there were civilian casualties as a result of this operation.”