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Afghanistan helicopter crash: U.S. says militants involved killed in strike

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The investigation comes as the remains of the troops killed in the crash were returned Tuesday in an operation shrouded in secrecy by a Defense Department that has refused so far to release the names of the fallen and denied media coverage of the arrival at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Two C-17 aircraft carrying the remains were met by President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, and a number of other military leaders.

The investigation will review a number of basic crash questions, which will probably rule out such factors as the weather, terrain and mechanical issues, since military officials believe the helicopter was shot down. It also will look at the flight of the Chinook as it moved into the fighting zone. Chinooks are heavy cargo helicopters that do not have the agility of smaller, more maneuverable aircraft.

Pentagon decides to release names

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Wednesday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta considered the issue and decided to release the names. Lapan said the names should be made public within 24 hours.

Obama and other officials at Dover boarded the two C-17 aircraft to pay tribute to the fallen troops and then watched as 30 transfer cases draped in American flags and eight draped in Afghan flags were taken off the planes. There were several additional transfer cases on the planes, also carrying unidentified remains from the crash.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, appointed Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt to lead the investigation into the incident. Colt is deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

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