White House, Pentagon in shock over helicopter crash
WASHINGTON (PAN): The White House and the Pentagon on Thursday expressed deep shock and concern over a NATO helicopter crash that killed nearly a dozen soldiers, including Americans, in southern Afghanistan.
The alliance said the crash, which was also confirmed by the Kandahar governor’s spokesman, resulted in the deaths of four ISAF soldiers, as many US military officials, three members of Afghan forces and one Afghan civilian interpreter.
“ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) did announce that an ISAF helicopter crashed today (Thursday) in southern Afghanistan, killing seven American service members, three Afghan security forces and one Afghan civilian interpreter,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
“Based on my information, as of this time, the cause of that crash is still under investigation. But of course, our thoughts and prayers are with those American and Afghan families who lost loved ones in that incident,” he said in response to a question on the crash.
“More broadly, on the matter of what's called green-on- blue incidents, there's no question that these incidents are deeply concerning, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones in those incidents,” he said.
“You've heard General (Martin) Dempsey (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and (the Defense) Secretary (Leon) Panetta speak in some detail this week about the steps ISAF is taking in Afghanistan to ensure our military service members are as safe as possible. And ISAF is continuously assessing and refining procedures in force protection so that we can both meet mission requirements and ensure the safety of our forces,” he said.
Carney said the US’s relationship with its Afghan partners is strong and that every day its forces fight alongside Afghan forces. “There are now about 350,000 Afghan forces and we partner with those Afghan forces on 90 percent of operations. Whenever there's a so-called green-on-blue incident, it is concerning. And the fact that there have been the number of incidents that you mentioned is deeply concerning. It is also important to put it in perspective,” he said.
“More broadly, the President's policy in Afghanistan was, after his review, predicated on the principle that our principal goal for being there is to go after al-Qaida, to eliminate al-Qaida and those who've threatened the United States from the Af-Pak region,” he said.
“In the service of that overarching goal, we have helped build up Afghan security forces, helped stabilize portions of the country, and we are in the process of drawing down our forces as we turn over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces,” Carney said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that it was deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan today.
“The incident is being investigated. We are obviously deeply saddened by the loss of lives,” the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters during an off camera news conference. He was responding to questions on the helicopter crash that killed about a dozen personnel including those from Afghanistan and the United States.
The Taliban have asserted responsibility for shooting down the helicopter.
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