Before the Strike, a Dire Situation

On the day a USAF AC-130U inadvertently struck a Doctors Without Borders trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the ground forces that called for the strike had already been engaged in four days of “pretty intense combat,” and the air crew had to avoid a surface-to-air missile, the head of US Central Command said Friday. Before the strike, ground forces were running low on batteries, food, water, and ammunition, according to CENTCOM’s 700-page report on the incident. One special operator said the situation “was so dire” that they were taking other team members’ radio batteries to power the JTAC radios. Green Berets had tried to print maps before going into the city, but the printer was broken and “only printed large magenta blobs,” one soldier told investigators. “Tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of rounds were fired against us during our effort to retake the city. I don’t know how to better describe the atmospherics of the situation: How no one was killed, or even wounded, is an absolute miracle,” the soldier said. The Green Beret, whose name and rank are redacted, went on to identify two enemies of the operation: “moral cowardice” and “profound lack of strategy.” He said that while “decisive strategy is costly,” it would prevent the recurrence of a similar situation in the future. In November, then-commander of US forces in Afghanistan Army Gen. John Campbell, said the accident was “caused primarily by human error.” (Read the full report.) (Votel transcript.)