- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

The United States has admitted six Afghan anti-Taliban fighters to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington who were injured by an American bomb mistakenly dropped on their position in southern Afghanistan, military officials said yesterday.
The six arrived at the hospital Saturday, marking the first time that Afghan allies in Operation Enduring Freedom were brought to this country for medical treatment.
Bill Swisher, a Walter Reed spokesman, said yesterday that the six were chosen for stateside care "because of the severity of their injuries."
He said he could not rule out that more wounded Afghans would come to the United States for medical treatment. "You never can tell what the future will bring, but right now that's all we can expect," he said.
The Afghans were injured on Dec. 5 north of Kandahar when a satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition hit the position of U.S. troops and their indigenous allies. The bomb was supposed to strike Taliban forces protecting the southern city.
The 2,000-pound bomb killed three U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. Two were members of an A-Team inserted into Afghanistan a month earlier. The third victim was assigned to a command detachment that had recently arrived in-country. A forward air controller in that detachment had called in the air strike.
The Special Forces A-Team, radio signal "Texas One Two," was working with Pashtun tribesmen commanded by Hamid Karzai, who subsequently became Afghanistan's interim leader.
The Pentagon has not yet released the results of an investigation into the "friendly fire" incident. But officials say privately they believe the wrong coordinate for the Taliban's location was radioed to the Air Force B-52 bomber overhead.
Capt. Jason Amerine, the A-Team leader, said in an interview that as many as 10 of Mr. Karzai's fighters were killed in the bombing.
"It impacted essentially right on top of some of our soldiers," said Capt. Amerine, who was wounded and evacuated out of the country. "I was 50 meters away or less. Other soldiers were under the bomb itself or about 20 meters away."
Navy Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem told reporters afterward that "calling in air strikes, nearly simultaneously on your own position on enemy forces that you're engaged in close proximity to, is a hazardous business and takes very fine control and coordination and precision."

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