- - Thursday, January 7, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana Republican, has accused the Obama administration of refusing close air support in a timely manner to American special forces involved in a firefight this week in Afghanistan where one American was killed and two others wounded.

The Washington Post reports on Mr. Zinke’s comments, “There is every indication,” he said, that air support and rescue efforts were “arbitrarily delayed.”

When discussing overly restrictive rules of engagement, he said they were, “so restrictive that when a unit is pinned down available assets are not given the latitude to respond in a timely manner and it appears in this case that it cost lives.”

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, 30, of Washington State, was killed when his team came under small arms fire. An HH-60 helicopter was damaged attempting to rescue the team and another was waived off due to ground fire. Zinke, who is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, was in touch with the troops on the ground and was told the quick-reaction force was delayed by hours along with close air support sent to help the beleaguered troops. Zinke said that an AC-130 gunship was deployed to support the special forces troops, but was not allowed to fire on the enemy because of concerns of collateral damage. Instead, he said, the aircraft was only allowed to fire into a field.

Congressman Zinke has called for a Congressional hearing into the exact events that happened in Marja.


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