Photo Courtesy of a man on the ground involved in the conflict. This picture was of an American Flag that they raised in the compound that they fought from.
What happened, why did it take so long, why?!? The report from the US Spokesman for Troops said that two CH-47 Chinooks inserted approximately eighty Special Forces troops and Afghan Special Forces. They immediately came under heavy fire. When we read the Taliban report (as anything you read from them you must take it with a grain of salt), it reads, “we hit their helicopters with rockets and there were massive fires.” Now we know that no CH-47’s crashed so we can scratch that.
Let’s talk about the CH-47, the big birds, the WOP WOP WOPs. As these may be the biggest birds in our fleet, these guys have two engines pumping out 4,898 horsepower each. The CH-47 is one of the fastest birds in the fleet. Unknown to many, the CH-47’s is faster than then Apache. Ironically enough, AH-64 Pilots have to call over to their CH-47 counter parts and say, “SLOW DOWN we may look cool, but we can’t keep up!”
CH-47’s are also excellent climbers, and also very, very difficult to take down. I have personally seen a MH-47 brush off a hit from a RPG. Speaking to the pilot afterwards he said, “You pretty much have to thread the needle and get it inside the aircraft to get us down hard.” This is what we saw with Turbine 33 (Operation Redwings) and Extortion 17. The RPG went in between the ramp, and inside the aircraft. Their rotor system is very tough has been known to take brutal hits and keep on ticking. This is due to not having the same “tail rotor” that most are used to where you can try and hit “the pinwheel” as terrorist are taught.
Back to Marjah – the Special Forces soldiers were jumped on Infill. This is never how you want to begin an operation. As reported by other outlets, but not independently verified, the soldiers were completely surrounded and calling for QRF (Quick Reaction Force). This has caused much debate as to why the QRF did not immediately come.
Let’s break this down - The call goes out that there are TROOPS IN CONTACT and a 9-Line (MEDEVAC request) has been submitted for a CAT A (patient requiring immediate surgery) and a WIA (Wounded in Action). This gets everyone moving, from the company up to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A). When you look at the depiction of events in the movie “Lone Survivor” the QRF runs to the bird and ready to wreck shop when they get there.
By its very nature, QRF is dangerous game. You wouldn’t have been called unless there was a very serious need. The collective body of USASOC/JSOC has learned that running into a battle does not always end well (Turbine 33/Extortion 17). This hard learned tactic isn’t comforting to the unit that is in contact, but it is better than watching the QRF get shot out of the sky. We saw this in Mogadishu, which makes a bad situation infinitely worse.
Battling in Marjah, reports that have come in, and stated that the 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) on the ground worked hard and had the wounded under control. The 9-line was called in, and a short time later two UH-60’s Flown by Fox Co 1/214 MEDEVAC If you are the unit in contact or the one who is wounded, there is nothing better than hearing “Dust-Off" is in-bound.
From personal working knowledge, the Dust-off's normally fly in two’s in order to cover each other. The lead aircraft will go in and the trail will cover. In this case, the DOD reported that the lead MEDEVAC bird took heavy fire and damage to its rotor system. They were able to “land the helo without incident” as reported by the DOD.There are conflicting reports now. We reported on what the DOD reported.(source will be at the bottom of the article) We now know that the rotor clipped a building.
Breaking this down: the Dust-Offs are an excellent group. The Pilots, Crew Chiefs, are all very skilled in what they do and take what they do very very seriously have my doubts that an actual mortar hit the UH-60 Blackhawk. All my FO’s out there and my mortar teams will back me up. If a mortar had actually hit, the bird it would've it's end of the bird, not just the rotor system. I will go out on a limb and go back to what the Taliban put out in their statement. They stated, “We fired many RPG’s at their attempt to rescue them. There was a great fire ball.” Applied knowledge tells me that it was some sort of explosion near the rotor system that damaged it. It was the expert piloting of the UH-60 crew to get it set down without it being wadded up. *** New info is saying that the bird hit a building and the mortar hit after the it shut down.
Back in Marjah – The crew of the now damaged HH-60 that has one deceased soldier, one wounded and now a wounded crewmember evacuated to a compound. The QRF arrived to help secure the bird. They wanted to get the troops back to a compound where they could ride out the night according to a source reporting to FOX news. An AC-130 also arrived to cover them for the night to ensure that nothing more went down. As has been reported the HH-60 and ground force was extracted. The HH-60 was hauled out under none other than the most versatile bird in the fleet. The CH-47!
We reported on this situation based on DOD statements and Pentagon press releases. Like any situation these events are fluid. As new information came forward we were more than willing to make the appropriate changes to the article. As with ANY of our articles if changes are needed they WILL BE MADE. We would like to thank the Pilot involved in this situation that came forward and helped us get our facts straight.
I have thrown around a lot of military slang and short hand so let me be clear:
CH-47 - Regular unmodified Chinook
MH-47 - Chinook flown by the 160th SOAR
HH-60 PaveHawk – UH-60 (Blackhawk) flown by the USAF Special Operations
AH-64 - Apache Attack Helicopter
AC-130 - Hercules GunShip