U.S. Says It Killed Taliban Who Shot Down Chinook

The U.S. military says it has carried out a mission that has killed the person responsible for shooting down a Chinook helicopter and killing 30 American soldiers:

An American airstrike has killed the Taliban fighters believed responsible for shooting down a Chinook helicopter, killing 38 people including 30 American military personnel, the senior commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday.

The commander, Gen. John R. Allen of the Marines, said the military in Afghanistan had tracked the insurgents after they shot down the helicopter on Saturday, most likely with a rocket-propelled grenade.

A group of insurgents, numbering fewer than 10, were together as the location was hit by an F-16 strike, General Allen said. The airstrike occurred Sunday night into Monday, Pentagon officials said.

In a video briefing to the Pentagon from his headquarters in Kabul, General Allen said the Chinook helicopter on a weekend mission also took small arms fire as it entered the Tangi Valley in Wardak Province, just west of Kabul; an investigation has been started to determine the exact cause of the crash.


General Allen said the Taliban leader who was the target of the original mission still eludes American and allied forces; he declined to identify the Taliban leader. “We will continue to pursue that network,” he said.

The follow-up mission that killed the militants “does not ease our loss,” General Allen said.

While acknowledging that there are “challenges ahead” to the American-led mission in Afghanistan, General Allen described the shooting down of the helicopter as a single, tragic episode in a much broader campaign.

A press statement released by the military headquarters in Kabul said the airstrike killed a Taliban leader named Mullah Mohibullah, who was part of the group that shot down the helicopter and subsequently escaped.

“After an exhaustive manhunt, Special Operations forces located Mullah Mohibullah and the shooter after receiving multiple intelligence leads and tips from local citizens,” the statement said. “The two men were attempting to flee the country in order to avoid capture.”

One wonders how authorities can be sure that they got the right people, or how they’d know who specifically fired the shot that brought down the helicopter. Nonetheless, I hope its true.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. WR says:

    Oh, well, that makes our moronic presence in Afghanistan all right then. I mean, we got the bad guy. That’s got to be worth a couple trillion dollars.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    One wonders how authorities can be sure that they got the right people, or how they’d know who specifically fired the shot that brought down the helicopter. Nonetheless, I hope its true.

    The obvious answer is drones. They likely had at least one surveillance drone up over the initial fight. Then, once the Chinook was taken down, they identified the source of the fire and made it priority number one to track that group. The military would have been seriously pissed off over the shootdown, and when people like that get that pissed off, they get incredibly efficient and determined. Keep constant drone coverage on them, in shifts, until they get into a targetable area and then bring in an F-16 to send them to their 72 virgins.

    Plus, this way it shows the joint nature of our warfighting. The Rangers in the initial fight were from the Army. The SEAL Team coming in was Navy/Marines, flown by another Army crew. Now the Air Force delivers the reprisal, and was most likely operating the drones. Very tidy.


  3. JohnMcC says:

    Very tidy, Mr Tea. Except for that messy business of 30 dead Americans who would have had constant tactical air cover and an airborne FAC if they had been in VietNam.

  4. RedStateGal says:

    [Comment deleted by site owner to save the environment. Peddle your tin foil hat conspiracy theories elsewhere.]

  5. Jay Tea says:

    @JohnMcC: Just speculating, John. Just putting together several things we already know. There are a lot of drones, both surveillance and attack, over there. High-value raids almost certainly have drones on station, playing “eye in the sky.” There’s a saying that “the thing you miss is most frequently the thing that doesn’t miss you.” There was a group of bad guys that no one really paid much attention to until it took down the helicopter. At that point, they made themselves Target #1. The priority at that point was to rescue the living and recover the dead, but the drones kept an eye on them until it became possible to hit them back.

    Pure speculation, but congruent with the known facts.


  6. anjin-san says:

    We kill their guys – they kill our guys – we kill their guys…

    This is accomplishing nothing, except spending money we can’t afford and killing people. This war was necessary. 10 years ago. bin laden is dead now. Time to go home.