Troops Killed and Wounded but We Mustn’t Call it “Combat”

Oh, the illusions we must foster when a Nobel Peace Prize winner has to pretend to have withdrawn troops from Afghanistan. CNS News reports:

A U.S. Special Operations service member was killed and two others were injured after coming under enemy fire in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Tuesday, but asked whether this meant U.S. troops were engaged in combat, a Pentagon spokesman said repeatedly that they were there in their mandated mission to “train, advise, assist” Afghan forces.

Defense officials said two HH-60 Pavehawk medevac helicopters were sent in to provide help, but one was “waved off” after coming under fire and returned safely to base. The other landed, but sustained rotor blade damage after apparently striking a wall.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, briefing reporters even as hostilities in Marjah were still reported to be underway, said he could not comment on claims by the Taliban that it had brought down the helicopter, or that it had been hit by a mortar while on the ground.

Cook was asked several times, in different ways, whether U.S. forces were in fact engaged in combat in Afghanistan, but did not answer directly.

“Could you explain the context of what’s going on in Marjah that required U.S. combat presence given that combat mission is over?” Cook was asked.

“Well as you know, we’re conducting ‘train, advise and assist’ in Helmand province,” he replied.

Cook was unable to clarify the mission involving the U.S. special operations troops and their Afghan counterparts.

Notice that he used the term: train, advise, and assist. If they are assisting Afghan forces fighting the Taliban then that is simply another word for “combat.”

[See also, “Afghanistan Forever Thanks to Barack Obama: Will We Really Be Withdrawn in 2016?“]

He went to on stress that “Afghanistan is a dangerous place” and that the “fight” was still underway in Helmand and other parts of the country.

“The U.S. forces that are there are doing what they can to provide support – training, advice, assistance to the Afghan forces as they take the lead in this fight.”

They’re in combat. Our soldiers are still dying and suffering in Afghanistan.