Ganjgal-patrol

Unfortunately Jonathan Landay got to it one day before me, so we posted his story as our morning lead this AM at Military.com, but the report on the Ganjgal deaths of three Marines, a Corpsman and later a Soldier who died from his wounds during an ambush Sept. 8 tells a disturbing tale of leaving embedded training teams hanging and offers still more questions about the restrictive ROEs now mandated by Lt. Gen. Stan McChrystal's COIN strategy.

According to a copy of the executive summary obtained by Kit Up, the 10th Mountain Division Soldiers manning the TOC at FOB Joyce "did not adequately support the mission" and reflected "an apparent lack of commitment to support partner units with the same focus and emphasis as organic units." So, in other words, the 10th guys were more willing to dive in and do all it took to help another 10th unit in contact, but didn't take the same kind of urgent action for an ETT made up of Marines, Soldiers and Afghan troops. That is disgraceful.

Second, there is a clear issue of lack of air and artillery support here that needs to be addressed not just in the context of Marjah and other high profile engagements, but particularly with "distributed" operations like the ETT, PRT and other "advisory" counterinsurgency operations the Obama strategy calls for. These hybrid units have no organic air or artillery and are usually lightly equipped and armed. They are therefore far more dependent on CAS and arty than other other kind of force and denying them cover, or waiting a long time to deliver it no matter what the risk of civilian casualties is inexcusable. These guys weren't going after HVTs, they were in the middle of a compex ambush fighting for their lives.

From the report:

The fire support NCO on duty when the action began took action to provide immediate support to the units in the Ganjgal valley early in the engagement. The USAF JTAC REDACTED acted similarly. However both were overruled by higher echelons. Both should be commended for their attempts to generate effective and timely actions.(emphasis added)

I want to know who that "higher echelon" was and want to know what responsibility those officers have taken for this jacked-up operation.

Further, how many squared away leaders are we going to convince to do this mission — of dubious career advantage, I might add — when they see examples like this where the AO command hangs them out to dry? The report states that three 10th Mountain officer were reprimanded, but it did not include the names in the released version of the report. It did say that the battalion's operations officer (S3), fire support officer (FSO) and intelligence officer (S2) "were not continuously present in the operations center" and that their "actions were inadiquate and ineffective, contributing directly to the loss of life which ensued."

Feel free to read the entire released report below…and try not to gag too much.

Ganjgal Report

One thing's for certain, the men who serve on these ETTs are putting it all on a very thin line and deserve our deep and sincere admiration. They are the ones who at the end of the day will prove decisive to victory in Afghanistan.

– Christian  

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Solomon February 18, 2010 at 9:07 am

Great assessment. This was dereliction of duty pure and simple– to think that only a letter of reprimand came out of it is stunning.

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Brandon February 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

I was assigned as Battle Captain and Battle NCO concurrently for Regimental Headquarters while serving in Iraq as an E-5 (Not kidding!). If there was a request for artillery or CAS, I was allowed to authorize it ONLY if TIC (troops in contact) was called. Division HQ mandated that they be informed of all TICs and all CAS and artillery requests. When there was a TIC, I updated our Division LNO at least once every 5 minutes until it was resolved as per SOP (which I created).

In the case of this event, the lack of officers (which are notorious for dicking things up) can't be the only reason behind this tragedy. Did they (Battalion) inform Brigade whatsoever? If so, why didn't they inform Division and demand updates to brief the CG with?

What if they did inform Brigade and, in turn, Division? This report sounds dirty to me–I've read my 15-6s and this one leaves too many questions unanswered.

On a side note, even as an E-5, I treated attachments as organics. This sort of conduct by anyone makes me sick.

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LT. Greg Miller February 18, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Even in Vietnam, when a unit was in trouble, we worried about the paper work after the fact. These so called officers should be riding a desk in Alaska, out of troops way. As a OCS officer, this makes me sad of the loss of good men and the letters that will be written.

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howard February 23, 2010 at 3:37 am

if anyone asked me i have a suggestion on how to fight this conflict that varies a ton from the way the military is now doing it.

with the advent of these neat and highly accurate GPS howitzers, the military should take every one of them into the field and deploy them in distances maybe 5 klicks less than their max range. (overlapping range fire is the key)

then, when the grunts and ground forces hit a hot spot, all they have to do is report to a local point of fire and have highly accurate and HEAVY artillery rounds put to work.

i think this would clear up a lot of the problems getting support to the fire fights and make shorter work of putting the hurt where it is needed.

this is the key point => ['...These hybrid units have no organic air or artillery and are usually lightly equipped and armed. They are therefore far more dependent on CAS and arty than other other kind of force and denying them cover, or waiting a long time to deliver it no matter what the risk of civilian casualties is inexcusable. These guys weren't going after HVTs, they were in the middle of a compex ambush fighting for their lives....']

given the risk and the missions, the military has to address the ability of the troops to cover their hinnies without negotiating every round called in.

so stupid!

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Jim Carelle February 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

As a former Marine I heard this story last September from another retired Marine friend. I was appalled and angry / pissed off that our own military support units would be so negligent in their duties that caused the deaths of our own fellow serviceman. Negligence that causes someone elses death in my world of police work is criminal, these guys would be charge with "criminal negligent homicide" and do prison time. Nothing less is right for these guys. Who in their right minds would allow our troops to sit out there yelling for help for artillery support and these army officers turned their backs on these troops and allowed them to die. Criminal action needs to be taken so this doesn't happen again to other great Marines.

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Joycesupport February 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Lets not forget that this said battalion was stretched pretty thin. They were the only battalion detached from their BCT and attached to 1ID and then 4ID 4th BDE. They supported both divisions and ETTs on all aspects they responded to OP Bari Aili when it was over run, Barge e Matal for elections and COP Keating when it was attacked and almost over run. So before fingers start being pointed take a look at the higher echelons and applaud these fine soldiers for what they did and could do.

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noseeum March 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Hey armchair quarterbacks, if you weren't there you don't know anything. Do the world a favor and stop speculating. You should be outraged, yes, but you DON'T KNOW HOW OR WHY IT HAPPENED!!! The 15-6 is legit. There's not a cover-up or a conspiracy. Nobody said:"Hm, I don't think Marines get my support today." The fact is that there is a war on and during that sort of event people tend to die. Mistakes happen. The enemy gets a vote. Pick any other handy statement you like. The facts are that people were trying to help them and mistakes were made by just a few folks in key positions at key times, but even if those mistakes had not been made, those men may not have survived. The day was that bad.

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ghost May 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

well seeing as though this was my former unit (believe me or not your choice)and i was there for that rotation, the higher up was the xo

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Mother July 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I am the Mother of one of these Marine Fallen Heroes, and I can tell you that our entire family is totally DEVESTATED!!!!! This was and is "criminal negligent homicide"!!! Criminal action does need to be taken and I see that one of the Officers was promoted from a Major to a Lt Col!!! There is a GOD in Heaven above and JUSTICE will prevail !!!!

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Mother July 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

BullS*&T,
These Marines were hung out to dry for hours, I read the 15-6 and all the statements from witnesses, how convenient that all the officers were not at their post with one getting his beauty rest, this is appauling!!!!!!! Calls for help over the radio and oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, lets not forget the call to the pilot who wanted to rescue these men and was told by 10th mountain head xo that NO we wont rescue these men!!!!!!!!! I hope you can live with the fact that you contributed heavily to the loss of human life, front line valor and one day you will stand before God !!!!!!!!!!!

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former USMC Sgt September 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This angers the f**k out of me. These Army Officers need to be given a rifle, demoted to E-1, sent on the front lines with an Infantry unit. It's absolutely ridiculous that all they recommended for was a reprimand, and i heard even that got rescinded. Very upsetting to hear that these officers can be negligent during a time of War, let good men die, and nothing happens to them. I hope they can live with the fact that they played a crucial role in their deaths. Had the officers done what they were suppose to do like… oh i dunno, be an OFFICER. These men would most likely have lived. Army, Marines, Navy or whatever… when one of us asks for support, we give it to them…. we're all on the same team

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Keith St. Clare September 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

I am a member of the American Legion and this year I did work for the VFW. I covered their annual American Pride Awards and made a commemorative video-cd. The winner of the competition was a 16 yr old young lady from a public high in a little Texas town. Her subject was the battle of Ganjgal…and Dakota Meyer in particular. As she voiced her essay…there were pauses for the gasps and occasional moans. I would be happy to send to anyone a copy of our commemorative CD/Video of the event. Just contact me at ********@***.***.

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