Officers punished for failed Afghan fight

Feb. 14, 2011 at 4:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army reprimanded officers for negligence after a mission in Afghanistan left five Americans dead, says a congressman who exposed the case.

The officers were cited for poor planning and management of a Sept. 8, 2009, operation in Ganjgal, a village near the Pakistani border, the Navy Times reported.

Three Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed after they were repeatedly denied air and artillery cover while pinned down by more than 100 attackers, Army records state. A soldier died later from his wounds.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said the Army showed him documents indicating two of the three officers cited in a joint Army-Marine investigation last year were found chiefly responsible and given reprimands that will cripple their careers.

Jones took action after survivors of the fallen troops complained that the Army would not tell them whether anyone was held accountable.

The Army declined to comment and would not name the officers, saying they are entitled to privacy unless charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They were members of Task Force Chosin, a unit of the 10th Mountain Division.

Killed in the battle were 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; Gunnery Sgts. Aaron Kenefick, 30; and Edwin Johnson, 31; and Hospitalman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, 41, died a month later in Washington.

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