Two US service members killed in attack on NATO convoy in Afghanistan

By Loree Lewis   
Published
Members of the of South Dakota Army National Guard’s 1742nd Transportation Company conduct convoy operations on their way to Taron Kowt, Afghanistan during the unit’s deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Sgt. Matthew Nedved/U.S. Army National Guard/ file photo)

UPDATE: 4 August 2017, 12:37 PM EST.

The Defense Department has identified the U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan Aug. 2 as Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Ind. and Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, N.C. Both soldiers were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

END UPDATE.

WASHINGTON – Two U.S. service members were killed in an attack against a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) convoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar Wednesday, according to the Defense Department.

Four other U.S. soldiers suffered non-life threatening injuries, and are being treated at a NATO medical facility.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred near the Kandahar airport. The attack was carried out with an vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED).

The Taliban, in a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, said a suicide bomber attacked two U.S. armored vehicles, killing all 15 people on board. The Taliban routinely exaggerates the casualties they inflict and their battlefield gains.

“On behalf of the men and women of the Resolute Support Mission, I offer our deepest condolences to the families of our fallen comrades,” said Gen. John Nicholson, dual-hatted commander U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“These soldiers gave their lives in service of a mission that is critically important to the United States, our allies and partners. We will honor their sacrifice with our dedication to protect our homeland and complete the mission for which they sacrificed.”

President Donald Trump, in a meeting with his national security team at the White House, recently suggested firing Nicholson because “he is not winning the war,” NBC News reported Wednesday.

Trump reportedly is growing increasingly frustrated with the status of the conflict, and during the meeting suggested the U.S. pursue rights to Afghanistan’s extensive mineral wealth.

The Trump administration is currently weighing options to change the course of the 16-year conflict, including via a troop surge or a partial withdrawal. Nicholson in testimony before Congress six-months ago described the conflict against the Taliban as a “stalemate,” and at the time requested several thousand more troops to push the fight to favor the Afghan government and forces allied to it.

The Kandahar airport is home to a major NATO military base, where forces from the international alliance are aiding Afghan security forces in the fight against the Taliban insurgents. The U.S. and other NATO countries currently have about 13,500 troops in the country.

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