In what became the deadliest NATO friendly-fire incident to this day in Afghanistan, five US SOF soldiers were killed alongside one ANA soldier yesterday in Southern Afghanistan.

In fact, the incident occurred in the Arghandab district, where I did some operations in 2009, while the soldiers were patrolling to secure the environment for the upcoming vote. Provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sakhi Roghlewanai confirmed that the troops were preparing to be airlifted out of the area by a helicopter, but came under RPG and small arms fire from Taliban.

The US SOF immediately called in an airstrike on the Taliban position, but the aircraft dropped the bomb directly on the Americans’ position.

Police Chief Roghlewanai also said that no Taliban casualties were caused by the airstrike, but many were killed during the day’s operation.

Many friendly-fire incidents have occurred during the Afghan War. In fact, four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight more wounded in April 2002 when a US Air National Guard dropped a 500-pound bomb on the Canadians, who were doing live-fire exercises in Southern Afghanistan.

However, this new incident is bringing more concern about the use of airstrikes on Taliban positions. It is hard to know exactly what went wrong, but in 2009 during an operation in the Arghandab district, we had to use airstrikes on multiple occasions. The terrain down there is really particular, with a lot of hills, mountains and treacherous conditions. It is possible that the pilot mistakenly identified the US SOF as the enemy due to the difficulties of a danger-close airstrike.

More than 32,000 US troops, mainly US SOF, are still on the ground in Afghanistan.

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby: