On November 2018, a Ranger was killed during a raid against al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Leandro Jasso, a team leader serving at the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was mortally wounded during room-clearing operations in the Kash Rod district, Nimruz province.
At the time of the incident, the Army had announced that Sgt. Jasso had been wounded by small-arms fire while conducting combat operations. He received immediate medical attention on the ground and was evacuated to a coalition hospital only to expire soon thereafter. Almost immediately after the Pentagon’s announcement of Sgt. Jasso’s death, rumors of a Green-on-Blue incident flared up.
Now, almost a year after that fateful night, an internal investigation substantiates these rumors. According to an Army report obtained by the Army Times under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Sgt. Jasso was killed by a friendly Afghan commando, who was a member of the elite Ktah Khas (KKA) battalion.
The investigative officer concluded that “there is no evidence that the KKA soldier pre-meditatively or purposely killed Sgt. Jasso and there is no evidence specifically indicating which KKA soldier shot Sgt. Jasso.” The report also adds that the KKA soldiers denied shooting the Ranger Team Leader despite the fact that a green-tipped 5.56mm bullet was pulled from Sgt. Jasso’s body – during that operation, only KKA commandos carried green-tipped 5.56mm ammunition.
Other than the unfortunate death of Sgt. Jasso, the incident raises questions about the capabilities of the Afghan SOF to shoulder the burden as coalition forces prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country after almost two decades of war.
But what exactly is the Ktah Khas? An operation that took place more than a year before Sgt Jasso’s death sheds some light on the shadowy unit.
On April 26-27, 2017, a combined American-Afghan Special Operations force conducted a direct action raid against an ISIS High-Value Target (HVT) in the Mohmand Valley, Nangarhar Province. The combined SOF force included Rangers and some Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) elements and Afghan commandos from the Ktah Khas battalion. The raid was a success, resulting in the deaths of a number of ISIS HVTs and foot soldiers.
At the time, Captain Jeff Davis, (U.S. Navy), a Pentagon representative, had said in a press statement that “U.S. Special Operations forces killed several senior ISIS-K leaders along with about 35 ISIS operatives, which should significantly degrade ISIS-K operations and help to destroy the ISIS-K affiliate that’s there.”
What he didn’t say, however, is that the Afghan partner force came from the Ktah Khas.
Rumoured to be the “Tier One” SOF unit of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Ktah Khas is a national-level asset reserved only for the more important and complex missions. Its creation and employment is a direct result of the political necessity to put an Afghan face on the war. A few years ago, American and coalition SOF had begun to upset some people in the Afghan government over their continuous night raids, which often resulted in “civilian” casualties – in Afghanistan, if a terrorist or Taliban throws down his weapon, he’s considered a civilian, according to the Rules of Engagement (ROEs), thereby making the coalition warfighters’ task that much more difficult.