According to official reports, six American troops have been declared dead while one has survived the crash of a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk in southern Afghanistan. The names of the six dead and the lone survivor have not been announced until the filing of this report will be official. These troops were members of the NATO-lead International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. There are 84,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan including 60,000 Americans. After the proposed pull-out of the foreign forces only 10,000 strong contingent will be left in Afghanistan by 2015.
This incident took place in the remote Shahjoi district of Zabul province in southern Afghanistan. Initially it was reported that the helicopter crashed due to mechanical failure and the troops had died in this fatal accident. Later the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the Black Hawk had been shot down and the troops were killed on the ground by the Taliban. The Afghan Taliban have accepted responsibility for shooting down this low flying helicopter and for killing its occupants.
This year 109 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan while in 2012, 297 Americans were killed in the war-torn country. Seven Americans and four Afghans were killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in 2012. The largest death toll in a single incident is 38, when a helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in 2011.
It is in view of such like incidents that the Americans want Karzai to sign the Bi-lateral Security agreement (BSA). Karzai is not signing this said document which the defense analysts now refer to as basic suspicion agreement. It is important that some mutually agreed measures are put in place before the proposed pull-out of the NATO and ISAF troops from Afghanistan.
It is important for Karzai to sign this document because after the withdrawal of the foreign troops, Afghanistan would be left at the mercy of the Taliban. It is a fact that the Afghan army is no match against these battle-hardened guerrilla fighters. The Loya Jirga (parliament) has endorsed the BSA but Karzai wants some additional clauses to be inserted in the original agreement while the Americans have made clear that they are not ready to re-negotiate the deal.
The American have sought the help of Pakistan to help resolve this issue. The Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif recently visited Kabul but his efforts did not bear any fruit. It is because of this stubborn attitude of Karzai that Pentagon Chief Chuck Hagel on his surprise two-day visit to Afghanistan did not meet Karzai.
This incident goes on to show that even after 13-years of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan the NATO and ISAF forces are still not in complete control of the country. The Taliban control most of the southern Afghanistan with their head quarter at Kandahar. If there is no progress in the signing of the BSA between the Americans and the Afghan government, such incidents will continue to occur in the future as well. In addition these incidents will increase in ferocity as the NATO-lead foreign troops leave Afghanistan. This would leave Afghanistan mercy of the resurgent Taliban.
Whatever happens in the future, the present headline is that six Americans have been killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan adding to the tally of dead during the operation Enduring Freedom.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada