20 American Service Members Have Been Killed By Hostile Fire In Afghanistan In 2019

Dec 24, 2019
Originally published on December 24, 2019 7:24 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Sergeant First Class Mike Goble was killed by an explosion in Afghanistan this week. He was a Green Beret on his third tour in the country, and he leaves behind his partner and their young daughter. He was 33 years old. There have been 20 American service members killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan this year. Half of them were Green Berets. As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, these highly trained soldiers are often in harm's way.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Sergeant Goble was on a mission with Afghan commandos in Kunduz province in the far north of the country. They were inspecting a Taliban weapons cache when he was instantly killed by an explosion. Most of the estimated 13,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan operate out of fortified bases, training Afghan troops who are now responsible for security. But Goble and other Green Berets always scour the countryside, sweeping in after Taliban forces or ISIS fighters.

DAVE MAXWELL: They are in combat more than anyone else.

BOWMAN: Dave Maxwell is a retired Green Beret colonel. He's now a senior fellow at the think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

MAXWELL: They are outside the wire. They are the ones that are engaging - you know, helping the Afghans to engage the enemy in direct combat.

BOWMAN: So they often head to the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan like Kunduz, where another Green Beret was killed in March, or Faryab in the northwest, where three Green Berets were killed this year in Taliban attacks along with dozens of Afghan soldiers. Of the 10 Green Berets or special forces killed this year in Afghanistan, four of them were assigned to 10th Group, based at Fort Carson, Colo., which often focuses on Europe. But Green Berets all over the U.S. were pulled into deployments in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. For his part, Goble also deployed to Argentina, Guatemala and Colombia as a member of the 7th Special Forces Group out of Florida.

MAXWELL: Because the 7th Special Forces Group - their regional orientation is Latin America.

BOWMAN: The Trump administration is trying to wind down the Afghanistan War with troop reductions and Taliban peace talks, but officials want the Green Berets to remain to continue a counterterror fight.

Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.