A retired Lieutenant Colonel and Green Beret claims that Secretary of Defense nominee retired General James Mattis hesitated to send MEDEVAC flights to rescue wounded soldiers in Afghanistan back in 2001, resulting in the soldiers succumbing to their wounds.
In a recent Facebook Post, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jason Amerine claimed “Mad Dog” Mattis -who at the time was in command of Camp Rhino- made a command decision to not send aircraft without first knowing what the situation on the ground was. At the time, Amerine and his 10-man team of Special Forces soldiers were working with local forces against the Taliban when they fell victim to aerial fratricide.
“Well, if they’ve taken fire and you can’t tell me definitively how they got all scuffed up, I’m not going to send anything until you can assure me that the situation on the ground is secure,” Mattis is quoted as saying in the book The Only Thing Worth Dying For, an account that chronicles the exploits of Amerine’s unit.
In light of Mattis’ tactical pause to assess the situation, the USAF Special Operations Command dispatched helicopters from Pakistan, which took hours to arrive and fly the wounded men to Camp Rhino. Following the USAF helicopters’ arrival at Rhino, Amerine claimed that Mattis reportedly launched helicopters of his own to assist in further evacuation, “covering our first load of wounded in dust from their rotor wash as they launched.”
In the aftermath, one American -Staff Sergeant Cody Prosser- and two Afghan soldiers died of their wounds- something Amerine thinks places the blame on Mattis’ indecisiveness.
“He was indecisive and betrayed his duty to us, leaving my men to die during the golden hour when he could have reached us,” wrote Amerine, who now is a “future of war fellow” at the New America think tank. “Cody died around the time we reached Rhino and I was told at least two Afghans died because of the delay but nobody knows for certain.”
Amerine claimed that Mattis was the only one who did not want to send help right away without first accessing the conditions on the ground.
“Every element in Afghanistan tried to help us except the closest friendly unit, commanded by Mattis,” he added in the book. “Men were ready to drive to get us or send horses from the other side of the country if that was what it took.”
Mattis spent 44 years in the US Marine Corps, developing a reputation that made him popular with troops, commanders and even foreign entities. Retiring in 2013, Mattis has recently been nominated to be Secretary of Defense under the incoming Trump administration.
While the Senate must confirm Mattis and issue a waiver (due to a rule requiring an incoming SecDef to have been out of the military for at least seven years before being able to take the position), many lawmakers -including Armed Services Committee chairman Senator John McCain- have shown their support for Mattis suggesting a quick hearing on the nomination.
According to Stars and Stripes, Amerine previously gained public eye as a whistle-blower who was recently under Army investigation (but cleared of wrongdoing) for questioning the FBI’s hostage negotiating tactics.
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