Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Afghan Journal:
Back in 2002 during a reporting assignment in Afghanistan, a U.S. helicopter pilot told me that it was important to send a message early on that "we own the skies, night or day". So at any given point of time if you were at the Bagram air base, north of Kabul, you could see aircraft, mostly choppers taking off, landing or simply idling in the skies above in what became the region's busiest airfield.
Seven years on, the U.S. military is holding on to the skies ever more tightly as the ground below slips away to a Taliban insurgency at its fiercest level. And because they fly more and because the terrain and weather are difficult, the chances of things going wrong increase, as happened earlier this week when 14 Americans, including 11 soldiers, were killed in two separate chopper crashes.
U.S. soldiers were twice as likely to die in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan than in Iraq, Time magazine reported. It quoted Michael O' Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, who is keeping a rolling count of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, as saying that it wasn't hostile fire that was bringing down the choppers. "The main issues have to do with terrain, weather and of course frequency of use," he says.