Home » Wars » Afghan Update » Ganjgal Report Leaked (Updated)

Ganjgal Report Leaked (Updated)

by Greg on February 18, 2010

I wrote a post this morning (see below) about this op-ed in today’s New York Times that says American troops in Afghanistan are at undue risk because of ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s restrictions on the use of air strikes. McChrystal’s aim is to reduce civilian casualties which defeat the whole purpose of trying to win over a population, which is his mission.

The op-ed’s author used as an example of McChrystal’s guidance tying troops hands and leading to dead Americans the ambush of a Marine patrol in Ganjgal last September that left five Americans and eight Afghan soldiers dead. Calling it an “egregious episode of failed support,” Lara Dadkhah, the op-ed’s author, said the Marine’s request for fire support was denied because of concerns over civilian casualties. Wrong.

McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay, who was embedded with the Marine patrol in Ganjgal, got hold of the official report of the battle and it turns out incompetence among the officers present, not an inordinate concern over causing civilian casualties, is what delayed air support.

Landay writes (emphasis mine):

“The acting commander and “all commissioned staff officers” failed to “monitor a rapidly degenerating tactical situation,” the report said. That mistake “prevented timely supporting fires in the critical early phases of the operation and ensured that higher headquarters did not grasp the tactical situation.”

Only four artillery salvoes were fired in the first hour of the operation; three were ineffective and no more salvoes were authorized from 6:39 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., the report said.

One of the majors told the investigators that he denied further requests for fire support “for various reasons including: lack of situational awareness of locations of friendly elements; proximity to the village; garbled communications; or inaccurate or incomplete calls for fire.”

The inquiry, however, found that too many calls over a radio network “may account for some confusion in the conduct of fires, but in our judgment is not an adequate explanation for the complete lack of fires from 0639 until 1615.”

The report found that the failure to provide adequate artillery support wasn’t due to a tactical directive issued by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal that was designed to avert civilian casualties, as officers involved in the battle had believed.”

Landay writes that there were helicopter gunships flying nearby but that they were providing close air support to another operation.

“An unidentified officer denied requests from the battlefield to send a helicopter gunship that was minutes away because the requests weren’t sent through his brigade headquarters and the aircraft was assigned to another operation, the report said.”

Updated: The Ganjgal Report has been released and can be found here.

– Greg

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe February 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

How do you translate 'sing loi' into pashtun?

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Valcan February 18, 2010 at 9:24 pm

“An unidentified officer denied requests from the battlefield to send a helicopter gunship that was minutes away because the requests weren’t sent through his brigade headquarters and the aircraft was assigned to another operation, the report said.”

………..

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Tate February 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I read your post this morning, and I also think that Dadkhah's report is mostly bunk. However, I think we should use discretion when deciding whether or not to accept the "official report" on the matter. In the end, if the report is going to be viewed by the public, it will say exactly what the higher-ups want it to say, regardless of the actual facts. Take, for example, the report about the Ft. Hood shootings that failed to mention religious extremism as a possible reason for the attack.

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SMSgt Mac February 19, 2010 at 1:11 am

Good stuff. Thanks!

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lcdr_kent February 19, 2010 at 2:14 am

I read that the company CO & other officers were not present during the battle. Apprarently no one in the TOC knew how to do a propere "Request for Fire Support". That is something a CO should have trained every officer & senior NCO to do. Also, why wasn't at least one officer present who could take command in combat?

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Jeffery Fisk July 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

The officer was killed in the action along with heir staff Sargent and rest of their leadership. This Corporal went in and got their bodies out, but at the time he didn't know they were dead. He just assumed they were out of contact so he entered a live field of fire to regain contact, but realized the lose but still recovered the bodies. Shame this young corporal wasn't the one running the op center.

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Jon Z. July 27, 2011 at 10:20 am

Amen brother! That motivated Devil Dog is up for the Medal of Honor! Officers are like politicians! Too concerned about image instead of taking calculated risks.

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Damon July 31, 2011 at 11:30 am

lcdr_kent- are you serious? What an incredible insult to any competent enlisted man! Sgt Meyer was in a STA plt & I can promise you he knew how to conduct operations as well as coordinate fires. If you could get past the officer elitist mentality you would find the Corps is overflowing with competency. Additionally this was an ETT team, it doesnt have a typical structure.

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bacsimike February 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

The correct spelling is xinh loi, Joe.Too, the roe's are exactly what transpired to cause of our loss in V.N. (my opinion only.)

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Greg Grant February 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Tate,

Roger and point taken.

Greg

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Vstress February 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

What I’m shocked by is that nobody at any point on the other end just decided to chuck regulation to the sideline when they realised how bad the situation was becoming!

I believe that personal gain or fear of reprisal should not come into play when someone can hear something horrible playing out on the other end of a radio!

When soldiers lay down their lives at one end of the radio, other soldiers should be more willing to lay down their careers at the other.

I’m not a soldier nor in the military, but I work my hardest when designing defence products, to ensure that I can give them the best, irrelevant of my own promotion. I can’t live with the idea in my head that some equipment that isn’t properly built injures somebody or is deficient!

Why can people do the same when you can even hear what is happening, I’m surprised!

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Damon July 31, 2011 at 11:21 am

Soldiers arent Marines

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AMB September 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Damon, your comment is irrelevant. Marines are a type of soldier, when the term is used in its broad historical sense. Plus, a Soldier was involved in the battle and the Marines are now nominating him for a MoH.

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JKY September 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm

AMB, soldiers aren't Marines (and vice versa). Soldiers = Army, Marines = Marine Corps, Sailors = Navy, Airmen = Air Force. However, we are all Troops.

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Brandon February 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Sounds to me that "Officers" are the new scapegoat there is now 3 or 4 incidents of them getting the blame. Not saying that they might all acutally be at fault. But I don't thing there is such thing as coincidences.

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Damon July 31, 2011 at 11:19 am

The inability to make a decision in the Army is commonplace. This is disgusting but no surprise. The senior command to this unit was Army & their mantra isnt "how can we" but it is "find a reason to not" support.

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Mike February 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm

"proximity to the village"? Sounds like the "directive" did impact the decision making.

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Herb1949 February 19, 2010 at 11:29 pm

"One of the majors told the investigators that he denied further requests for fire support “for various reasons including: lack of situational awareness of locations of friendly elements; proximity to the village;…"

I see this as the officers trying to obey the ROE's. While they should have done more for the troops in trouble, they were trying to stay within "the spirit of the law" (ROE's).

This is once again a cover up of the failure of senior commanders (the one that issued the ROE's) to issue reasonable orders.

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Kelly July 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

How about American lives are in danger. Break away the air support that is minutes away and call in direct fire once they are on station. Any good pilot or FO can adjust their fire for effect once they get some or little guidence from ground forces on scene.

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paul Sutherland July 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

WTF why isn't someone being liable for this FBS
Semper FI marine great job!!!!

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Bob Avery July 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm

If I hear a grunt asking for close fire support, he is going to get it. I don't give a rat's a.. to close proximity to a village, You need cover fire your going to get it,

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hensen benn July 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

Hi guys. I served in kosovo conflict and after 911 in the marine corps, 3/8 Lima co. As a grunt 0331 machine gunner. I’m gratefull to read your thoughts and opinion, and for those not military that show the same respect and support. **** with if there is possible collateral damage. Our marines are in trouble, we give them what they want, and do what it takes. And who cares about our image. Remember: god , country, corps. Semper fi to all my devil dogs who has put and given their lives .

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paul cook August 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I am taken back. It is with the utmost respect for the Marine who has been nominated for the Medal of Honor. He took up where the combat command element left off. One Marine turned the tide of the entire battle, with no support other than other the support offered by other wounded Marines. It is a disgrace that the combat c0ommand element did not provide the needed arty and air support. I am proud that a living Marine is going to recieve the MOH. Semper Fidelis….Paul 3/8 Kilo Co, Beruit 1983

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Marylyn December 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

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