The story is plagued with scandalous decisions and violations of established U.S. policy that make no sense. Intel received early that morning from drones showed large numbers of heavily armed jihadists walked into Ganjgal from Pakistan. But the soldiers and Marines, somehow, were not notified, and they walked into a brutal, deadly attack.
Marine Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer, and Army Captain Will Swenson, along with Afghan soldiers, worked together to save as many as they could, and as a result Meyer and Swenson were awarded the Medal of Honor.
The book Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War by Dakota Meyer and Bing West, reveals the dangerous refusal of officers responsible for aiding the men who fought and died alone.
- They were denied critical intelligence.
- They were denied air support.
- Two pilots who tried to respond anyway were turned back.
- They were denied artillery.
- Calls for assistance were met with the question, "Are you Marines or Army?" when it made no difference at all.
- The U.S. State Dept. was in Ganjgal one day before the ambush meeting with village elders. What spared them from a deadly ambush?
- Their Operation Center staff was replaced that morning.
- Vehicles with defensive guns were parked a mile away.
- There was no QRF (Quick Reaction Force) to aid the fallen Marines.
- Special Forces soldiers at Camp Joyce were physically restrained from aiding the Marines.
- The primary Marine gunner, Dakota Meyer, was kept back with the vehicles, a mile from Ganjgal.
- "This is Highlander 6," he screamed. "Heavy enemy fire. Request immediate suppression. Fire KE 3354. Will adjust. And get that air in here!" Fifty meters behind Swenson, Army Captain Raymond Kaplan, the 1-32 intelligence officer, took up the cause, yelling over his radio that KE 3365 was the proper target. "Fire. Fire, g--d-----. Smoke. Smoke." Kaplan sent the message seven times. Everyone was trying to talk over the same frequency, cutting each other off in mid-sentence. Kaplan was sure his requests were heard loud and clear. "The TOC (tactical operations center) won't clear a mission." Kaplan radioed to Swenson, "The f----- won't shoot the arty."
"The investigation concluded that appropriate personnel were not involved with the critical pre-mission planning of fire and air support. This, coupled with the severity of the situation, resulted in a delay in receiving timely support.
"Based on the recommendations in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, CJTF-82 commanding general, took appropriate action regarding all personnel involved. Scaparrotti also issued guidance to the senior leadership throughout Regional Command East to ensure the lessons learned from the investigation findings and recommendations were incorporated into current practices to prevent or mitigate future incidents."
Yet the Army reported that commanders behind the failed mission received reprimands. Evidence indicates otherwise. For example, Major Peter Granger, who was blamed for what went wrong, was reportedly sanctioned, and yet in reality he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of a military readiness project.
The U.S. government is repeating in Afghanistan, the same mistakes it made during the Vietnam War. No lessons learned, the failure to absorb and correct strategic errors is costly. Sending forces into Ganjgal village is something the Soviets learned not to do during their ten-year war there, the forces in Afghanistan.
One of the Marines killed that day, Staff Sergeant Aaron Kenefick, had twice been named "Marine of the Year". He worked in highly classified information as an aid to former Army General Mark Kimmitt. Those who worked with Kimmitt and Kenefick believe Kenefick's existence was a continual threat to General Kimmitt, who arranged for Kenefick to rotate to Afghansitan in 2009. He died six weeks later in this bizarre ambush at Ganjgal.