GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke is demanding answers about the death of a veteran Green Beret in Afghanistan amid speculation that delayed backup — and the Obama administration's strict rules of engagement — are to blame.
Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, 30, of Des Moines, Iowa, was on his third combat tour when he was killed Tuesday in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, says he's concerned the delayed response of air support and a "quick reaction force" team were due to bureaucratic hurdles and restrictive rules of engagement, The Hill reports
"I've commanded some of the finest special forces our nation has seen, and to think that these guys were abandoned by Washington while they were under fire is unthinkable and frankly against everything the U.S. military stands for," the Montana lawmaker said, according to The Hill.
"If there was a decision to delay the [quick response force] or call off air strikes on enemy combatants after the ground commanders ordered it, that is a clear dereliction of duty."
Zinke has been an ardent critic of restrictive rules of engagement and using Special Forces without sufficient support, The Hill notes.
"Despite the fact the Obama Administration continually says we are not in combat in Afghanistan, it is very clear we are. Suicide bombers killed our troops in December
and now another soldier has fallen this week," Zinke said, The Hill reports.
Citing a blog
maintained by former members of the special operations community, a team was standing by and ready to aid the pinned-down team, but their command would not let them leave their base, "insisting that they wait for the next period of darkness."
The blog reported the soldiers' command would not authorize air support from an AC-130 gunship circling overhead, due to fears of collateral damage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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