Army Ranger killed during 2018 raid was accidentally shot by Afghan commando

news

Sgt. Leandro Jasso

(U.S. Army photo)

A new report has confirmed that an Army Ranger's death during a raid in Afghanistan last November was due to friendly fire from an elite Afghan commando unit.


According to records obtained by Army Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, the shot that mortally wounded Sgt. Leandro Jasso on November 24, 2018, came from a soldier assigned to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command's Ktah Khas batallon.

On the night of Jasso's death, a joint force of Rangers and Ktah Khas soldiers were on a "time-sensitive raid" in Afghanistan's in Nimruz Province when they engaged al-Qaeda militants.

During the firefight, "a strange scene" occurred "in which the joint force tried to talk down a man in a large tree...only to find there was no man, but just clothing items and a pair of shoes hanging below the branches," according to Army Times.

When the joint force was temporarily distracted by the tree-borne rags, an actual al-Qaeda fighter opened fire on the Rangers, prompting the Ktah Khas soldiers to return fire "dangerously close to Jasso," who was mere feet from the combatant.

Less than an hour later, Jasso was pronounced dead. Another Ranger and an Afghan soldier were wounded, and the Army later announced that Maiko, the 2nd Battalion's military working dog, was also killed while distracting the enemy during the raid.

Ten enemy fighters were killed during the firefight, Army Times reports.

An initial review of his death found that Jasso was likely killed in a friendly fire incident, Resolute Support said at the time, adding that there were "no indications he was shot intentionally."

The investigating officer in the report obtained by Army Times confirmed that there was "no evidence that the KKA [Ktah Khas] soldier pre-meditatively or purposely killed Sgt. Jasso."

The investigating officer attributed Jasso's death to "hasty mission planning" and "confusion over the exact location of the fleeing male fighter and a lack of positioning and situational awareness," Army Times reports.

Soldiers with Ktah Khas had previously conducted five operations alongside the Rangers without any incidents of friendly fire.

Jasso — a 25-year-old team leader in A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment – was on his third deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed.

"Sgt. Jasso was a humble professional who placed the mission first, lived the Ranger Creed and will be deeply missed," Lt. Col. Rob McChrystal, then the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, said at the time.


The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) underway on its own power for the first time while leaving Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia (USA), on April 8, 2017. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni)

Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.

No glitches.

Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.

The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.

The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.

"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."

Read More
Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

Read More
Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

Read More
A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More
Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

Read More