Most Recent American KIA In Afghanistan Reflects Military’s Evolving Mission

Analysis
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Cribben died Nov. 4 from wounds sustained during combat operations in Logar province, Afghanistan. Cribben was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group.
Army photo

The Department of Defense has identified the Army Green Beret killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 4 as Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Cribben, a 33-year-old senior communications sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion 10th Special Forces Group out of Fort Carson, Colorado.


Cribben died of wounds sustained while conducting operations in Logar province, Army Times reports, bringing the total number of troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 13. Of those, 11 were killed in combat. The incident is currently under investigation.

This year has seen a slight increase in U.S. casualties in Afghanistan from 2016, during which a total of 9 American service members died as a result of hostile actions. There were 10 U.S. KIAs in the country in 2015, 6 of whom were killed on Dec. 21 in the district of Bagram by a single suicide bomber. Now in its 16th year, the Afghan War has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 American service members, according to the website iCasualties, which tracks U.S. casualties of the War on Terror.    

The locations of U.S. casualties in recent years reflect the shifting focus of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, as special operations troops more aggressively pursue ISIS targets in the country’s east while conventional forces continue training and advising Afghan national army soldiers to combat a resurgent Taliban elsewhere. For example, Logar, where Cribben was killed, is about 50 miles south of Kabul, suggesting that the Pentagon is following through with its plan to embed U.S. forces closer to the front lines.   

It also seems that offensive operations are becoming increasingly concentrated in fewer areas. In 2016, troop fatalities occurred throughout the country, in the provinces of Kunduz, Nangarhar, Helmand, Parwan, Kandahar, and Kabul. This year, seven U.S. service members were killed in Nangarhar, an ISIS stronghold, alone. Two others were killed in Kandahar, and another in Helmand. Cribben is the first American to die in combat in Logar since the spring of 2014.

The Taliban has flourished since NATO combat mission officially ended in Afghanistan in late 2014, seizing huge swaths of the country and inflicting massive casualties on both Afghan national forces and the civilian population. And in August, amid reports from Pentagon officials that the Afghan War had reached a stalemate, President Donald Trump announced that the military was again ramping up operations against insurgent forces in the country, including ISIS, which established a foothold in Nangarhar in early 2015.

“We are not nation building again,” Trump told a large military audience at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia in August. “We are killing terrorists.”

The president also vowed to “lift restrictions and expand authorities” for troops  as their numbers in the country increased by several thousand.  As The New York Times noted in late October, there are currently 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan — officially. However, the unofficial account might be closer to 12,000.       

As a Special Forces soldier, Cribben may not have been included in that official count. A native of Rawlins, Wyoming, Cribben enlisted in the Army in 2002 and served as a military police officer until attending Special Forces Assessment and Selection course November 2011, according to Army Times.

He graduated from the Special Forces  Qualification Course in December 2014, and was on his third combat deployment when he died. His previous tours — to Afghanistan in 2006 and Iraq in 2007 — were as an MP.   

“On behalf of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, we offer our deepest condolences to the family of our fallen brother,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said in a statement. “Despite this tragic event, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the Afghan people and to support them in our mutual fight against terrorism.”

It has been a deadly year for Green Berets, with every active-duty Special Forces Group losing a valued soldier in Afghanistan or Syria.

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat.

In Afghanistan, Army special operators account for 10 of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Of the other two soldiers, one was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and the other was a Ranger.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Documents from the Pentagon show that "far more taxpayer funds" were spent by the U.S. military on overnight stays at a Trump resort in Scotland than previously known, two Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday, as they demanded more evidence from the Defense Department as part of their investigation.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the heads of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee and one of it subcommittees said that while initial reports indicated that only one U.S. military crew had stayed at President Donald Trump's Turnberry resort southeast of Glasgow, the Pentagon had now turned over data indicating "more than three dozen separate stays" since Trump moved into the White House.

Read More Show Less
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley from 1979's 'Alien' (20th Century Fox)

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

QUANTICO, Va. -- Marines who spend much of their day lifting hefty ammunition or moving pallets full of gear could soon get a helping hand.

The Marine Corps is close to signing a deal to test an exoskeleton prototype that can help a single person move as much as several leathernecks combined.

Read More Show Less
NEC Corp.'s machine with propellers hovers at the company's facility in Abiko near Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. The Japanese electronics maker showed a "flying car," a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute. (Associated Press/Koji Sasahara

'Agility Prime' sounds like a revolutionary new video streaming service, or a parkour-themed workout regimen, or Transformers-inspired niche porno venture.

But no, it's the name of the Air Force's nascent effort to replace the V-22 Osprey with a militarized flying car — and it's set to take off sooner than you think.

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

Task & Purpose is looking for a dynamic social media editor to join our team.

Our ideal candidate is an enthusiastic self-starter who can handle a variety of tasks without breaking a sweat. He or she will own our brand's social coverage while working full-time alongside our team of journalists and video producers, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (feed, stories, and IGTV), YouTube, and elsewhere.

Read More Show Less