U.S. Special Forces Battalion Commander
The entire time we were [in Shawali Kowt], we had been taking intermittent fire
from across the bridge. [It was] not too accurate, but we'd been taking fire. I
don't know if the sun hit it just right or what, but we saw a cave entrance
approximately three kilometers, about two and a half kilometers to our south. A
flight of F-18s overhead had identified the cave entrance. They put the lasers
on it to guide the laser-guided munitions in there and to hit the target, hit
the cave entrance.
I watched two munitions impact on the cave entrance, so they fell a little
short. It didn't look like much damage had been caused. The Air Force
controllers, in the meantime, were talking to a B-52 overhead about using a
2,000-pound JDAM. A JDAM uses satellites to guide itself into position.
Basically, you provide grid coordinates. The satellites figure it out. It makes
its own adjustments, and it guides itself onto the target.
This is about 9 o' clock in the morning. About 9.30, as I reached down to grab
my binoculars, I'm knocked to the ground. I can't figure out exactly what had
happened. I look around and once I see the devastation, I knew that we had been
hit by a very large munition. Originally, in the initial stages, I thought it
was an R2 and it was enemy artillery. But there was no artillery in the south.
All of that was up north, fighting the Northern Alliance or the Afghan military
So it was determined in about three or four hours that we had been hit by
friendly fire. The 2000-pound JDAM had fallen approximately two kilometers
short, and had impacted on my position. At that time, two of my soldiers died
immediately and one died en route to Germany. The remainder were wounded, and a
number of Afghans were killed and wounded.
What was the situation like on the ground?
Initially, in the first few minutes, [there was] a tremendous amount of
confusion. But the Americans on the ground that were not injured fell back on
their training. First thing was [we] got communications up to notify higher
headquarters what had happened. [We] put security out to make sure security was
still in place to secure our position, then started treating the wounded.
Everybody came together.
At that time, you rely on your training. It's just ingrained in you. You've
done it over and over and over again in training scenarios. As your old
football coach or old sports coach says, "You will play as you practice." It's
exactly the same thing: You will fight as you're trained. Their training took
over. I believe to this day that the reason so many of the wounded survived was
because of the medical attention, the medical care that they received on the
Simultaneously while we're treating Americans, we're also treating the Afghans.
I was concerned that this would become a rapport issue. If they saw that we
were just treating the Americans, they could say, "Hey, the Americans are just
going to take care of themselves. They're not going to take care of us." So we
treated the Afghan wounded just as we would the Americans. They were medevaced
on the same aircraft; they were medevaced to Germany. In some cases, they were
actually sent to the States to receive more definitive care. But they were
treated just like any American soldier. In this case, they were our allies, and
in a number of cases, they were our friends. ...
And Karzai was there?
Karzai was there. Karzai was wounded. It was a very minor wound along the face.
I don't know if it was a piece of shrapnel or a piece of glass from one of the
broken windows. We immediately picked him up and moved him to higher ground,
away from the site. He set up a command post. At this time, the negotiations
for the surrender of Kandahar began in earnest.