A retired Lieutenant Colonel and Green Beret claims that Secretary of Defense nominee retired General James Mattis hesitated to send MEDEVAC flights to rescue wounded soldiers in Afghanistan back in 2001, resulting in the soldiers succumbing to their wounds.
In a recent Facebook Post, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jason Amerine claimed “Mad Dog” Mattis -who at the time was in command of Camp Rhino- made a command decision to not send aircraft without first knowing what the situation on the ground was. At the time, Amerine and his 10-man team of Special Forces soldiers were working with local forces against the Taliban when they fell victim to aerial fratricide.
“Well, if they’ve taken fire and you can’t tell me definitively how they got all scuffed up, I’m not going to send anything until you can assure me that the situation on the ground is secure,” Mattis is quoted as saying in the book The Only Thing Worth Dying For, an account that chronicles the exploits of Amerine’s unit.
In light of Mattis’ tactical pause to assess the situation, the USAF Special Operations Command dispatched helicopters from Pakistan, which took hours to arrive and fly the wounded men to Camp Rhino. Following the USAF helicopters’ arrival at Rhino, Amerine claimed that Mattis reportedly launched helicopters of his own to assist in further evacuation, “covering our first load of wounded in dust from their rotor wash as they launched.”
In the aftermath, one American -Staff Sergeant Cody Prosser- and two Afghan soldiers died of their wounds- something Amerine thinks places the blame on Mattis’ indecisiveness.
“He was indecisive and betrayed his duty to us, leaving my men to die during the golden hour when he could have reached us,” wrote Amerine, who now is a “future of war fellow” at the New America think tank. “Cody died around the time we reached Rhino and I was told at least two Afghans died because of the delay but nobody knows for certain.”
Amerine claimed that Mattis was the only one who did not want to send help right away without first accessing the conditions on the ground.
“Every element in Afghanistan tried to help us except the closest friendly unit, commanded by Mattis,” he added in the book. “Men were ready to drive to get us or send horses from the other side of the country if that was what it took.”
Mattis spent 44 years in the US Marine Corps, developing a reputation that made him popular with troops, commanders and even foreign entities. Retiring in 2013, Mattis has recently been nominated to be Secretary of Defense under the incoming Trump administration.
While the Senate must confirm Mattis and issue a waiver (due to a rule requiring an incoming SecDef to have been out of the military for at least seven years before being able to take the position), many lawmakers -including Armed Services Committee chairman Senator John McCain- have shown their support for Mattis suggesting a quick hearing on the nomination.
According to Stars and Stripes, Amerine previously gained public eye as a whistle-blower who was recently under Army investigation (but cleared of wrongdoing) for questioning the FBI’s hostage negotiating tactics.
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Retired Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, in a Facebook post, said a delay by Mattis in sending rescue aircraft from a nearby base might have led to the deaths of Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser and at least two Afghans after they were hit by a U.S. bomb outside of Kandahar.” If General Mattis was guilty of not sending rescue aircraft, why did then-Captain Amerine comment that “Brave pilots took to the skies immediately to fly across Afghanistan in broad daylight to get us out. The doctors, nurses and technicians who cared for our wounded kept us alive. The quality of the care we received… the love and devotion showed by everyone to my wounded … will never be forgotten by my men or me. We could not have penetrated so deep behind enemy lines without faith that they would be there for us. Our faith was requited on that dark day.” (U.S ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE, FORT BRAGG, NC 28310 Release Number: 112-05 Date: 12-Dec-01)
Also, in response to the question “What happened on December 5?” during PBS interviews in July 2002, why did CAPT Amerine make the following statement?
“On the morning of December 5 … the headquarters was directing air strikes against the ridgel ine across
from us. One of the guys messed up and brought in the bomb on us. So when the bomb hit them, the last count that I got, the latest number was I lost about 27 of my guerrillas. JD AND DAN DIED INSTANTLY REALLY. CODY… LIVED FOR A WHILE, BUT THERE WASN’T ANYTHING THAT COULD BE DONE FOR HIM REALLY.”
“Mike had a major shrapnel wound to his chest that was affecting everything — his heart, his lungs. His other wrist was pretty badly injured and he had some other lacerations. … Everybody else was wounded to one extent or another. We just went to work stabilizing everybody, and it worked. I MEAN THE GUYS THAT DIED — THERE WAS NO HELPING THEM. “From the guys on my team, everybody else lived.”
Incidentally, the book “The Only Thing Worth Dying For” is mentioned twice in this article. Amerine is not the author of this book which was written by Eric Blehm and published in 2010. So, for a minimum of nine years, Amerine, who was so horrified by Mattis’ inaction, remained silent? And now, nearly fifteen years after the event, Amerine takes to Facebook to vilify Mattis?
Finally, in Amerine’s own words at the end of this article, “Cody died around the time we reached Rhino and I was told at least two Afghans died because of the delay but NOBODY KNOWS FOR CERTAIN,” he wrote.”
Please realize this post is not meant to belittle the sacrifice made by Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald “Donnie” Davis, Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel H. Petithory but rather to call attention to some “observations” made in this article. It simply questions why, if so offended, wasn;t this “event” not reported in 2001 and why, if so “unprofessional” did Amerine remain in the U.S. Army and not collects retirement pay and benefits?