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How the Army informed family members of completed Kamdesh investigation

Friday, February 5, 2010; A04

Family members of soldiers killed in an October attack on the U.S. combat outpost in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, received this notification from the Army on Wednesday. The message was delivered in a telephone call from a casualty assistance officer, who read from the script below, and via e-mail. Army officials said the script was used to ensure accuracy.

I am contacting you to follow through on the assurance you received that the Army would do its best to keep you apprised of any significant developments concerning the investigation of the combat action at Combat Outpost (COP) Keating on October 3, 2009, that resulted in the death of [soldier's name]. Let me again express my deepest sympathy to you and your family on your tragic loss.

Immediately following the attack, General [Stanley A.] McChrystal, the Commander of United States Forces -- Afghanistan, ordered an investigation into the attack at COP Keating in order to understand the circumstances of the fight, to make recommendations to improve coalition tactics to prevent future incidents, and to make other appropriate recommendations. This investigation is now complete.

The investigation concluded that on October 3, 2009, U.S. Service members at COP Keating successfully fought off a complex attack, under heavy enemy fire from an enemy force five times larger. Members of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment repelled an enemy force of 300, killing approximately 150 enemy fighters and preserving the combat outpost. The report noted that Soldiers and junior leaders fought heroically, upheld the highest standards of the warrior ethos, and distinguished themselves with conspicuous gallantry, courage, and bravery.

The report also found that commanders must continue to assess the value and vulnerabilities of each Combat Outpost throughout the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. We must remain vigilant in evaluating intelligence about the enemy and maintaining defensive postures in a complex counterinsurgency. The report made several recommendations to improve coalition tactics and prevent similar incidents. The report also recommended administrative actions for some members of the chain-of-command to improve command oversight. Due to privacy restrictions, I am unable to provide information on the specific actions taken.

You are entitled to receive a redacted copy of this investigation and I am available to help you request a copy if you would like one. An instructional DVD was developed to better inform Soldiers of the lessons learned from the combat action at COP Keating.

We also want you to know that selected Members of Congress will receive the same information tomorrow, and that a press release will likely follow at a later date.

You continue to have my most sincere condolences and those of the United States Army for the loss of your son, [soldier's name].

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