The Pentagon on Thursday identified the two U.S. soldiers killed Wednesday in southern Afghanistan when their convoy was hit by a vehicle packed with explosives. The two men were paratroopers and on their first deployment. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Spc. Christopher M. Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, N.C., and Sgt. Jonathon M. Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Ind., were assigned to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, an Army release said. They died outside of Kandahar city and mark the eighth and ninth Americans killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan this year.
“Chris and Jon lived and died as warriors,” said Col. Toby Magsig, commander of the 82nd Airborne’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in the release. The 82nd Airborne has troops spread across Afghanistan. The paratroopers are stationed at several forward operating bases where U.S and NATO forces are located and are responsible for conducting security patrols in those areas.
Harris joined the Army in 2013 and Hunter in 2014, the release said.
“Spc. Christopher Harris was an extraordinary young man and a phenomenal Paratrooper,” Magsig added. “Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was the leader we all want to work for — strong, decisive, compassionate, and courageous. He was revered by his Paratroopers and respected throughout his unit.”
On Thursday, another soldier was killed outside Kabul and six others were wounded. Their nationality was yet to be released but news reports indicated that the troops were Americans. More than 2,000 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan since the United States invaded the country in 2001.
The flurry of attacks on Western troops comes as Washington struggles with formulating a strategy for what has become America’s longest-running war. The Pentagon was set to send up to 4,000 additional troops to help prop up the struggling Afghan army, but President Trump has balked at investing more resources into a war he said the United States was “losing,” according to an NBC News report. There are 8,500 U.S. and 5,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Trump, according to the NBC report, also said he was considering firing the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson.
Although NATO forces have been attacked in recent days, the majority of Taliban offensives have targeted Afghan forces and civilians. The Afghan security forces have suffered more than 6,000 casualties since the beginning of the year and civilians are dying in record numbers, a recent United Nations report said.