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Petraeus orders new investigation into Wanat

Sep. 30, 2009 - 09:31PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 30, 2009 - 09:31PM  |  
Soldiers were abmushed in the village of Wanat, set in the rugged terrain of a remote river valley in eastern Afghanistan.
Soldiers were abmushed in the village of Wanat, set in the rugged terrain of a remote river valley in eastern Afghanistan. (Courtesy of 173rd ABCT soldiers)
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The head of Central Command has appointed a three-star Marine general to conduct a second investigation into the July 13, 2008, battle in Wanat, Afghanistan, that killed nine soldiers and wounded 27 others.

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The head of Central Command has appointed a three-star Marine general to conduct a second investigation into the July 13, 2008, battle in Wanat, Afghanistan, that killed nine soldiers and wounded 27 others.

The investigation, ordered by Gen. David Petraeus, will address issues that have arisen since the completion of the Army's AR 15-6 investigation, according to a statement released Wednesday by CentCom.

"We believe that there was some information that just wasn't as thorough as we expected, that it didn't cover all the details that led up to the events of the 13th," said Bob Prucha, a CentCom spokesman.

Prucha declined to provide additional details, but a statement from the office of Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said Webb on July 9 called for an investigation into the battle after "allegations of negligence at senior levels in the chain of command were brought to my attention."

"For these reasons, a more thorough and independent investigation is necessary to establish the facts, resolve any question of command accountability and determine if there are lessons for future operations in Afghanistan," Webb said.

Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, will lead the investigation. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, former commander of the 10th Mountain Division, is the deputy investigative officer, Prucha said.

On July 13, 2008, near the end of their 15-month deployment, soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, were attacked in the rugged Waygul Valley in Afghanistan's Konar province.

More than 200 enemy fighters swarmed the soldiers' small, remote combat outpost near the village of Wanat, and the fierce battle with the larger, well-organized enemy force killed nine paratroopers and wounded 27.

Apart from helicopter crashes, it was the single deadliest attack since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

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