The cause of a fatal Oct. 2 C-130J crash in Afghanistan is not known, but “enemy fire is not suspected as a factor,” according to an Air Forces Central Command release. Six airmen, five civilian contractors, and several Afghans were killed when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan. A Pentagon official could not confirm the number of Afghans killed, noting the accident remains under investigation, but he did say the Afghans “were not in the aircraft” at the time of the crash. “While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, this is a reminder of the risks that our men and women face serving their country in remote places all over the world,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter in an Oct. 2 statement. President Obama said “their willingness to serve so selflessly will not be forgotten.” Both leaders offered condolences to the families of those killed. Carter said the US and coalition partners “remain committed” to “helping the people of Afghanistan build a secure and peaceful country.” Brig. Gen. Dave Julazadeh, commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, to which the airmen were assigned, said, “There are no words that truly express the depths of sorrow and pain we feel for the loss these airmen and civilians who were contributing to a free and stable Afghanistan.” (Hanscom release.) (Dyess release.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.