Pentagon Identifies 2 American Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan | KNKX

Pentagon Identifies 2 American Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Mar 22, 2019
Originally published on March 24, 2019 6:13 am

Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET Sunday

The Pentagon on Saturday identified two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan as 29-year-old Spc. Joseph P. Collette of Lancaster, Ohio and Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colo.

The two were killed Friday in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained in combat, the Defense Department said. They were both based out of Fort Carson, Colo.

The U.S.-led NATO Resolute Support mission in the country had earlier announced the death of two service members said in a brief statement Friday.

Their names were originally withheld in order to first notify family members.

It brings the total number of U.S. service members killed this year in the country to four, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Thirteen American service members were killed last year in Afghanistan.

About 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, a number President Trump plans to cut down by about half.

U.S. representatives have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban to bring an end to America's longest war. U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in Qatar earlier this month, reaching two "draft agreements," the AP reports.

Khalilzad has said that following months of earlier talks, he reached framework agreements with the Taliban to not allow terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a location to stage attacks on the U.S. or U.S. allies. In exchange, the U.S. would agree to withdrawing forces.

The Taliban insists on a complete U.S. withdrawal, but representatives of the Afghan government want some continued U.S. presence. Ahmad Nader Nadery, who has advised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, told NPR that the government would like a "residual number" of U.S. forces present for counterterrorism operations, training and advice.

The Afghan government has been excluded from peace talks because the Taliban calls it a puppet of the U.S. government.

The Taliban has proved resurgent in recent years. A Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report in January said the Afghan government's control over territory decreased slightly while "insurgent" control increased slightly in mid-2018. The Afghan government controls or influences territory where 63.5 percent of the population lives and 53.8 percent of total districts as of October, the SIGAR report said. But a New York Times report found that the U.S. government understates the strength of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's security forces and civilians continue to bear the brunt of deaths in the war. President Ghani said in January that 45,000 members of Afghanistan's security forces have died since September 2014, a monthly average of 849. And the United Nations said 3,804 civilians died in Afghanistan last year, more "than at any time since records have been kept."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.