Nightly News | August 09, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And this, of course, was a demoralizing, crushing blow to all of us. Retired four-star US Army General Barry McCaffrey is with us here in the studio, a 32-year Army veteran, including four combat terms. General , talk about these men. What kinds of men would have been on a mission like this, estimated six to 10 similar extraction missions going on every night while we sit here.
General BARRY McCAFFREY, Retired (NBC News Military Analyst): Well, clearly that Special Ops community has carried a disproportionate burden. Put it in context, too, Brian , these are 15,000 killed and wounded darn near so far in the war in Afghanistan , so there's a real fight going on. The tier one JSOC Special Ops , which is a Ranger Regiment Delta from the Army and these Navy SEALs and the 160th Aviation Regiment , are the premiere fighting force on the face of the Earth . So when their buddies were in trouble, they were ready to lay down their lives to rescue their friends.
WILLIAMS: Let's talk about the mission, the equipment, the tactics. You've flown in thousands of these Chinook dual rotor helicopters. I've flown in far fewer. The air frame was introduced in 1958 . They're really used as flying buses in both of these war.
Gen. McCAFFREY: Mm-hmm.
WILLIAMS: They were sending, in this case, as you say, our top tier warriors. And should anything about the practice be reviewed?
Gen. McCAFFREY: Well, I'm sure we'll do an after action review. We'll try and sort out the tactics of it. Why did we have a Ranger unit in trouble without a reaction force that could get in an offset from the ground attack? Where were the Apache helicopters? Where were the AC-130s ? The central story, of course, is one of sacrifice and courage. That CH-47 , the new F and G models, particularly the ones flown by special aviation, the 160th stationed at Fort Campbell , are the best aircraft on the face of the Earth for high altitudes. So they're really the aircraft of choice on many of these missions. But as they come in, RPG-7s , 1960's technology, got a range of 950 meters. And we keep calling it a lucky shot. That wasn't a lucky shot. They barrage fire these RPGs , or they use heavy machine guns , .51-cal Soviet machine guns . I've been on CH-47 hit by a machine gun , it'll bring you down. So again, it's a tough situation. We're going to have to rethink the tactics of these operations because the Taliban , there's no question, are ferocious fighters.
WILLIAMS: We've lost a lot of our treasure here. General , thank you so much , as always, for coming and talking to us.