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The two American soldiers killed Monday by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan were a command sergeant major and a decorated paratrooper, the Defense Department announced Wednesday. They were identified as Sgt. Maj. Wardell Turner, 48, of Nanticoke, Maryland, and Spc. Joseph Riley, 27, of Grove City, Ohio.
A suicide bomber rammed the soldiers' vehicle in Kabul. Six civilians were also killed. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the second suicide vehicle bombing against coalition forces in the Afghan capital this week. On Thursday, another blast killed at least one British service member and a British embassy worker.
Monday’s bombing occurred as the Obama administration revealed it was shifting strategies in Afghanistan — choosing instead to expand combat operations after earlier declaring troops would be pulled from the war-torn country by the end of the year. Under the revised mission, the U.S. military will continue to launch air and ground combat operations against Taliban forces when they present a serious threat to the Afghan military or civilians.
Meanwhile, American combat deaths in Afghanistan have tapered off in recent months: 71 military members were killed so far this year, compared with 161 in 2013, according to iCasulaties.org. Six U.S. servicemen have been killed since the start of October.
Turner was part of the mission to train Afghanistan’s National Security Forces and served in several military police units since 1993, the Army Times reported. Riley, meanwhile, joined the Army in June 2012 and earned a number of distinctions from serving in Afghanistan, including the Bronze Star Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
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