The Department of Defence (DoD) released the names of the two Special Forces operators who were killed in action in Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 21.
Master Sergeant Luis Deleon-Figueroa and Master Sergeant Jose Gonzalez were killed while conducting combat operations in the Faryab province of Afghanistan. According to a Pentagon statement, the two Special Forces operators were killed by small-arms fire. The DoD, however, is still investigating the case to determine if the incident was caused by enemy fighters or by Afghan allies.
Both Green Berets were assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), which is based in Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. They were posthumously promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant.
During his Special Forces career, MSG Deleon-Figueroa served as a Communications Sergeant (18E) and Operations and Intelligence Sergeant (18F). MSG Gonzalez’s family has requested that no information about him is released.
The deaths come almost a month after the previous fatal incident involving U.S. forces. On July 29, two American paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were killed by small-arms fire in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province. On July 13, another Special Forces operator, Sergeant Major James Sartor, who was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was also killed in the Faryab province.
Colonel John Sannes, the commander of the 7th SFG (A), said in a press statement released by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) that “it was an honor having them serve within the ranks of 7th SFG (A). They were a part of our family, and will not be forgotten.”
The latest two casualties bring the tally of fatally wounded Americans to 14 for 2019. An additional 85 U.S. troops have been wounded. The majority of the dead have been Special Operations troops, delineating SOCOM’s disproportionate for its size role on the country’s conflicts.
“Our priority is to now provide the best possible care to the families of our fallen warriors,” added Col. Sannes. “We ask that you keep their families and teammates in your thoughts and prayers.”
As of now, there are approximately 14,000 American troops deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. (Operation Enduring Freedom, the initial title for the Afghanistan campaign, was changed to the current in 2015 to synchronise with a significant troop withdrawal.) Their mission is two-pronged: First, conduct counterterrorism operations against Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida terrorists in the country; and second, train, advise, and support the Afghan Security Forces in their struggle against the Taliban and terrorist groups.