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An American Special Forces soldier was severely wounded Thursday when his base was attacked in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, raising more to at least six the number of U.S. troops injured in combat nationwide so far this year.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. John Nicholson indicated the unidentified soldier was wounded in Sangin, an endlessly violent district within Afghanistan’s poppy heartland. Cultivated in abundance there, the lucrative crop used to make heroin has come to represent a tragic irony about America’s longest war: Poppy not only props up Afghanistan’s economy, it finances the insurgency ruthlessly seeking to undermine it.
“We have suffered casualties in Helmand in our advising capacity this year,” Nicholson said in response to questions from Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who served in Iraq with the Army National Guard. “… Overall, we’re going to work hard to keep those potential for casualties to an absolute minimum. Sadly, there’s been some recent fighting in Sangin, and we had another American Special Forces soldier severely wounded in Sangin this morning, just before I walked into the hearing.”