Defense Department identifies three service members killed in IED explosion


The Pentagon has identified the two U.S. soldiers and one airman killed Tuesday by an improvised explosive device (IED) in eastern Afghanistan while supporting the U.S.-led combat mission there, Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Army Capt. Andrew Ross, 29, of Lexington, Va.; Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Wash.; and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pa., were killed Tuesday when their vehicle was struck by an IED in Andar, Ghazni Province, according to a Defense Department statement.

Ross and Emond had been assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), based in Fort Bragg, N.C., while Elchin was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Three other service members were wounded in the explosion, as was a U.S. contractor.

The incident is under investigation.

The attack — one of the deadliest this year in the country — followed the death of an Army sergeant from Washington state, who was killed by a member of Afghanistan's security forces in a suspected accidental shooting.

President Trump in recent weeks has made clear his frustration with the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, with officials speculating he will seek to remove troops from the Middle East ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Trump floated such an idea on Tuesday in an interview with The Washington Post. He said he was only keeping a military presence in Afghanistan because “experts” told him that U.S. forces were still needed there, and he cited the lower price of oil as a reason to withdraw.

“Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? One reason to is Israel,” Trump said. “Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced. So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.”

About 14,000 U.S. service members are in Afghanistan to assist Afghan security forces against the Taliban and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-aligned militants.

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