A US Green Beret was killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday, the 17th American to be killed in combat there this year.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, from Greenbrier, Tennessee, was killed in a small arms firefight in Wardak Province, the Pentagon announced.
Griffin, who was born in Cristobal, Panama, and joined the Army in 2004, was on his fourth combat deployment when he was killed.
“The loss of Sgt. 1st Class Griffin is felt across the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Family and the entire Special Forces community,” Col. Owen G. Ray, commander of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a statement. “He was a warrior - an accomplished, respected and loved Special Forces Soldier that will never be forgotten. We ask that you keep his Family and teammates in your thoughts and prayers.”
According to the statement from US Army Special Operations Command, Griffin was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal and Purple Heart.
Griffin is the 17th American to be killed in Afghanistan in 2019 and the second one this month. There have been more than 2,400 total deaths of US service members since the US first went into Afghanistan in October 2001.
Griffin’s death is the first American to be killed since President Donald Trump said he canceled secret talks with the Taliban that were to be held at Camp David after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.
Trump claimed that before traveling to the US, the Taliban admitted to the attack “in order to build false leverage” in negotiations. “I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” the President added at the time.
Trump said as recently as late last month that he is planning to withdraw thousands of US forces from Afghanistan but will keep 8,600 troops in the country at least for the time being. It’s not clear if his announcement regarding the canceled Camp David meeting will impact that plan.
The US currently has about 14,000 service members in Afghanistan, alongside NATO troops, helping to train and advise Afghan troops and conducting counterterrorism operations.
The Afghan government has blamed the Taliban for the canceled peace talks, saying the group’s “obstinacy to increase violence against Afghans” is the “main obstacle” to peace negotiations.
“We have consistently stressed that genuine peace is possible when the Taliban stop the killing of Afghans, embrace an inclusive ceasefire, and enter into direct negotiations with the Afghan government,” the government said in a statement.
Responding on to Trump’s decision to cancel the peace talks, the Taliban said the move “would not harm anyone else but the Americans themselves” and will show the US’ “anti-peace stance in (a) more clear way.”
However, the Taliban left the door open to future talks, saying, “By continuing the dialogue, the Islamic Emirate has proved to the world that others have imposed war on us, and if the path of dialogue is open we are committed to it.”