FORT CARSON, Colo. —The Pentagon announcement Wednesday confirmed their worst fears — the eight American soldiers killed in a bloody weekend attack in Afghanistan were all from a single Fort Carson unit. But commanders here insisted that unit's morale is rebounding.
"They were attacked, the unit fought bravely, and in the end, they won the day," said Maj. Daniel Chandler, the rear detachment commander for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "The brave soldiers that we lost and all of the comrades that were left there, there were a lot of heroes on that day," he said.
Hundreds of insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the soldiers at two U.S. outposts in Nuristan province Saturday, causing one of the highest U.S. death tolls in Afghanistan in a single battle in more than a year.
Wednesday the Defense Department announced that all were from a Fort Carson brigade that has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fort Carson commanders offered their condolences to the soldiers' families and said that support teams have contacted them.
Corie Weathers, whose husband, Matt, is a chaplain in Afghanistan with the brigade, said her husband has told her that since the battle, "They have had moments of laughter to the point of tears in the midst of their grieving."
Weathers said her husband told her: "We are taking a moment to pause and hug each other over the loss of our brothers. However, we will be ready for the next mission at hand."
The Afghanistan war reached its eighth anniversary Wednesday as President Obama, seeking a revamped strategy for the increasingly unpopular conflict, asked for and received a personal copy of his Afghanistan commander's request for more troops before top military officials had formally reviewed it so it wouldn't be leaked to reporters.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Wednesday that the president wanted to see Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request before it was discussed in the media, as happened with McChrystal's classified assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. Last month, weeks after McChrystal submitted his largely negative opinion, it was given to the Washington Post.
That the Pentagon is suggesting the president doesn't trust parts of the military is the latest example of friction between the two institutions.