"We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We've lost today," Marine Maj. Kevin Williams told his translator as Afghan soldiers repeatedly asked for helicopter support.
American military trainers and the Afghan soldiers they were working with had been pinned down by intense machine gun, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire for several hours. The artillery support they had been promised was being withheld by commanders at a nearby forward operating base.
The combined force of 60 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, 20 Afghan border police, and 13 U.S. trainers set out before dawn on Sept. 8, 2009 to search the rugged Afghan village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province for weapons and to conduct a meeting with local officials. The town had just recently rejected the Taliban's authority in favor of the Afghan government. The village elders had requested that Afghan troops would conduct the sweep, and the embedded American trainers were present in case air or artillery support was required.
As the unit approached the village situated in a valley encircled by craggy mountains, the town's lights suddenly turned off – a likely sign that the mission had been compromised. Minutes later, the first shots were fired at the column, and the force was quickly enveloped with heavy machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The Americans and Afghans took cover behind rock walls, and the enemy began an attempt to flank the pinned-down unit.