Pentagon identifies 2 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Pentagon identifies soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Copyright 2019 CNN

The Pentagon on Thursday identified the two US service members killed in Afghanistan earlier this week.

Master Sgt. Louis DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, and Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez, 35, died Wednesday as a result of “wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations,” in Faryab province, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said in a news release.

Both men, who were posthumously promoted to master sergeant, were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

DeLeon-Figueroa was from Chicopee, Massachusetts, and Gonzalez was from La Puente, California.

While details surrounding their deaths remain scarce, the news of more American deaths in Afghanistan comes as President Donald Trump continues to engage in discussions about a potential US withdrawal from the country after nearly 18 years at war.

Last week, Trump met with top national security advisers at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, to review a US-Taliban peace plan.

“We’re looking at Afghanistan. We’re talking to Afghanistan, both the government and also talking to the Taliban, having very good discussions. We’ll see what happens. … We’ll decide whether or not we’ll be staying longer or not,” he said Sunday.

That plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan — from about 14,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops — and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

Trump drew scrutiny last month after he said the US military could wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the Earth” at his command.

“I have plans on Afghanistan, that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days, and I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route,” he said at the time. “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

CNN’s Diane Ruggiero and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.