Pentagon identifies two airmen killed in Afghanistan

Pentagon identifies two airmen killed in Afghanistan
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The Pentagon on Thursday announced the names of the two U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan earlier this week supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. 

Air Force Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, Ky., and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, Fla., were killed Wednesday when an individual in an Afghan military uniform opened fire on their vehicle. 

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Coalition forces returned fire and the individual, along with another person wearing an Afghan military uniform, were wounded. 

They were traveling near Camp Antonik in Helmand province, which was formerly a British airbase named Camp Bastion. 

Roland was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Sibley was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina.

The units are part of Air Force Special Operations Command. 

Afghan officials in Helmand told The New York Times on Wednesday that the troops were part of a group of Americans who had arrived in Helmand earlier in the week to help Afghan forces plan a counteroffensive against the Taliban in the Musa Qala district of Helmand. Their arrival followed a week of heavy fighting. 

Approximately 9,800 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan training and advising Afghan national security forces, as well as conducting a counterterrorism mission.

That number was originally slated to drop to approximately 5,400 by the end of this year, but that plan was revised in the face of an ongoing threat from the Taliban.

The U.S. troop presence is currently scheduled to draw down to all but an embassy security force by the end of next year, but administration officials are due to review the pace of the drawdown this fall.