An American service member was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sunday, just two days before Christmas.
U.S. Army Special Operations Command announced Monday evening that the fallen service member is Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Michael James Goble, 33, fromo Westwood, New Jersey.
“Sgt. 1st Class Goble was more than just a member of the 7th Special Forces Group, he was a brother to us, and a beloved family member to the Northwest Florida community.” said Army Col. John W. Sannes, 7th SFG (A) commander.
“We will honor our brother’s sacrifice and provide the best possible care to his family. We ask that you keep his Family and teammates in your thoughts and prayers.”
According to a GoFundMe posting, Goble leaves behind a partner and young daughter. It said:
We lost a true American hero yesterday. Anyone that crossed paths with Mike, was truly blessed. I have never met a soldier that was more passionate and patriotic than Mike Goble. He loved this country endlessly, and paid the ultimate sacrifice for it, fighting for our freedom. He leaves behind a beautiful daughter, Zoey, and his beautiful partner Jen, who has stood by his side all these years. Times are going to be very hard over the next few months. The last thing Jen needs to worry about is money. Let’s do what we can to support this family, and do right by Mike.
Goble served as a Weapons Sergeant to Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th SFG (A). His awards and decorations included the Bronze Star Medal (with three oak leaf clusters). It was Goble’s third deployment to Afghanistan, and eighth deployment overall.
Goble’s death marked the 18th combat death in Afghanistan this year.
Shortly after the U.S. military first announced the casualty, Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for a roadside bombing that killed a U.S. soldier in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz, where U.S. and Afghan forces were carrying out a joint raid.
Goble’s death comes at a politically sensitive time.
The Washington Post recently published a trove of interviews conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) with former officials who said progress in the war has been exaggerated over the last 18 years.
President Trump has begun drawing down forces in Afghanistan despite outcry from the Senate in January against a “precipitous withdrawal.”
In October, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Army Gen. Scott Miller announced the U.S. had withdrawn about 2,000 troops this year, bringing the total down to 12,000 currently.
U.S. troops are in Afghanistan conducting two missions: One to train Afghan forces known as Resolute Support, and another to hunt down terrorists known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently confirmed the Pentagon is considering the drawdown of as many as 4,000. He told reporters on December 16:
I can say, for quite some time now, that I think we can go to a lower number in Afghanistan because the commander believes that he can conduct the all-important counter-terrorism mission and train, advise and assist so that we ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.
So he’s confident that he can go down to a lower number. I would like to go down to a lower number because I want to either bring those troops home, so they can refit and retrain for other missions or/and be redeployed to the Indo-Pacific to face off our greatest challenge in terms of the great power competition that’s vis-a-vis China.
Esper also said he has not yet issued any orders to draw down yet.
“This is a conversation that has to be had between me and the secretary of state. We want to consult closer with our allies, but at the end of the day it will be the commander in chief’s decision,” he added.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley described the war as a strategic stalemate — one in which the Afghan forces could not defeat the Taliban as long as it had safe haven in Pakistan, and the Taliban could not defeat the Afghan forces as long as they continued receiving U.S. support.
“There’s only one way that this is going end, and it’s in a negotiated solution with the Taliban, and it’s going to have to be an Afghan-to-Afghan solution. That’s what we’ve been saying for years,” Milley said at a press conference Friday.
The Taliban and U.S. Special Envoy Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have been trying to negotiate a peace agreement that would include a promise from the Taliban that it would not allow terrorists to use the country as a base.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden master-minded a terrorist attack from a safe haven in Afghanistan.
The Taliban now control about half of Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press. The group has a strong presence in Kunduz Province, and briefly took over its capital city in 2015. It has tried to stage several comebacks since then.