The size of the Marine Corps could be reduced with the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the Pentagon focuses its resources on other types of threats, like cyberattacks.
HONOLULU (AP) — All six Marines killed in the crash of a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan were based in Hawaii, a Hawaii congresswoman said Friday.
The helicopter crashed Thursday in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday she's saddened to hear of the deaths. Her spokeswoman, Ashley Nagaoka Boylan, said the congresswoman was notified Thursday evening that all six were Hawaii-based Marines.
"All who have called Hawaii home are part of our island ohana, and every loss like this touches us deeply," Hanabusa said in a statement, using the Hawaiian word for family.
A senior U.S. defense official confirmed all six were Marines on condition of anonymity because the U.S. command in Afghanistan had not yet released details.
The official says there is no indication that the helicopter was hit by enemy fire.
Chuck Little, spokesman for Marine Forces Pacific at Camp Smith on Oahu, said he could not provide information about the crash.
The crash, which occurred in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, was the deadliest in Afghanistan since August, when 30 American troops died after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country.
The cause of Thursday's crash is still being investigated, but a statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said there was no enemy activity in the area when it happened.
"The loss of the six U.S. Marines in yesterday's helicopter crash in Afghanistan comes as tragic news for our island community and our nation," Hawaii Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono said in a statement. "We owe them and all of our brave servicemen and women a debt of gratitude for their dedication to our country."
AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed from Washington.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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