Sad news about the loss of 17 Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan. The Spanish press is discussing the possible causes
of the crash of the helicopter which is described both as a "Superpuma" and a "Cougar." The Cougar is the military family of helos based on the Superpuma civil helos.
The main thrust of the article is that the helo was at maximum load, with its crew and passengers carrying full combat loads and flying at extremely low altitude, under 10m.
Spanish press says that according to its sources, atributing the accident to wind gust is not a serious explanation. (As in most mishaps) it was probably a cumulation of events - including altitude above sea level, altitude above ground level, load, and air temperature. It boils down to the fact that the aircraft was operating at the extremes of several variables. It was a risky mission to start with.
The implication in the Spanish article is that because the mission was risky, it shouldn't have been conducted. The tone is familiar. When something goes wrong armchair quarterbacks, like those too afraid to leave their hotels in Baghdad, question why the mission went forward when the risks were so great. The reason it goes forward is because the payoff of a successful mission outweighs the possible risks. We manage risk, through training, exercise and planning. We identify the risks, plan contingencies, and move out. That's what a military force does. That's how you win.