An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was grounded Jan. 5 in southern Afghanistan, where it was damaged while evacuating U.S. and Afghan casualties from a firefight with Taliban fighters.

One U.S. service member, reportedly a member of Special Operations Forces, was killed during the attack while training Afghan special forces personnel near Marjah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Two other U.S. personnel and several Afghan special forces personnel were injured in the incident, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a Jan. 5 afternoon press conference.

A pair of HH-60 Pave Hawk medical evacuation helicopters was sent to provide assistance and evacuate the wounded. One of the helicopters was waved off without landing after taking ground fire and returned to its base, Cook said. The second landed safely at the sight of the ongoing firefight, but hit a wall, damaging its main rotor. At the time of the briefing, the aircraft was still unable to take off because of the damage, Cook said.

“This is an ongoing situation,” Cook said the afternoon of Jan. 5. “There is still a fight going on in the immediate surroundings.”

Cook would not confirm reports that the grounded HH-60 helicopter was damaged by enemy mortar fire after it landed.

No U.S. troops in Afghanistan are performing combat missions, but are dispersed throughout the country training Afghan troops to continue the fight against a resurgent Taliban. U.S. forces have been training conventional and special operations Afghan military personnel in Helmand Province for some time. Cook would not specify what the U.S. forces were doing near Marjah when they were attacked, other than that was “consistent” with the train, advise and assist mission.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited Afghanistan in December 2015 to take stock of U.S. progress in the ongoing Operation Resolute Support there, in which U.S. forces are not performing a combat role. Carter was briefed Jan. 5 by U.S. commanders in Kabul, Afghanistan, during a previously scheduled teleconference, Cook said.

“The situation in Helmand and throughout Afghanistan remains challenging and we are confident that the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) are continuing to develop the capabilities and capacity to secure the country against a persistent insurgent threat,” Cook said. “The U.S. and Afghan governments agree that the best way to ensure lasting peace and security in Afghanistan is through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”

Despite major recent setbacks for the ANDSF, including the loss of Kunduz city to the Taliban for two weeks, Cook said those forces are “getting better at defending their own country.” The Pentagon’s own report on the ANDSF released December found that the Afghans showed a willingness to retake lost territory from the Taliban, but “have a long way to go” and “remain reluctant to pursue the Taliban into their traditional safe havens.”

“They are not at a point yet where they are able to operate entirely on their own, which is why U.S. forces and other NATO forces are there assisting and providing this kind of training … to the Afghans,” Cook said. “We have seen solid progress from the Afghan forces.”

Asked if the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan continues in all but name, Cook said only that “it is safe to say that Afghanistan is a dangerous place.”

“The U.S. forces that are providing assistance to the Afghans are in harm’s way when they are there,” he added. “We have seen that. It has been a painful reminder the last few weeks, but the Afghans are leading this fight. They are doing it with the support of the United States and the support of other international partners.”

Six Air Force personnel were killed Dec. 21 when their patrol outside the wire at Bagram Air Base was attacked by a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle.