Category Archive 'SEAL Team Six'

07 Nov 2011

New Book on Osama’s Death Contradicts White House Account

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A new book, SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden, by Chuck Pfarrer based on interviews with Navy SEALS who participated in the strike that eliminated Osama bin Ladin apparently offers a number of details contradicting the White House version of events.

The Week:

The US Navy Seals who killed Osama Bin Laden – codenamed ‘Bert’ – are angry over inaccuracies in the official account of the al-Qaeda mastermind’s death, a new book featuring interviews with the men claims.

A former commander of Seal Team 6, which carried out the killing, Chuck Pfarrer, interviewed many of the men who took part for his new account, Seal Target Geronimo, reports The Sunday Times.

One of the biggest revelations is the claim that the White House blew valuable intelligence gathered during the mission by announcing Bin Laden’s death too soon, giving “time for every other Al-Qaeda leader to scurry to another bolthole” according to Pfarrer.

The Seals are also angry that the White House described the operation as a ‘kill mission’. First, says Pfarrer, Bin Laden was killed within 90 seconds of US Navy landing in his compound – though the version of events given to the press suggested his death came towards the end of the 38-minute mission.

He was killed not after a protracted gun battle – but in a clinical operation where just 12 shots were fired.

Second, the Seals were fully prepared to take him alive. “I’ve been a Seal for 30 years and I never heard the words ‘kill mission'”, Pfarrer said. “It’s a [Washington insider’s] fantasy word.

“If it was a kill mission you don’t need Seal Team 6; you need a box of hand grenades,” he added, explaining they were forced to shoot Bin Laden as he reached for his AK-47.

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Daily Mail:

[T]he President was not nearly that engaged – and was actually playing golf until 20 minutes before the operation began in earnest. …

Mr Pfarrer says the President’s role was largely inflated and suggests he stayed out on the golf course for so long so he could distance himself in case it went wrong. Mr Pfarrer writes: ‘If this had completely gone south, he was in a position to disavow.’

He says the White House photographs did not show the moment that Bin Laden was killed, but the moment a helicopter went down, which happened after the shooting. …

The book also gives a dramatic new insight into what happened during the 1am raid, during which only 12 bullets were fired.

Within 90 seconds of their helicopter landing, the SEALs saw Bin Laden slam his bedroom door shut. Two SEALs burst in and saw Bin Laden and one of his four wives, Amal, who shouted: ‘It’s not him!’

Contrary to White House statements that he was unarmed, Bin Laden had a gun next to him. As he shoved his wife at the SEALs, four shots were fired.

The first round whistled past Bin Laden’s face. The second grazed his wife’s calf. Mr Pfarrer claims: ‘Two 5.56mm Predator bullets slammed into him. One struck him next to his breastbone, blowing apart his aorta. The last went through his skull.’

He also reveals that Bin Laden was known as Bert to the Seals, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was Ernie – a reference to the Sesame Street puppets.

12 Aug 2011

“Blow, bugles, blow!”

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These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

Blow, bugles, blow! — Rupert Brooke

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The US commander in Afghanistan announced on Wednesday that US aircraft had killed the responsible insurgents.

10 Aug 2011

Was Iran Involved in Shooting Down US Helicopter?

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107mm improvised rocket-assisted mortar (IRAM) captured in Iraq

Wired’s Danger Room describes the circumstances of the Taliban ambush which on August 6 took down an American CH-47 helicopter carrying 22 Navy SEALs, 8 other Americans and 8 Afghans, and the same article was the first public reference to insider speculation that an Iranian-supplied IRAM may have been used to attack the helicopter.

Details of the shoot-down are slowly emerging. “There will be multiple investigations,” a Special Operations Command official said.

Sometime late Friday, it appears, a team of U.S. Army Rangers got pinned down by insurgent fighters during a patrol in Wardak, a province just south of Kabul that, along with neighboring Logar province, is a major staging area for the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

The Rangers called in their “Immediate Reaction Force,” a helicopter-borne mobile reserve that orbits nearby during risky patrols. That day, IRF duty had fallen to the Navy SEALs and their attachments, part of the 10,000-strong Afghanistan-based Joint Special Operations Command task force that, in addition to killing Osama bin Laden in May, also conducts as many as 70 raids per day in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2,800 raids between April and July, JSOC captured around 2,900 insurgents and killed more than 800, military sources said. That’s twice as many raids compared to the same period a year ago.

Normally, JSOC commandos ride in tricked-out helicopters — including stealth models — belonging to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. But this weekend the SEALs hitched a ride in what was apparently a run-of-the-mill Army National Guard chopper.

With the SEALs’ help, the Rangers fought back against their ambushers. Eight insurgents died in the fighting, according to a Taliban spokesman. Believing the battle over, around 3 in the morning local time, the SEALs and their allies climbed back into their CH-47 for the ride home. That’s when all Hell broke loose.

“The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take,” one unnamed Afghan official tells AFP. “That’s the only route, so they took position[s] on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons.”

“It was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander,” the official added. …

The cause of the CH-47 crash is still under investigation. “The helicopter was reportedly fired on by an insurgent rocket-propelled grenade,” according to a coalition press release. Which weapon — or weapons — were actually responsible for the copter coming down is not yet known. Several publications claim an insurgent Rocket-Propelled Grenade struck the helicopter.

One Army insider who spoke to Danger Room went a step further, saying the rocket may have been a special improvised model. A chopper-killer, if you will.

The so-called “Improvised Rocket-Assisted Mortar” made its debut in Iraq in 2008, although not in attacks on aircraft. IRAMs combine traditional tube mortars with rocket boosters and, in many cases, remote triggers, allowing insurgents to fire them from a distance.

IRAMs have killed several U.S. troops in Iraq over the years; in June, the weapons killed six Americans. but haven’t factored heavily in the Afghanistan fighting. The weapon’s appearance in Wardak, if confirmed, could be proof of Afghan insurgents’ continued ability to adapt and innovate despite mounting losses.

Improvised rockets are notoriously inaccurate. But with bigger warheads than shoulder-fired RPGs, IRAMs are potentially much more destructive when they do hit.

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On CNN: Frances Fragos Townsend, a former Bush Administration Deputy National Security Advisor and Homeland Security Advisor, and novelist Brad Thor, around 2:51, begin discussing the possibility that Iranian spies in the Afghan government may have assisted the Taliban in ambushing the SEALs as well as the possible use of an Iranian-supplied IRAM, “a flying IED.”

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Further support for the IRAM theory and that of direct Iranian involvement is supplied by the fact that left-wing Intel blogger Jeff Stein found it desirable to pooh-pooh the speculation and insult the expertise of the security experts interviewed on CNN.

I’d quote him if Stein had anything substantive to say, but his blog post is really just a slam piece offering nothing but arrogance, abuse, and self-advantageous subjectivity.

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Stein is then seconded by Salon’s resident Islam-apologist Justin Elliott who informs us that Wardak province is nearer to Pakistan than Iran (clearly establishing Iran’s innocence of any role in mischief in that neighborhood).

He then clutches at a straw from the original Wired article, leaning heavily on a statement from Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen that “We’re not seeing any specific new types of weapons on the battlefield.” But Wired makes it clear that it is uncertain whether IRAMs would have been considered “new weapons” by the general.

Elliott then cites Stein as an authority, and concludes by dismissing what he calls “the campaign to blame Iran” which he describes as “baseless.”

We are obviously talking in this case about rumors and speculations, which are bound to be unsupported by hard evidence, since the US Government is not necessarily willing to share all it knows publicly. But such speculations are far from baseless. Iran is extremely interested in doing whatever harm it can to the United States. Iran is clearly actively supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan, just as it has done in Iraq. The Afghan government and military are well-known to be riddled with corruption. The destruction of a large Chinook helicopter by a lucky hit with an RPG is possible, but would have had to have been a very lucky hit. It would be much easier to knock down a large aircraft using a munition carrying a more powerful explosive charge. Iran has supplied IRAMs in large quantity to its surrogates in Iraq, and senior Iranian QUDS Force officers have been captured operating with insurgents in Iraq by US troops and later released.

The rumors are unproven and unprovable to those of us outside official circles, but there isn’t anything baseless about any of this.

07 Aug 2011

Downed US Helicopter

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Michael Yon, as a tribute, published a photo of the interior of a CH-47 helicopter loaded with troops.

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DEBKAfile says that the Taliban shot down that Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Wardak province carrying 25 members of US Navy SEAL Team Six, 5 crew members, and and 7 Afghan allies, the helicopter down brought using only a rocket-propelled grenade.

Downing a helicopter apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade, which is not a standard anti-aircraft weapon, indicates that the Taliban has perfected methods for shooting down low-flying American helicopters with the basic weapons in their possession.
As the investigation begins on the incident, there are conflicting reports about the mission performed by the men aboard.

According to a US military source, they were returning from an operation in which eight insurgents were believed to have been killed. A Taliban insurgent present at the crash scene told Western correspondents the helicopter was not leaving but arriving: “What we saw was that when we were having our pre-dawn (Ramadan) meal, Americans landed some soldiers for an early raid. The other helicopter also came for the raid,” Mohammad Walil Wardag said. “We were outside our rooms on a veranda and saw this helicopter flying very low, it was hit by a rocket and it was on fire. It started coming down and crashed just away form our home close to the river.”

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Some are interpreting the helicopter loss as a deliberate attack on the US force responsible for the killing of Osama bin Laden and blame the Obama Administration for basking publicly in the success of that operation and releasing too many details.

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Pakistan newspapers are rejoicing over the deaths of the Americans.


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