The investigation into the downing of “Extortion 17” has netted little, if any tangible results for family members of the 31 men killed. The 30 days spent by government and military officials mulling over the circumstances surrounding the case has raised more questions than it has answered. The cursory, presumptive, and careless way this so called “investigation” was handled is a direct slap in the face in the face to the families of the members of Seal Team Six and to the other men on board the helicopter that night. It should also be a clarion call to current military members and their families as well.
Using one prior military investigation as a yardstick, “Extortion 17” families point to the re- investigation conducted by the Pentagon in the case of Wanat Village. Afghanistan in 2008, when nine American soldiers were killed. In fact it was a re-investigation of the events that transpired that day brought about by the efforts of family members with the help of just one U. S. Senator.
That investigation,instead of bearing it’s focus on the tactical aspects of the battle, centered on the operational planning and execution, intelligence gathering and logistical support. The command and control of the operation at all levels was scrutinized severely. Investigator’s were directed from the onset to search for any signs that might point to dereliction of duty by the command authority involved in the command and logistic’s employed during and after the intial battle, also known as “Operation Rock Move”.
That team of military appointed investigator’s conducted interviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Vicenza, Italy; Fort Benning, Georgia, and in Norfolk, Virginia. Forty eight witnesses from all levels of command were interviewed under oath. The team provided verbatim transcripts of testimony, it collected and reviewed data from operational reports and summaries; maps; charts; photographs; intelligence summaries; briefings; notes; logs;and the initial AR 15-6 investigative report issued by the Commander.
According to the findings of the investigation, that very same Commander known as CJTF 101 determined that Coalition Forces could ” No longer achieve their counterinsurgency objectives in Wanat due to complicity in the attack by the local Afghan government officials, population and the Afghan National Police. After entering the area on July 8 of 2008, and after the death of nine American soldiers, those same Coalition Forces were forced to withdraw from the area one week later.
The report goes on to site failures of key command personnel to provide proper follow up planning and resupply efforts. It points out a lack of proper oversight and a lack of awareness. The battalion commander was sighted for dereliction as was the second in command of the operation and goes onto make recommendations for reassessing planning of such operations in the future.
Military officials were held accountable for their actions. The Afghan government in that area were found to be working hand-in-hand with the Taliban against American forces. Every move made by military officials before, during, and after “Operation Rock Move” was gone over with a fine tooth comb. “Extortion 17″ despite the outcry from some public officials along with family members lingers. The third anniversary approaches with nothing new to report.
According to one family member of a Seal Team Six operative, ” they dedicated 1,000 times more resources and effort into the investigation of Wanat, where there were nine KIA’s then they did to the Chinook shoot down.
Military commanders on the ground in August 2011 in Afghanistan decided to put 22 of the most highly trained, highly regarded special forces on one 60 year old Vietnam era transport helicopter without any proper air support. Without an “Eye in the Sky” , without their normal Night Stalker’s covering their backs, without a proper intelligence assessment of enemy ground troops in the zone in they were headed to, and all oother normal standard operational procedures were either abandoned or overlooked. Dereliction of duty? Lack of proper planning? Lack of proper support both in the air and on the ground? What would you say?
If you were the CEO of any company or corporation and you made the decision to take 22 of your most highly trained vital assets, individuals your company paid millions of dollars to train, placed them all on the same corporate jet at one time without doing a thorough safety check on that jet would you not be held accountable to the Board of Director’s?
It costs U.S. taxpayers approximately one million dollars for each Navy Seal that makes it through Basic Underwater Demolition School. Not to mention the additional millions it cost to further train these main in whatever specialty they pursue. These men, as should be the case are accorded proper recognition by the military, guaranteeing them all the proper safety allowances and considerations during their time in service to their country. From a practical point of view it makes sense, right? Your best assets are protected as such.
The men that sign on for these operations know full well the risk that’s involved. They do so willingly with a deep belief that their command officials will do their part to protect them to the best of their ability. They take on the most dangerous missions the military confronts, they are equipped with the finest because they are the finest.Yet, for some unknown reason, in the early morning hours of August 6, 2011.”, 22 of the best were piled onto one very old helicopter without any proper backup in the air or on the ground and were sent to their death’s by what military officials have called a ” lucky shot.”
Can anyone blame their parents for suspecting duplicity? For not understanding the detached way this whole affair has been treated by the Pentagon, the media, and the lawmakers in Washington?
We, the people sit on the Board of Director’s of this nation. Billions of dollars leave the treasury every year in foreign aid, bound for countries around the world that think of us in unflattering ways. The people who sit in high political office don’t think a few of those dollars should be put to finding out why some of our sons died needlessly and carelessly that night.
In a conversation with his father Michael Strange turned to his father and told him, “Dad, they hate us over there (Afghanistan), they hate us.” How many times have you heard those words before when the U.S. decided to send our son’s and daughter’s off to some foreign land tens of thousands of miles away to liberate people who don’t even want us there? Vietnam? Iraq? Lebanon? Panama?
“We sleep safely in our beds at night because rough men stand by to visit violence on those that would do us harm.”