“The biggest loss ever, in any war in the history of America, 22 guys of the Navy’s DevGru, and they never read the official report. This is bigger than Benghazi.” These were the frustrated words of Charles Strange, father of slain Navy Petty Officer Michael Strange, speaking the day after he went to the Pentagon yet again, in his search for answers to one of the most mysterious events in U.S. militaryhistory.
Michael was killed, along with 31 other military personnel in August of 2011 in what has become known as “Extortion 17′, the call sign for the Chinook helicopter they were flying in on a rescue mission over the Tanqi Valley in Afghanistan. Here is the link to the Michael Strange Foundation.
The United States Navy Special Warfare Development Group, also known as DeVGru is a component of the Joint Special Operations Command and is often referred to as SEAL Team Six. Despite the fact that SEAL Team Six was officially disbanded in 1987, the name has stuck. Along with their Army counterpart, Delta Force, they are the primary counter-terrorism units employed by the U.S. military. Initially created as a maritime counter-terrorism unit, it has become a multi-functional special operations unit with several roles that include high-risk military operations.
Strange, was a Cryptology specialist. “He was a code breaker, we had no idea Michael was that smart,” Strange’s father said laughingly. He was given newspapers from around the country, Boston, New York and he’d be able to pick out messages that were coded communications from terrorists to their cells here in America. He wasn’t a Seal specifically, he could have passed BUDS with no problem, he had 2 per cent body fat, he would have passed with no problem,” Strange boasted.
BUDS is Basic Underwater Demolition training that is required to become a an actual Navy Seal team member.
“Michael was awarded the National Medal of Valor, only 19 of them have been issued in the history of this nation. Do you believe that they never read the report that was issued,” Strange asked.
“They never read the 1364 page report, they read a short summary of how my son died. They read Bill and Karen Vaughn’s book, they read some stuff off the internet, watched a my YouTube video at the national Press Club press conference and that was it. We had pages of questions, after 20 minutes it became apparent that they never read the official report. They sat there and told me they’d get back to me,” Strange said. This was two and a half years after the fateful night in Afghanistan.
“This was an established ambush, a set-up, the Taliban was boasting about it a half hour after the crash,”
When asked how he thought the Taliban were aware that Seal Team Six was in the chopper, he stopped and thought for a minute. ” I’m sure it was the Afghans, it was either them or somebody from our side. That’s why I’m asking questions.”
Unknown to many unfamiliar with the case of Extortion 17 is the fact that there were seven Afghan commandos travelling with the team that evening. one of whom was an interpreter. The suspicions are that one or more of these commandos may have tipped off the Taliban ahead of time to the fact that the Seal Team was moving in.
Another insult to the parents and perhaps another unknown to many citizens is the fact that despite travelling into the hornet’s nest that is the Tanqi Valley that night, the two Apache helicopters providing air support were denied permission to fire upon suspected targets considered to be threat to the Chinook.
As Extortion 17 approached it’s final target, suspected enemy targets were spotted moving into a building with tower that gave them a solid advantageous position to fire at the Chinook. When permission was requested to lay down support and cover fire by the Apache pilots, it was denied. This battle would have been over before it started, but permission to fire was denied because of the new rules of engagement implemented by the Obama Administration. No target shall be fired upon if there are thought to be civilians in the area.The Taliban is aware of these new rules.
All knowledge, forethought, and mission planning for American troops for American Troops in Afghanistan are under the joint oversight of the Operational Coordination Group which is a command of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
When asked why the firepower was withheld that night, Three-star Admiral Robert Harward told the parents of the Seal Team members killed, ” we need to win their hearts and minds”.