SEAL Team 6 raid in Yemen raises questions

Casey Mills
February 3, 2017

US President Donald Trump arrives aboard the Marine One to greet the remains of a US military commando killed during a raid on the al Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen.

Aerial gunfire called in to support US forces during the Sunday raid appears to have struck and killed civilians.

Warships shelled suspected al Qaeda strongholds in a mountainous region of southern Yemen on Thursday, in what two Yemeni government officials said they believed was a US operation. Following extensive reports of civilian casualties, on Wednesday, the US Central Command acknowledged that civilians including children were "likely killed".

The challenges of military operations in Yemen were on display in 2014, when United States commandos attempted to rescue western hostages, including American journalist Luke Sommers, held by the terror group.

Al-Qaeda fighters seemed ready for Sunday's deadly Navy SEAL raid in Yemen, a source familiar with the raid told ABC News, nearly as though they knew the Americans were coming.

The Pentagon directed queries about the officials' characterization of the raid to U.S. Central Command, which pointed only to its statement on Wednesday. It is possible that the planners did consider the PPG standard, but concluded that the "near certainty" standard of the PPG (i.e., near certainty that the attack won't cause collateral damage) was met (perhaps just barely).

"Any operation where you are going to put operators on the ground has inherent risks", he said.

New reporting on the raid noted that the operation had been conceived under former President Barack Obama, but was delayed due to timing and insufficient intelligence.

After the raid a Yemeni official said the attack left 41 Al-Qaeda members dead, plus eight women and eight children. An elite Special Operations air regiment was eventually deployed to pull the team out, but the extraction was stalled when one of its MV-22 Ospreys lost power and hit the ground hard enough to wound two service members and disable the aircraft, which was subsequently destroyed by a US airstrike. The inescapable conclusion is that the U.S. special force troops killed everyone they encountered, men, women and children alike.

Eight-year-old American citizen Nawar al-Awlaki, daughter of infamous al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in Yemen in 2011, was reportedly among those killed in the weekend's botched mission.

The raid was delayed for operational reasons, the White House official said.

As for "what went wrong", the Times reports that al Qaeda fighters were somehow "tipped off to the stealthy advance" of the U.S. Navy SEALs who then "found themselves in a gun battle with Qaeda fighters who took up positions in other houses, a clinic, a school and a mosque, often using women and children as cover, American military officials said in interviews this week".

Al Qaeda members were also killed in Yemen.

Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, was assigned to a special warfare unit based on the U.S. East Coast, Pentagon officials said.

"The decision was made.to leave it to the incoming administration, partly in the hope that more and better intelligence could be collected", that official told Reuters.

That aircraft, a V-22 Osprey, was then intentionally destroyed by USA troops to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

The US military launched a precision-guided bomb to obliterate one of its own aircrafts following a crash landing that injured two.

Trump and daughter Ivanka earlier flew from the White House aboard the Marine One presidential helicopter to Dover Air Force Base in DE for the repatriation of Owens's remains.

Other reports by MyHealthBowl

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER