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Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience.
Watch these Navy SEAL Team VI families and other family members as they reveal the Obama Administrations culpability in death of their sons in the fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan following the successful raid on bin Laden's compound. This is a powerful and riveting briefing thatincluded some of America's most significant military leaders.
The tragedy unfolded at 10:55 p.m. on Aug. 5, 2011, when 47 Army Rangers set down in two CH-47 Chinooks in high ground overlooking Afghanistan’s Tangi Valley. The mission was part of an intensified campaign to kill or capture Taliban leaders, a drive that put tremendous demands on the helicopter fleet and left newer special “ops” models in short supply.
That night, the quarry was Qari Tahir, identified as the top leader in that critical area south of Kabul where the enemy moved in and out of Pakistan.
The Rangers raided a house thought to hold Tahir. The fleeing enemy — the military calls them “squirters” — escaped through a back door. The Rangers’ leader then made a pivotal decision: He asked the special operations task force to send an immediate reaction force to help catch the squirters, though whether any of them was Tahir was not known. It turned out he was in another village.
Commanders assembled the reaction force in 50 minutes and loaded them on one conventional CH-47, call sign Extortion 17, for the brief flight piloted by a seasoned National Guardsman and a younger reservist.
At that point, it was a far more risky flight than the insertion of Rangers 3 hours earlier. The Rangers had the benefit of surprise. Extortion 17 did not. It was flying into a firefight, with the noise of Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships and drones above telling everyone in the valley that a military operation was underway.
It lifted off a forward operating base at 2:22 a.m., held for several minutes at one point, then announced it was one minute out at 2:38. At that moment, Extortion 17 slowed to 58 mph, at no more than 150 feet, approaching a spot framed by trees and mud-brick huts, and “sparkled” by the infrared designator on an AC-130 gunship.
In darkness, the Taliban fired two or three rocket-propelled grenades, a Soviet-designed OG-7 anti-personnel version that is accurate inside 170 yards. The shooter had positioned himself well within the weapon’s effective range.
One of the rocket-propelled grenades clipped a rotor blade and sent the Chinook into a violent spin, then fiery crash. Within 30 minutes, bragging about the hit from Taliban fighters started appearing on communications nets.
The command press office in Kabul at first told reporters that Extortion 17 was on a rescue mission. But the Rangers did not need rescuing. They had secured the target compound and were chasing squirters.
“A reactionary force is usually sent in as a rescue, meaning our guys are in trouble and you send them in,” Mr. Hamburger said. “You don’t send a reaction force to stop a group of the enemy escaping out the back side of the village, especially in a dangerous valley in a dangerous entry like they were doing.”
The Colt report supports Mr. Hamburger’s position. The special operations command in Afghanistan rarely assembled a reaction force, much less the elite SEAL Team 6, for the chore of chasing fleeing Taliban fighters.
A Colt investigator asked the task force operations officer, “How often do [you] employ the [immediate reaction force] on a target?”
“Rarely sir,” he answered. “It is rare to have a separate IRF element that is planned like this one.”
Likewise, an officer in the combat aviation brigade that provided Extortion 17 said he knew of no previous mission to send a reaction force to catch squirters.
“It has not happened sir,” he told Gen. Colt.
The CH-47D, a conventional helicopter flown by a non-special operations pilot and co-pilot, is fine for ferrying cargo and troops to uncontested areas.
But to insert commandos into a “hot” zone, specialized choppers such as the MH-47 and MH-60 flown by special operations pilots should have been used, family members say. Army Special Operations Aviation aircraft fly fast and low, while the CH-47D descends to a landing zone from a significant height, making it an easy target.
A special operations commander told Gen. Colt that, of the CH-47D, his “comfort level is low because they don’t fly like ARSOA. They don’t plan like ARSOA. They don’t land like ARSOA. They will either, you know, kind of do a runway landing. Or if it’s a different crew that trains different areas, they will do the pinnacle landing.”
Unlike the MH models, the CH-47D was not equipped with any defensive alert system against rocket-propelled grenades.
It is notable that the command sent the combat rescue, and ordnance disposal teams, to the crash site in MH-47s, not CHs, and that the 47 Rangers left the Tangi Valley in special operations choppers.
Mr. Hamburger said he was told that no MH models were available when Extortion 17 was tapped for its doomed flight.
The AH-64 Apaches serve as the Chinooks’ bodyguards during a typical troop insertion, escorting them to the landing zone and then targeting enemy on the ground.
But Extortion 17 had no Apache escorts.
“Yes, sir,” a commander answered. “And I’m sure you know by now the manifest was accurate with the exception of the [redacted] personnel that were on. So the [redacted] personnel, they were incorrect — all seven names were incorrect. And I cannot talk to the back story of why.”
The “seven,” family members say, refers to the Afghan soldiers. The open Colt report makes no reference about why the manifest was inaccurate. Military censors redacted any reference to the Afghans. Some families believe the task force at the last moment was forced to remove seven Afghans whose names remained on the manifest and replace them with seven others.
Commanders told Gen. Colt’s investigation team that the Taliban put 100 fighters into Tangi Valley for the express purpose of bringing down U.S. aircraft. A flight with 17 SEALs would be a coveted target.
Then there is the fact that a group of Taliban fighters, equipped with hand-held radios, shifted positions and gathered near Extortion 17’s landing zone — a spot never before used by the Americans.
Two Taliban fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades just happened to be stationed in a high turret less than 150 yards from Chinook’s “hot landing zone,” or (HLZ).
"The Pentagon has defended the cremation to the soldiers’ families, saying the bodies were badly burned."
Rep. Chaffetz, however, saw a photo of one of the deceased SEALs and said, “The body I saw didn't need to be cremated.”
Additionally, at a press conference, Charles Strange noted (at 10:50) that he was told that his son Michael "had to be cremated." He said,
"My son didn't need to be cremated. I've got pictures of my son. He was fighting, he had a gun in his hand."
Mr. Strange continued to say that he "called the command" and asked why his son was cremated. He was told that "everyone was burned beyond recognition." Strange disputes this, saying he had photos from the autopsy report that were included with a "disc" he received.
"Another lie," he said.