Before Benghazi There Was Extortion 17 – Navy SEALs Team VI – Part Two: Rules of Engagement

Deep in the night on 6 August, 2011, in the hostile territory known as Tangi River Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan, a Chinook helicopter with call sign Extortion 17, carrying 30 brave American warriors, crashed, killing all on board. There were also 7 Afghan commandos, one Afghan interpreter, and one U.S. Military Working Dog on the Chinook. None survived.

Documented, terrible things went wrong. These are the things the families of the warriors are seeking answers to from the government. First of all, rarely would that many members of an elite team, such as Navy SEALs, be on a helicopter at once, together; nor would they be transported in an antiquated piece of equipment such as a Chinook CH-47. It’s not unheard of for 30 Spec Ops men to be on one carrier, but not extremely common either.

General Paul Vallely (US Army, Ret.), in a recent radio interview, summed up the history of our war efforts, going back to World War II and Korea, and stated once rules of engagement (ROE) were placed on the forces in Vietnam, even the aircraft missions were mostly approved all the way back to Washington D.C. He continued:

“Progress forward to the Middle East when we got entangled with ‘nation building’, which is not the purpose of the armed forces. We are there to protect America, and to neutralize threats. Then we got involved in the political environment where we had the stringent rules of engagement that are forced upon us, and we tied the hands of our armed forces who are out at the point of the spear on front lines–our Special Forces, Infantry and so on.  It goes all the way to Pat Tillman, and that coverup, on to Extortion 17 in 2011, and then forward to Benghazi. We’ve seen our armed forces used in missions and strategy they should not have been involved in; put in a situation where not only is it not sound strategy but not sound tactics. The Extortion 17 mission, was not well planned, it was not the right equipment, and from our investigation, we are very, very convinced it was a setup ambush. We know the Afghans were involved, notifying the Taliban in the Tangi Valley. Rangers, Marine Recon, SEALs…have all been required to operate in such a way that insurgents would know their plans ahead of time, and be able to shoot them down, as happened here. We have our best and brightest going down in a Chinook helicopter from ’50s and ’60s, retrofitted in the ’80s. MH-47s dedicated to Spec Ops missions were not used. When the families were briefed there was a lot of coverup and attempt to shut them up so that they didn’t complain. The exposure we will provide to the American people is continued deceit, deception and lies from our senior government officials and the victims of all this are these young men who have been killed and their families suffering from their loss.”

As for the ROE, if you go back and study military history even back to the Roman Empire, commanders all had certain ROE for engaging the enemy for lands on which they fought. Vallely said:

“As we’ve progressed through time, we’ve always had limited ROE and some have been political, and some have been delegated on down to the commanders to see what would fit, as each one differs greatly. As we progressed into Vietnam we had the politicals, many who had never served in the military and some such as McNamara, who should have gone to prison for what he did as Secretary of Defense. It’s gotten so bad now that we have people such as the Judge Advocate court, the legal people of the military, influencing combat missions . Commanders should only be involved, once they’ve been given the authority to operate in a given area; the mission to operate, and to defeat the enemy and come back to home base. We’ve seen a political polarization of military, of our senior Commanders, Admirals and Generals…fallen into this political environment, rather than being military strategists, who seek victory once the decision has been made to go to war.”

According to Billy Vaughn, father of slain Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, his son called his parents on Sunday, May 1st, 2011, and said “We got him!” He said he couldn’t say who, over the phone, but said to turn on Fox News and there would be a report. He was referring to Osama bin Laden. Aaron didn’t say exactly who got him, Billy said. He just knew it was the American military, and he assumed that DEVGRU, formerly known as Navy SEAL Team 6, had gotten him. On television it was only stated that “Americans” did it.

“All rejoiced, and all changed quickly when Vice President Biden, through his arrogance and stupidity, outed the group that was responsible for taking down Osama bin Laden. This changed quickly, what occurred in our family, and all families of Spec Operators in the US. Then 48 hours later he had another talk with Karen” (Aaron’s mother), Billy stated.

On May 3rd, Biden outed the SEALs to the world, and then, according to Karen Vaughn, on May 4th, Aaron called her, and he “rarely ever sounded nervous; he was whispering, and told me to ‘shut down all social media, any reference of me or any of my buddies, clean it off right now’. On May 4th, Robert Gates expressed disgust over what Biden had done, and a few days later at Camp Lejeune reiterated what Aaron had said and then their families were concerned.”

Think about the retaliation, anger, and hatred for taking out the single figurehead for all sorts of evil on this planet, now aimed toward those singled out as the ones who took bin Laden out, and all done through the release of classified information. Then Panetta, CIA director, (the CIA led the Osama bin Laden raid) leaked which particular unit of Navy SEALs within Team 6, who it was, now making it 17 families with targets on their back, Karen stated, noting that “No one has answered for that.”

In May, documented, sworn testimony of military intel reports showed that over 100 Pakistani Taliban made it into the Tangi River valley with the express goal of shooting down a NATO chopper, full of US Special Forces, in retaliation for the Osama bin Laden raid. The Inspector General has acknowledged that he was instructed to protect Panetta from the repercussions of his act until after his retirement, which he did. It was treasonous.

Billy Vaughn noted targets were on their backs and his son was alerted to this. Billy later made a statement on the Today Show, that “wolves in high places and sheep in high places had endangered the sheepdogs in this country.”

“I was called out immediately for making this kind of statement. The families were warned about endangering other SEALs, even at the time that they still had no information. As soon as our son was dead, we were told ‘you can’t be political, you’re going to end Navy SEALs’. Families and soldiers were expected to live to a higher example, while the elite in DC have one standard and ordinary tax paying citizens are expected to live at another standard,” Billy stated.

When asked why such devastating damage would be done to our warriors,  Gen. Vallely said:

“They have their agenda, they are totally inept, unqualified for office; they are not honest, they don’t abide by the same things I learned at West Point of duty, honor, and country, and as a cadet learned you do not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do. They are very selfish, arrogant and out for their own careers. But I am more surprised by the Senior Admirals and Generals that don’t stand up to be counted and don’t refuse to tolerate this politicization of our military, and unsound strategies, because the military, when they go to war, should have a sound strategy to go and win and come back home”  said Vallely, who lost a son in 2004 who served in Spec Forces. He identifies with the loss of these families. “When we don’t have people in office who can stand up and protect people, we don’t utilize our human resources and in applying these restrictive ROE, they aren’t allowed to win and come back home safely” said Vallely.

Another point in play leading up to the crash is the fact that the operational tempo, the numbers of Special Forces missions run on a monthly basis, increased 600% from 2009 to 2011, to an astronomical number of an average of 335 Special Ops missions per month. There was testimony given, cited in the initial documents, that this far exceeded the capability of Special Forces aviation. High ranking military leaders have not been forthcoming with details the families desperately seek. They also revealed the CH-47 Chinook helicopter used in the mission had no gunship escort and no cover when it was attempting to land at 2 a.m. that Aug. 6th, and that Taliban on a rooftop shot down the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.

They never had the chance to shoot back. We allowed our enemy to become formidable because we will not fight to win this battle. No return fire was allowed because ROE couldn’t be met. An AC130 gunship air crew knew where shots were fired from but were not allowed to fire. Truly this is the definition of having both arms tied behind your back in battle and it is wrong and it is a disgrace.

Karen Vaughn stated in an interview with Jeff Kuhner, “The current strategy is a failed strategy. Great men like Col. Allen West, Larry Bailey, and Benjamin Smith are saying ‘enough’. Still there is no reform in the way we are fighting  with this failed strategy.”

The fact that the 8 Afghans on board were all removed at the last minute and others substituted in their place with no correction or names listed on the manifest is another suspicious detail. To this day the identities are still unknown of those actually killed who were on board with our 30 Americans. In the subsequent investigation into the crash, overseen by General Jeffrey Colt, this detail was suppressed and not mentioned in the 1200 page report. One must wonder what role they played and that question must be answered. So far it has not even been revealed who gave the order to replace the Afghans.

All 38 on board died in the fiery crash. The casualties included 17 Navy SEALs, making it one of the elite unit’s worst losses in combat and the single largest in the war in Afghanistan. The hastily planned mission was intended to aid 47 Army Rangers in the Tangi River Valley, even though the Rangers controlled the battle zone. The Americans killed consisted of 17 SEALs,  5 US Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command Support personnel, 5 were crew members from the U.S. Army’s 7th Battallion, 158th Aviation Regiment and 2nd Batallion, 135th Aviation Regiment, 2 were special operations U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (PJ’s) and 1 Combat Controller from the Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC); also on board was a highly trained U.S. military dog.

The families have fought for nearly two years to demand a congressional investigation into Extortion 17. Several congressional members such as Louie Gohmert, Trey Gowdy, and Michele Bachmann have all tried to do something with this and have supported the families, but all felt they could not get it past John Boehner. Finally, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has taken the lead and vows to bring it to Congress for an investigation and to push for answers. The truth, must come out.

Originally published August 3, 2013 by Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children with permission by the author.

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