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WAS IT A “CRASH” OR A TAKEDOWN?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 10, 2011) — On Saturday, August 6, 2011, 38 people were reported killed when a Chinook helicopter went down in Maidan Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Both the terms “crash” and “shooting down” have been used to describe how the aircraft was destroyed.
It has been reported that those who perished consisted of “30 American troops, seven Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.” The Associated Press reported that “most” of the Special Operations troops were from the Navy SEAL unit which killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. However, an overseas report stated that “None of those killed were part of the SEALs mission that killed Osama, but they were from the same unit as the Osama team” and quoted from an AP report. Another article concurred that none of those who lost their lives had been part of the bin Laden operation.
CNN has reported conflicting reasons for why 22 SEALs were traveling together in the helicopter and what their mission was.
SEAL Team Six reportedly found bin Laden in May “through a combination of high-tech surveillance and old-fashioned detective work.”
One article stated that “All but two of the SEALs were from SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May.” The SEALs were on their way to assist a team of Army Rangers in eastern Afghanistan “who had come under fire.” It is believed that a rocket-propelled grenade caused the helicopter to crash.
SEAL Team Six has been described as “one of the United States’ three secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units (SMUs).” They are considered “elite special forces” and must go through a six-month training program. They are part of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as a “new force with the ability to perform clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments.”
Training is rigorous and involves “continuous physical conditioning,” “open and closed circuit combat diving,” and training “in all manner of environments, including desert and urban areas, mountains and woodlands, and jungle and arctic conditions.” Some of the minimum fitness requirements are here.
Taliban “insurgents” believed to have been responsible for shooting down the helicopter on August 6 in which the Navy SEALS were flying has now been killed. It has been reported that one shot downed the aircraft. The U.S. military is seeking one more insurgent believed to have been involved in the takedown.
A writer for the UK Telegraph has opined that putative Vice President Joe Biden might have inadvertently revealed who had killed Osama bin Laden on May 1 and made the SEALs a retaliatory target for insurgents. Others have editorialized in a similar vein.
Photos of those who lost their lives during the mission can be found here. All were under age 40, and many left behind wives and very young children.
A former Navy SEAL shared his thoughts about the incident by stating, “We don’t mourn like ‘normal people’ do.” Another retired SEAL called the take-down a “huge blow” because among them, those lost possessed “200-250 years of experience.”
Editor’s Note: The Post & Email extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends on the loss of the Navy SEALS and all members of the military who have been killed in combat in recent wars.