An after-action review of the deadly SEAL Team 6 raid of a terrorist compound in Yemen shows that the Jan. 29 mission was not compromised, but it also concludes that the enemy was more ready to fight than expected and that women in one building surprised the commandos by firing weapons.
A house for family members within the terrorist compound was deemed not a major concern, based on an assumption that civilians would not likely fight, a U.S. military source told The Washington Times.
From The Washington Times
The SEAL team had hoped to collect more digital intelligence data, but a fierce firefight prevented a fuller search-and-seizure operation.
Special operations forces recently had conducted only one known counterterrorism ground raid against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. Experience about what exactly to expect from AQAP fighters was lacking.
In the days after the mission, during which Navy Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was killed and a V-22 Osprey destroyed, press reports said fighters could be heard on a communications net, or “chatter,” saying they knew the SEALs were coming.
But the military source said that U.S. Central Command’s official review found no evidence of any such communication coming out of or going into the targeted compound.
“Whether or not someone heard something from the air, there’s no reason for us to believe anyone in the compound was aware or heard those kinds of things,” said the source. “The team was on the ground for some amount of time before the firefight started.”
Using a hypothetical, the military source said that, if sentry patrols around a compound do not suddenly get ready for battle, then “we have a sense we have not been detected.”
“It erupted very quickly at a time you might expect it to when some members of the team had been on the ground for some amount of time,” the source said. “What we know is we have no indication of any prior knowledge or comprise in advance.”
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that he personally received and discussed the after-action results and lessons-learned assessment submitted by his staff and commanders. Based on the findings, he testified, he sees no reason to order a more formal investigation.
The mission became instantly controversial, with the mainstream news media depicting the first counterterrorism raid of the Trump administration as fundamentally flawed.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, Arizona Republican and a persistent Trump critic, labeled the mission a “failure.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer called it a “success” because of the seized intelligence on AQAP, which is dedicated to attacking the U.S. homeland. The terrorist group has attracted Sunni Muslim members by capitalizing on the civil war in Yemen, which is pitting Shiite rebels against the government.
The U.S. military source told The Times that the nighttime insertion did not lose the element of surprise.
But, the source added: “At a certain point, this becomes more kinetic than we expected. But that doesn’t mean there was a compromise. Perhaps the folks in the compound were more trained, prepared for a fight, not this fight, but a fight. Maybe they were more ready to fight, and they had established firing positions perhaps more than we would have expected.”
“Not compromised,” the source said, “but at a state of preparedness to enter into a fight that was probably unanticipated. When you talk about lessons learned, that is one of them. Maybe for any future such things that might occur in Yemen, we’ll probably put that into our knowledge and assumptions of what you might expect.”
From The Washington Times