Tag Archives: infiltration

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Former Army Green Beret Offers His Take on Deadly Navy SEALs Mission — Extortion 17

Thirty Americans died in Afghanistan Aug. 6, 2011, according to a DoD news release issued five days later.  All had been aboard a U.S. military helicopter, call sign “Extortion 17.”   Among those on board were 25 Special Operations Forces personnel, including 17 U.S. Navy SEALs.  Though it became the most-deadly incident in the history of Naval Special Warfare, it has received scant public attention.

Click on image to read DoD News Release Aug. 11, 2011.

Click on image to read DoD News Release Aug. 11, 2011.

As a former Air Force public affairs officer, I have virtually no first-hand familiarity with SOF, though I have had many opportunities to speak with SOF members and even wrote a book, Three Days In August, about one of them.

Today, I count as friends many veterans boasting decades of SOF experience under their belts.  In an email message yesterday, one of those friends, a former Army Green Beret, shared his expert observations and raised some serious questions about the extremely-controversial of the Extortion 17 mission.  The text of his sometimes-graphic message appears below:

What makes Special Operations Forces (SOF) great is the attention to detail — every detail.

All SOF missions require isolation prior to missions.  In my community, we isolated all parties involved until wheels up.  Our host-nation military guys never knew where we were going or who was going until we got off the aircraft, vehicle, boat, etc.  No need to tell them, because you train for many different types of missions (i.e., raid, ambush, hostage rescue, etc.).  The person or place doesn’t matter.

On a typical mission, the team conducts mission planning down to infiltration and exfiltration.   We, the team, decide how it will be done.  We, the team, submit our plan to our group commander who, depending on risk assessment and who it is we are going after, contacts the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF).   Every theater has one.  The CJSOTF person makes direct contact with the Secretary of Defense.  Once the “green light” is given for the plan, it is the responsibility of CJSOTF to arrange the assets needed to conduct the mission.   Once the team is notified of the green light, “dry runs” are conducted — if, that is, it isn’t a time-sensitive mission.  The dry runs involve everyone on the team.

Half the team conducts infiltration, actions on the objective and exfiltration with host-nation personnel.  At no time are the host-nation personnel told the mission’s five W’s — who, what, where, when and why.   Meanwhile, the other half of the team gets current intelligence reports and works to coordinate needed assets (i.e., air, MEDEVAC, artillery, fast movers, etc.).

Generally, two to three team members go to the aviation unit and conduct an “air brief” with the commander of the aviation unit as well as their intelligence, weather and flight operations personnel.  There, they are briefed on the five W’s and instructed by team members about where and how they will fly, where they will land, the location of pick-up points and about contingencies.  They are given Rules of Engagement for the escort gun ships on “gun runs,” and the communication frequency for all is shared at this time.

Once the air brief is completed, those personnel link back up with the whole team for a mission brief.  After final checks are done, movement to the flight line takes place.  Weapons are placed in “red” status (i.e., has a round in the chamber and the safety is on), communication is checked,  accountability is checked, and away you go.

Now, there is a large distinction between a Green Beret mission and a Navy SEALs mission. Green Berets primarily train and conduct various missions with host-nation soldiers.  SEALs and Delta primarily do not.  Delta uses Ranger Regiment, and SEALs use more of their own — or Green Beret or some host-nation personnel.  In all of my time with SOF, I never saw a SEAL team conduct a mission with host-nation personnel UNLESS the SEALs were assigned to us.

I have worked with, through, and by SEALs, and I’m sure every SEAL has done the same with Green Berets.  My point:  The SEALs were directed by someone to take these host-nation troops with them.  Now, that same person allowed those personnel to change out.  This violates the Mission Decision-Making Process, the Bible for all military operations.

Now I know the family is upset about the age of the aircraft and the fact it was a “D” model versus an “H” model.   The ONLY unit with the MH-47H is the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), a group known as the Night Stalkers.  While every SOF unit (i.e., Green Beret, SEAL, Delta) team requests them for their missions, there are not enough of those aircraft to meet all of the requests.

When the team says they are doing a air infiltration, they request the air assets required. Prior to the air brief, they will know what platforms are available.  For instance, they will be told, “You asked for 10 helicopters and you only get 3,” or “You asked for fast movers at 0330 hrs, but they can’t get on station until 0415 hrs,” and so on.  By the end of the briefing, team members know who is available to cover their asses all the way down to the drone in the sky.

The MH-47H is a SOF-only aircraft built specifically for night operations.  It emits a small radar signature and carries formidable countermeasures, including — but not limited to — two mini-guns and one .50-caliber machine gun.  All crew members, including the flight crew, are assigned and trained by SOF.

Conversely, crew members aboard the CH-47D come from the ranks of the conventional forces and are not trained in the MH-47H capabilities.  The CH-47D is equipped with basic countermeasures, including two 5.56mm M249 SAW machine guns.  That’s it!

To be in the 160th, everyone — pilots included — must pass the same rigorous selection process as everyone else in SOF.  Pilots, who go through Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion (SERE) School, must have been a regular aviation  brigade member for at least four years before applying.  In most cases, and depending upon the risk assessment, non-SOF aircraft would not be allowed to go on missions involving high-value targets in hostile areas.  Long and short, the CJSOTF air commander would be the one coordinating this, responsible to locate and coordinate all air assets to include Quick-Reaction Force (QRF) air frames as well as fast movers, drones, etc.

U.S. Navy SEALs offload an all-terrain vehicle from an MH-47 Chinook helicopter following a village-clearing operation in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. Operations such as these are conducted in order to promote the Government of Afghanistan, while denying Taliban influence throughout the province. The SEALs are with Special Operations Task Force ? South. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel P. Shook/Released)

U.S. Navy SEALs offload an all-terrain vehicle from an MH-47 Chinook helicopter following a village-clearing operation in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. Operations such as these are conducted in order to promote the Government of Afghanistan, while denying Taliban influence throughout the province. The SEALs are with Special Operations Task Force ? South. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel P. Shook/Released)

By now, you’re asking, “What does all of this mean?”  The items below explain things in a nutshell while raising important questions:

1) No aircraft goes out without escorts or layers of escorts.

2) The team commander had to be ordered to take host-nation personnel with him and to change out those personnel.  Who gave that order?

3) Someone in the aviation unit would also have to approve the manifest change and would have the name of the person who authorized the change on the manifest.  Who changed the manifest?

4) When, until now, was there ever a funeral with U.S. and host-nation personnel together.  In all of my time in combat, I never saw it happen.  Why did it happen in this case?

5) How many personnel since this war started has the government cremated?  Again, I personally worked a crash with four U.S. personnel and one host-nation soldier that burned.  I personally pulled three torsos out of the wreckage — there were no legs, arms or skull above the jaws — and I placed them into three separate body bags.  I waited for the the forensic doctor who would perform the autopsy to arrive and, for four hours, we sifted through the wreckage for the remaining body parts and personnel effects.  We had a sixth bag that we put the pieces in for DNA testing.  I went to the funeral for the four U.S. personnel.  The host nation held a funeral at a mosque on the installation.  I tell you this to let you know great care is given to the dead, no matter how the person dies or how gruesome it is.  Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman deserves to rest on American soil, and deserves to come home.

6)  What assets were deployed to recover the personnel and what was the time line for those efforts?

7)  The operations order would have listed a QRF assigned to the mission.  Who were they and from what base/location did they come?

These are but a few of the questions that remain about Extortion 17.

During a May 9 news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., several family members of the fallen warriors raised similar questions and were joined by a number of high-ranking, now-retired SOF members who did the same.  The news conference is captured in its entirety in the 3-hour video below.   Worth every minute of time you spend watching it, I hope you will watch it, share it and demand your elected officials in Washington obtain answers from the Pentagon and the Obama Administration to the questions raised about Extortion 17.

Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story above was published for the first time June 4, 2013. I share it again today, because Americans need to remember it and not be satisfied until they get answers.

SEE ALSO: Did Afghan Officials Play Role in ‘Extortion 17′ Deaths?

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Bloody Massacres Generate ‘Solutions’ to Muslim Problem

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a guest post by Paul R. Hollrah, a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico whose life experience includes having served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. Even if you disagree with him, this piece will make you think long and hard.

The word balloon of the cartoon that appeared on the cover of the Nov. 3, 2011, issue of Charlie Hebdo -- renamed Charia Hebdo ("Sharia Hebdo") -- reads "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!"

In French, the word balloon of the cartoon on the cover of the Nov. 3, 2011, issue of Charlie Hebdo — renamed Charia Hebdo (“Sharia Hebdo”) — reads “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”

The recent bloody massacres at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher grocery store in Paris, have spawned a number of solutions to the “Muslim problem,” some totally useless and pointless and others quite draconian.

Typical of the useless and pointless solution was that offered by Pope Francis as he spoke to reporters aboard a recent flight from Sri Lanka to the Philippines. Referencing the atrocities in Paris, he first took both sides of the issue, expressing the belief that, while “freedom of religion and freedom of expression are both fundamental human rights,” if someone says something unkind about your mother the normal reaction is to “punch him in the nose.” He concluded by saying, “You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith.”

In other words, Christians and Jews are not to show disrespect for Islam or Mohammed, but we must accept that Muslims will continue to slaughter Christians and Jews at will. If such atrocities represent what the pope might consider akin to an “unkind comment about one’s mother” by radical Islamists, then what would he suggest as a proper “punch in the nose?”

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the comments of conservative rock star, Ted Nugent, a board member of the National Rifle Association and an outspoken critic of liberals, Democrats, and Barack Obama. In a Jan. 14, 2015, blog, titled “Save the Planet: Kill the Muslim Third Reich,” Nugent refers to his solution as “anti-rabid dog common sense.”

Setting the stage for his final solution, Nugent tells us, “I personally don’t care if you stand on your head and recite Shakespeare backwards, marry your beagle, stack BBs, French kiss rattlesnakes, or swan dive into a shallow vat of goat urine. If that’s what turns your religious crank, party on. Just do it downwind from me, and don’t bill me for your rehab.” He goes on to say, “But when it comes to the pure demonic evil of murderous savage Islamic terrorists, the line is universally drawn by good people worldwide. We all know instinctively that there is no virtue in slaughtering innocent people. No God smiles or rejoices in this.”

Introducing his solution to the problem, Nugent writes, “I’ll admit I’m not opposed to putting hollow points to the back of the heads of human cockroaches and various other vermin who wish to imprison me with their brain-dead, toxic ‘values.’ Truth is, I want to eliminate them from planet Earth and erase them from the history books of the human race… Everyone knows that there is no cure for rabid dogs except a bullet. The question the free world needs to ask is whether we are going to shoot the rabid dog or have the rabid dog chew our faces off.”

He concludes by saying, “My advice: kill ‘em all and let Satan sort ‘em out… Make no mistake; the world is in a race to the finish with crazed, rabid radical Muslims. The choice is simple: It’s religious freedom or subjugation, persecution or death… No more kicking the can down the road for the next generation. There comes a time for all good men and women to rise up and oppose evil. That time is now. It is our time. Americans must show the world the difference between respecting choices in lifestyle versus bending over and welcoming an evil takeover. This rabid, voodoo threat is very real and right in front of us. We must not shoot just one or two rabid dogs, but to save the human race we must kill them all…”

Clearly, the approach recommended by Pope Francis does nothing more than to postpone the ultimate demise of the civilized world, while the approach suggested by Nugent hardly merits discussion. To think that we could declare open season on Muslims and then proceed to kill more than two million of them is sheer madness. Instead, we must resolve to find a solution that is doable and effective, in spite of the weaknesses of our national leaders.

In their joint press conference Jan. 16, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed a desire to continue working toward multicultural societies in their respective countries. The Prime Minister expressed a willingness to spend two generations attempting to fully assimilate their Muslim immigrant population. Obama agreed, although he was still unable to use the words “Islamic” and “extremist” in the same sentence.

Neither man was willing to recognize that western nations have been attempting to assimilate Muslims for at least seventy years, more than three generations. Instead, while they continue to speak glowingly about “assimilation,” Muslims view their migration to western nations as “infiltration.”  What Obama and Cameron fail to acknowledge is that they live and work inside security “bubbles.” Unlike their fellow countrymen, they don’t have to worry about the swarthy-complexioned man in the bulky jacket at the shopping mall, or the burqa-clad Muslim woman seated next to them on a bus. They don’t have to wonder whether their clothes are just bulky, or if they conceal a suicide vest capable of killing dozens of people.

Hoping to learn a bit more about the motivation for attacks such as those on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish grocery store, Daily Beast reporter Dana Kennedy traveled to several Parisian suburbs heavily populated by French-Algerian Muslims. She interviewed a cross section of young men who were convinced that the attacks were a conspiracy by Jews designed to make Muslims look bad. One Muslim told her that the Jews who staged the attacks were not just “regular” Jews, they were “a race of magical Jews, shape-shifting Jews,” who were “master manipulators” and who could be “everywhere at the same time.”

It is fanatics such as these who are motivated, in part, by the promise that they will each receive 72 virgins upon entering Heaven. How does one accommodate such ignorance? The answer is, we can’t.

If we are to find a middle road between what Pope Francis and Nugent suggest, our first goal must be to reach consensus on who and what the enemy is. Unlike the opinion of apologists for radical and moderate Muslims, Islam is not a religion as we understand the term. Rather it is a complete political, legal, economic, military, and cultural system with a religious component. Its adherents refuse to assimilate into host-country cultures, insisting that they be allowed to exist as an independent entity, not subject to the laws of their host countries. In order to accomplish their ends, they regularly preach the overthrow of their host nations, by violence if necessary.

Accordingly, western democracies must resolve that Islam is incompatible with cultures built on Judeo-Christian principles. In the United States, we must resolve that, “What is sauce for the (Communist) goose is sauce for the (Islamic) gander.” In order to neutralize and reverse Islam’s cultural infestation, a good starting point would be to tailor the language of Section 2 of the Communist Control Act of 1954… a law that has not been struck down by the courts and which is still on the books… to read as follows:

The American people are determined to eliminate from their midst organizations which, purporting to be ‘religious,’ in the accepted sense of that term, are conspirators dedicated to the destruction of our form of government by force and violence…

“The Congress hereby finds and declares that Islam, although purportedly a religious sect, is in fact an instrumentality of a foreign conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States. It constitutes an authoritarian dictatorship within a republic, demanding for itself the rights and privileges accorded to individuals of other religious denominations, but denying to all others the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…

“As a segment of the U.S. population, Islam is relatively small, numerically, and gives scant indication of its capacity ever to attain its ends by lawful means. The peril inherent in the existence of Islam arises not from its numbers, but from its failure to acknowledge any limitation as to the nature of its activities, and its dedication to the proposition that the present system of government of the United States ultimately must be brought to ruin by any available means, including resort to force and violence. Holding that doctrine, its role as the agency of a hostile foreign ideology renders its existence a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. It is the means whereby individuals are seduced into the service of Islam, trained to do its bidding, and directed and controlled in the conspiratorial performance of their revolutionary services. Therefore, the organization known as Islam shall be outlawed in the United States.”

With that statute on the books, making the practice or the promotion of Islam illegal, we can make it very uncomfortable for radical Islamists. We can make their presence in our country so unpleasant that they will long for a return to whatever hellhole they and their predecessors crawled out of; they will self-repatriate in increasingly large numbers. With eyes and ears planted in every mosque and every Muslim cultural center in America, radical Imams such as the late Anwar al-Awlaki could be readily identified and FBI agents could quickly make arrests.

According to the story of the Tower of Babel, beginning in Genesis 11:6 (NKJV), God was displeased by efforts of a Hebrew tribe to build a tower that would reach the heavens, God looked down upon the Earth, and said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

Inasmuch as radicalized Muslims have let it be known that all non-Muslims must either submit to them or die, and so-called “moderate” Muslims have refused to restrain their murderous brethren, perhaps it is time we reenacted the story of Babel, quarantining all Muslims to a portion of the Earth in which all of the competing tribes of Islam can settle their differences… peacefully or violently.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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