Going out on a limb here but this is the word on the street. I wasn't going to say anything about this but at the insistence of a MARSOF SGM I've worked with and for whom I have a great deal of respect, here goes . . . S.L.
Operation Red Wing took place in the Pech District of Afghanistan's Kunar Province, on the slopes of a mountain named Sawtalo Sar, approximately 20 miles west of the provincial capital Asadabad, in June-July 2005. The goal of Operation Red Wings was the disruption of Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) activity in the region in order to further aid the stabilization efforts of the region for the upcoming September 18, 2005 Afghan National Parliamentary Elections. At the time, Anti-Coalition Militia activity in the region was carried out most notably by a small group led by a local man from Nangarhar Province, Ahmad Shah, who had aspirations of regional Islamic fundamentalist prominence - NOT al Qaeda, not even NOT Taliban. Ahmad Shah and his small group were among the primary targets of the operation.
Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions in the 2005 operation. Michael Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The operation utilized special operations forces (SOF) units and assets, including US Navy SEALs and the US Army Special Operations Command's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). A team of four Navy SEALs, tasked for surveillance and reconnaissance of a group of structures known to be used by Ahmad Shah and his men. The SEALs, led by LT Michael Murphy (Marcus was the Corpsman) were compromised by a group of young goatherders just hours after inserting by fastrope from an MH-47 helicopter in the area - at this point discussions amongst the team included "Should we kill the goatherders?"
The SEALs let the goatherders go and were subsequently ambushed by Shah and his group. Three of the four SEALs were killed and a quick reaction force helicopter sent in for their aid was shot down with an RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade, killing all eight Navy SEALs and all eight US Army Special Operations aviators on board.
Questions being asked at all levels within the community: Why didn't the SEALs have a plan for on-call Tac Air? Why did they go in with mbiter radios - the smallest least effective radio comms available -(straight line-of-sight FM). The most basic rule of combat is shoot, move and communicate. Why didn't the SEALs cank the mission the minute they realized there was no comm's to the rear, and why did they not move to a pre-designated emergency exfil site? THESE ARE THE MOST BASIC OF PLANNING PRINCIPLES.
Nineteen special operators dead; why aren't the mission planners who prepared and launched this SEAL debacle being held accountable for this unnecessary loss of life? 100% casualties on a very low priority mission somehow equate into a box office hit . . . go figure. There is truly something to be said for the SEAL public relations machine. Instead of being relived of command, fired and possibly prosecuted for criminal negligence they are being promoted and given decorations for exemplary service . . . just like Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize . . . the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross have just been down graded into PR vehicle status.
Simple analysis would debunk Luttrell's sentiment; "My only regret is we didn't kill the goatherders." The whole issue of whether or not to kill the goatherders should have been addressed during the planning phase, prior to infil. What would that have accomplished? What would you that done with the hundred-odd goats? How would you have stopped the goats from finding their way back to the village WITHOUT their human counterparts? The fact of the matter is they were without comm's before being compromised - why stick around on a reconnaissance mission if you can't communicate back to higher?
These are my sentiments going back decades before this mission ever took place, based on earlier debacles in Grenada & Panama. Can anybody deny that this mission is yet another episode of SEAL incompetence? The joke is that SEAL stands for "Sleep-Eat & Lift" - SEALs do heroic PT and they might be great in the water but they simply do not understand the basics of ground combat.
That's what I have to say about it - what say you?