Who betrayed Navy SEAL Team 6?

Operators from SEAL TEAM 6 / DEVGRU's Red Squadron
Operators from DEVGRU’s Red Squadron (Photo: XY)

What really happened to Navy SEAL Team 6? In August 2011, the elite special forces unit suffered the worst battlefield calamity in its history. A Taliban fighter shot down a Chinook helicopter carrying 22 Navy SEAL Team 6 members in Afghanistan.

All 38 persons onboard — the Navy SEAL warriors, other U.S. military personnel, and seven Afghan soldiers — were killed. Grieving family members have been demanding answers. They may now get some as Congress finally opens an investigation.

This was the original article written by Jeffrey T. Kuhner on Friday, August 9, 2013. The update is related to the fact check information provided by independent fact-checkers.

Controversial claims

Navy SEAL Team 6 has attained international prominence for one reason: They were responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. They are American heroes. Yet, their own government betrayed them. Several days after the bin Laden operation, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — in a pathetic attempt to spike the football and gloat — publicly revealed their central role in the raid. His revelations put a giant target on the backs of every Navy SEAL Team 6 member.

A covert unit, whose mission is to operate in the murky shadows, was exposed as the group that eliminated al Qaeda’s chief mastermind. Mr. Biden’s reckless actions — followed by President Obama’s own words acknowledging the secret unit’s operation — jeopardized the Navy SEALs’ safety. Jihadists bent on revenge began an intense manhunt. The hunters now became the hunted.

Controversy: Who betrayed Navy SEAL Team 6?
Who betrayed Navy SEAL Team 6: Members of Development Group (DEVGRU, Seal Team 6) – Illustration photo (Credits: XY)

Upon hearing of Mr. Biden’s disclosure, SEAL members were stunned. Many of them immediately contacted family members, warning them to eradicate all personal information from social-media sites. Aaron Vaughn, one of the SEALs eventually killed in the ambush, told his mother, Karen Vaughn, to delete every reference to SEAL Team 6 from her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“I never heard Aaron this concerned and worried in his entire life,” Mrs. Vaughn said in an interview. “He called me and said, ‘Mom, you and Dad have to take everything down. Biden has just put a huge target on everybody.’”

Tragically, Aaron Vaughn was right. Mr. Biden is often portrayed in the liberal media as an amiable buffoon. His gaffes are written off as Joe simply being Joe — a loveable uncle figure who has a tendency to shoot his mouth off.

That is pernicious nonsense. Mr. Biden is a cynical opportunist, who will say and do anything to advance Mr. Obama’s agenda. He hung the SEALs out to dry in order to score cheap political points. He compromised a highly sensitive, covert operation that ended up costing dozens of U.S. lives.

SEAL-gate is potentially a bigger scandal than Benghazi, Libya. The administration — along with the top military brass — are desperately trying to cover up what took place on that fateful raid. Taliban guerrillas were waiting for the Chinook as it approached its landing site. Apparently, someone tipped them off that the SEALs were coming; the helicopter was attacked from three sides in a coordinated ambush.

The U.S. military claimed that the Chinook was blown to pieces by a shoulder-fired missile, in which everyone on board was burned beyond recognition. Hence, senior military officials ordered the American bodies cremated without the prior approval of their family members.

The military’s narrative, however, is false. Charles Strange, whose son, Michael, died during the attack, says he viewed the pictures of the crash site. “I saw Mike’s dead body,” Mr. Strange said in an interview. “It was clearly recognizable. He was clutching his gun. He wasn’t burned to a crisp. Why did they cremate my boy? They didn’t need to do that. Something’s not right.”

There are numerous questions that need to be answered. Why was the Chinook’s black box never found? The military claims it was washed away in a flash flood. Impossible. Flash flooding is extremely rare — almost unheard of — in that part of Afghanistan. Why was the Chinook not given aerial backup, which is the standard military procedure when special forces are deployed?

Even more alarming, why were the seven Afghan soldiers who boarded the Chinook at the last minute different from those on the flight manifest? This clearly violated U.S. military protocol. Afghan strangers (al Qaeda suicide bombers?) got on that Chinook and potentially sabotaged the raid.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s regime has been infiltrated with al Qaeda sympathizers. Only the naive could dismiss the possibility of an inside job: Jihadi cash in exchange for information about the whereabouts of our SEALs. If our supposed ally cut a deal with the Taliban, resulting in the slaughter of U.S. troops, it would be a humiliating blow to Mr. Obama’s failed Afghanistan policy.

The distinctive black MH-47G Chinook special operations helicopter. The 160th SOAR (A) Night stalkers are the only unit in the world to operate this helicopte
The distinctive black MH-47G Chinook special operations helicopter. The 160th SOAR (A) Night stalkers are the only unit in the world to operate this helicopter (Photo: U.S. Army)

The most important question of all remains the strict rules of engagement. Why were U.S. troops deployed into battle in a Chinook jalopy made in the 1960s and ordered not to fire back at Taliban snipers? Washington has imposed such severe rules of engagement — the inability to fire into civilian areas, the refusal to conduct night operations, and the reluctance to confront the regular occurrence of Afghan soldiers deliberately shooting American personnel — that defeat is not only likely, but it’s also inevitable.

Congressional Republicans must get to the bottom of this burgeoning scandal. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Darrell E. Issa of California have now launched an official probe into the deaths of the SEALs. Thirty brave warriors honorably served their country — only to be betrayed. Those responsible must be exposed and punished. Justice demands it.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio commentator on WRKO AM-680 in Boston. This opinion was first published and appeared in The Washington Times.

UPDATE: Fact check (September 2020)

Biden did not leak the names of SEAL Team 6 members after Osama bin Laden’s death

According to the various fact-checkers, the claim that Joe Biden leaked the information about Navy SEAL Team 6 members who were killed in the Extortion 17 tragedy is false. Indeed, he is not responsible or involved in any of those claims.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Spec Ops Magazine.

8 comments
  1. I would seriously question the USA Today as an unbiased fact-checker. Also I would consider getting more than one “Fact-Checker’s” opinion on this before acquiescing to a checkers reliability.

  2. Besides that….fact checker libtards….any mention of Seal Team, let alone 6 absolutely should not have been done by ANYONE….especially the VP of the USA. Biden is absolutely responsible for the lives lost that day. He has a big mouth and dementia, hence his totally off the wall out bursts even in present day. He needs to be held accountable to these men and their families! EVERY.STINKIN.ONE!!!

  3. Read the transcript of the speech in question, and you’ll see that Biden credited “Navy SEALs,” not a particular unit and certainly not any individual operators. If you don’t like USA Today, try Politifact, Reuters, and Snopes, all of which have covered this false claim:

    https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/aug/12/facebook-posts/no-biden-did-not-leak-names-seal-team-6-members-al/
    https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-biden-navy-seal/false-claim-biden-revealed-identities-of-navy-seal-team-six-idUSKBN22W2AI
    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/joe-biden-seal-team-6-reveal/

  4. You’d have to question what the USA was doing in Afghanistan to begin with.

    Perhaps these grunts got their just desserts in the end. As for shooting Bin Laden, hilarious. That ghost has been dead for years, but the gullible yankees will believe anything.

    That’s all folks!

  5. Several Gold Squadron guys have debunked the theories that the crash was an inside job. Just an RPG

  6. Yes, and the theories about the betrayal of the Seal Team 6 has been proven to be wrong by various sources and fact-checked by multiple independent sources.

  7. This article is a load of nonsense. The Taliban had no idea who was on the helicopter. This helo was the IRF for a Ranger operation that had commenced about an hour earlier, and there were limited areas in that valley where a Chinook could land, so it was a no-brainer to station a few fighters at each. As the helo slowed to land, they fired a volley of RPGs at it. One hit the rear rotor assembly. The Chinook crashed into a creek bed. (And yes there was a flood in that creek bed that washed away a lot of debris.) The bodies WERE burned beyond recognition. The bird burned all night. I know this because I was with the Task Force sitting in the JOC at Camp Alpha when it happened. I watched it all unfold from the ISR feed, and I later saw the gun camera footage from the AWT helos (Apaches) that were orbiting the HLZ in support. It was a lucky shot, nothing more. Tragic, but in war the enemy gets a vote.

  8. This is by far the most ludicrous example of “fact-based”journalism, reporting, or anything remotely resembling news.

    I always assume authors on these sites are conservative; and that’s fine. I’ve read other summaries of SOF & SF units here and they managed to remain politically neutral if not also slightly generic. I’m a liberal California democrat who likes & respects firearms, appreciates the immediately brutal but highly nuanced DNA engineered & bred into the rifles needed by our military servicemen and women even when they’re so often withheld in lieu of something cheaper, less reliable, antiquated, impersonal, distressed, and rendered even more deadly for American soldiers through the dependable process of bureaucratic bastardization (ie from ArmaLite to M16). I’m not a Hawk, but if Congress insists we allocate billions USD to military R&D, I’d rather it go towards replacing every M16A2-4, M4A1, & Beretta M9 trickling into the USMC with the HK416/7, Sig553, and FN handgun rather than 19 pointless fighter jets that will rarely do more than explode in training exercises. Or we could have designed the original digital camouflage pattern rather than stealing CADPAT to finally replace Tiger Stripe with the equally ineffective UCP/ACU. Is the UGL320 now universal or will most rifleman still carry the UGL203? At least we can still rely on the HUMVEE to direct IED blasts upwards & away fro—wait no, I was thinking of The UK’s new vehicle fleet.

    We know how much the last administration respected POWs, veterans, Lucky Swift Boat Captains without bone spurs, amputees, the psychologically traumatized, & especially Senator McCain, so it stands to reason that the Fiscal conservatism of Reps like Darrel Issa probably benefited the VA. That makes the most sense since there’s been no direct evidence linking those massive tax cuts to funding cuts in government programs or profit increases for the family members of Blackwater CEO, Eric Prince—like sister and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Who wouldn’t agree that the facts are all right there between the lines?

    As for SEAL-gate, it IS unbelievable that both men overwhelmingly elected to office would announce to the entire world that 1 of just 10 Navy Seal Teams—only one of which is the most internationally recognized American Tier 1 SF unit since Reagan told the USSR about them in the 80s—was responsible for dispatching the most wanted terrorist & mass murderer in world history. As soon as Obama announced it, we all knew immediately that he’d milk that to try winning another election. It’s like…let it go right? It’s not like he stood on rubble and yelled through a megaphone in front of the American Flag while saying he was “America’s President” right? What kind of President of the United States plug his own accomplishment for such obvious personal gain?! It’s almost as heinous a scandal as if one of the DEVGRU operators wrote a book falsely claiming to have fired the heroic kill shot from the floor while ducking bullets from an AK-74. Or if the producers of a blockbuster movie about the raid had learned highly classified information from top CIA Officials who wouldn’t stop openly congratulating themselves and ST6’s specific breaching tactics during an open CIA event.

    And if we’re getting down to “brass tacks,” you’re saying that President Biden is the reason why an ancient chinook—neither variant of which has a “BLACK BOX”—was brought down specifically because SEALs were suddenly targets?! So normal Americans or 75th Rangers or MARSOC or 24th STS would’ve been fine? Or did the Taliban only want SEALs? And did they just want DEVGRU or did they want the tier-2 SEALs also?

    Or maybe when the Taliban fired a single RPG into a chinook in 2005 during Op Red Wings because 4 operators from ST5/10 seemingly got ambushed after zip-tying some goat herders after Lutrell lost his rifle before emptying any of his 11 magazines because….they realized how easy it is to track tier 2 SEALs using helicopters that were audible from the Pashtun village below. The Taliban learned everything they needed from that: attack American soldiers, chinook comes FULL of SEALs without any gunships to rescue them over unmanageable terrain, gigantic door opens, boom.

    It’s horribly tragic for the families and I’m not trying to mock their loss. They were killed by the same formidable enemy as always…months after actual tier-1 DEVGRU SEALs killed Bin Laden in Pakistan before getting exfil by a chinook (pattern?) because they crashed their classified tech black Hawk.

    Tier 2 SEALs had been spending years training Afghan SF that had ties to the Taliban (because literally everyone did)…I bet Afghan forces with Taliban moles or spies or even scouts learned how predictable SOCOM & JSOC operations could be in that region. So in November 2011, Military forces need emergency backup in terribly inhospitable conditions and do exactly what they’d done for years…send a chinook even more full with SF operators to where the Taliban are waiting….hover…open your huge bay door for the slowest possible helocasting exercise at the lowest altitude in the largest helicopter without supporting gunships….the Taliban could’ve used a grenade in a slingshot and had nearly the same result.

    Most bodies would’ve been burned beyond what a family could endure. Maybe a few weren’t burned as badly…but that’s an awkward funeral (“sorry you just get the urn, but it’s their lucky day!! You get your son’s whole body!!”) No. They were brothers that died together. They’ll be buried together.

    The tragedy isn’t my mockery of a horrible situation. It’s not even the mistakes command might have made that maybe could’ve prevented this outcome. The tragedy is you using a 10yr old massacre to spread the mind-blowingly stupid and pretty evil conspiracy theory that their current commander in chief, former vice commander in chief, and father to a deceased combat veteran…that he sold out two dozen of America’s elitest warriors to the Taliban because why? Because Obama rhymes with Osama? I have nothing good to say about Trump, but even I wouldn’t accuse him of such a ludicrous accusation.

    How does this conversation go down with the ladies? Fucking pathetic. Go play your Arma MilSim.

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