Families suspect SEAL Team 6 crash was inside job on worst day in Afghanistan

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But to insert commandos into a “hot” zone, specialized choppers such as the MH-47 and MH-60 flown by special operations pilots should have been used, family members say. Army Special Operations Aviation aircraft fly fast and low, while the CH-47D descends to a landing zone from a significant height, making it an easy target.

A special operations commander told Gen. Colt that, of the CH-47D, his “comfort level is low because they don’t fly like ARSOA. They don’t plan like ARSOA. They don’t land like ARSOA. They will either, you know, kind of do a runway landing. Or if it’s a different crew that trains different areas, they will do the pinnacle landing.”

The officer said conventional choppers make commandos less effective.

“It’s tough,” he told Gen. Colt. “I mean, and I gave them guidance to make it work. And they were making it work. But it limited our effectiveness. It made our options and our tactical flexibility — our agility was clearly limited by our air platform infil — where we could go. How quickly we could get there.”

Unlike the MH models, the CH-47D was not equipped with any defensive alert system against rocket-propelled grenades.

Gen. Colt’s own final report shows that MHs have a better track record, at least in the 45 days before the shoot-down.

On June 6, two CH-47s inserting troops into Tangi Valley aborted the mission after encountering fire from rocket-propelled grenades. Later that night, an ARSOA MH-47G encountered the fire while inserting troops to the same landing zone and reported no damage.

It is notable that the command sent the combat rescue, and ordnance disposal teams, to the crash site in MH-47s, not CHs, and that the 47 Rangers left the Tangi Valley in special operations choppers.

Mr. Hamburger said he was told that no MH models were available when Extortion 17 was tapped for its doomed flight.

The Colt report states that surveillance aircraft, likely a Predator drone, stayed fixed on the squirters and did not shift to 17’s landing spot to look for the enemy.

But Mr. Hamburger said a soldier told him he watched a Predator video feed of the shoot-down at a nearby base. If true, the father wants Central Command to turn over the video.

Mr. Hamburger cites as another motive for his push to obtain more information the rules of engagement for U.S. troops. He wants them changed.

Gunship crews cannot fire on fleeing Afghans before confirming they are carrying weapons, even though they obviously are Taliban fighters.

Such rules inhibited the Apaches and the C-130 gunship that night. The special operations commander in Kabul wanted to authorize a strike on the squirters, “but was unable to determine whether the group was armed,” the Colt report says. The commander then ordered the ill-fated SEAL mission to help the Rangers round up every one. More aggressive rules of engagement might have removed any need for the mission.

Moments after the shoot-down, an Apache pilot pinpointed the source of the rocket-propelled grenade, but could not fire.

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