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Assessment

In the families’ eyes, the mission was snakebit from the start: using sing the wrong aircraft; flying into an uninspected and unwatched landing zone infested with Taliban fighters assembling a plan and a reaction team in minutes for an action that should have been conducted hours earlier.

The Times asked a special operations officer for his opinion. He is on active duty and cannot speak on the record.

“In this case, the CH-47 was used in a completely inappropriate manner given its design and the result was the deaths of everyone aboard,” the officer said.

“Tier 1 personnel must be employed with careful planning,” he added. “The cost and time to train them means that using them in such a haphazard manner as a reaction force in this context places critical personnel at too great a risk, especially in this concentration on such a noncritical mission.”

SEAL Team 6 and Army Delta Force are considered Tier 1 personnel as the armed forces’ most elite counterterrorism units.

Asked how a Taliban at night could hit the 98-foot-long Chinook, he said, “I never questioned how he could aim. There’s is no such thing as ‘pitch black’ and the CH-47 airframe is a loud, enormous target.”

Gen. Colt’s legal adviser began one interview session with ground troops by saying, “Obviously, we got a general officer appointed duty investigation by CENTCOM to make sure we have all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed and our report is going to be as accurate and complete and unlikely to be second-guessed by a bunch of folks outside the military.”

A month after the worst day in the war, the U.S. gained revenge of a sort. The NATO command in Kabul announced that it had killed Tahir with a precise airstrike as he stood outside with a fellow terrorist.