Michael's Dispatches

Onward

85 Comments

2011-07-28-152910-2-1000aOperation Flintlock

06 August 2011
Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

A tragic loss of dozens of Americans and Afghan partners has occurred.  Apparently their helicopter was shot down during a raid.  The investigation is underway.

This sad day will not deter or slow US forces.  No doubt that tonight other helicopter assaults are underway.    The image above was made last weekend just minutes before we infiltrated using CH-47 helicopters – similar to the helicopter that was just lost – into the middle of a Taliban stronghold.  During the next two days there were 27 firefights.  4-4CAV lost one Soldier KIA and two others wounded.  The enemy faired far worse.

These missions are dangerous.  This is the profession of arms and this is war.  Everyone here knows the risks.  The Soldiers here and I would do another such mission tonight.  It’s time to pay our respects and move forward to prosecute the enemy.

Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    Why on earth were 40 elite troops in 1 helicopter? If I was Obama that would be my first question.

    Troops of this quality are precious - on the face of it, it seems crazy to risk so many in one helo.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 7 years ago
    Charles,

    Next time we should consider sending 40 helicopters with one troop each.

    This is war. We take our chances.

    Michael
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorene · 7 years ago
    A sad day indeed. RIP Warriors, my prayers are with the families and friends. Stay safe Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry · 7 years ago
    My heart goes out to all the troops who put their lives on the line every day and night. You will not be forgotten and prayers and comfort to the families and extended families of these brave men.
    Thank you Michael for continuing to give your time and energy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Whealon · 7 years ago
    Amen, Michael...Charlie Mike...hoooaahh
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tony · 7 years ago
    Why 40 SPECOPS in one helo?
    Because this was one MF mission!
    Unfortunately, as it's SPECOPS, we will never know what that mission was.
    RIP to those brave soldiers, and prayers for those left behind.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    joe · 7 years ago
    To those friends and families who lost loved ones reading this I would like to extend my condolences. May you find healing and peace. Your life will never be the same but it will get better.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    hc Bright · 7 years ago
    that this were only a joke, it's entirely possible,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chase · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Michael Yon"]Charles,

    Next time we should consider sending 40 helicopters with one troop each.

    This is war. We take our chances.

    Michael[/quote]

    Mr. Yon you're the man, but that was a ridiculous thing to say; no one is suggesting a soldier per chopper.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ian · 7 years ago
    Simple logistics. The CH-47s are built to carry a lot of troops and they are limited in number at any one time/location.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rick · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Charles"]Why on earth were 40 elite troops in 1 helicopter? If I was Obama that would be my first question.

    With all due respect, Obama doesn't give a damn.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matt · 7 years ago
    Right on Michael! More birds in the air means more attraction to the situation! Spec OP guys operate in small formations! Like Michael said everyone knows the risks that are possible when they join our military to fight for freedom!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jesse · 7 years ago
    @Charles - Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman out there in harms way is precious. It would not have mattered if they were 25 ordinary grunts, it would still be a tragedy of the highest order. I'm sure you didn't mean your statement the way it came across.

    Semper Fi Seal Team 6. You died doing your job. Its all anyone can ask for.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pocohontas · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Chase"][quote name="Michael Yon"]Charles,

    Next time we should consider sending 40 helicopters with one troop each.

    This is war. We take our chances.

    Michael[/quote]

    Mr. Yon you're the man, but that was a ridiculous thing to say; no one is suggesting a soldier per chopper.[/quote]

    Guy was being ridiculous in his comment. Maybe the post just made Mike go "PUH-LEASE" kinda like it did me. MY first reaction was "how ridiculous! What they're supposed to only have 4 or 5 guys per chopper? Get real!" Mike wasn't being ridiculous - ask a ridiculous question & get a ridiculous comment. Go off the wall w/ some lame brain comment and ya mite get one in return. Jes sayin.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Craig · 7 years ago
    I was trained in the post Vietnam Army and as I remember CH-47's were withdrawn from combat opns for Judy that reason losses were too high, it was a big target, it was extremely loud. It's only advantage was it could operate at higher altitudes and of course had a large payload. I did a tour in Afghanistan and did a lot of traveling in Chnooks. Even then it seemed risky.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Craig · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Craig"]I was trained in the post Vietnam Army and as I remember CH-47's were withdrawn from combat opns for Judy that reason losses were too high, it was a big target, it was extremely loud. It's only advantage was it could operate at higher altitudes and of course had a large payload. I did a tour in Afghanistan and did a lot of traveling in Chnooks. Even then it seemed risky.[/quote]
    Just not Judy. Sorry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gene · 7 years ago
    Does anyone really think this 'war' is worth the costs? There is nothing that looks remotely like an acceptable outcome, just a stalling tactic for political reasons. Bring them home, rain down death from above if our security is threatened from anywhere in the AfPak region. Bring them home.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 7 years ago
    My webmaster has had longstanding instructions to delete comments with gratuitous profanity. There is also a longstanding instruction to delete random advertisements and completely unrelated posts. (For instance, special interest groups often try to hijack threads to talk about abortion, whaling, and so forth. There is a time and place for such discussions.)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shawn Alladio · 7 years ago
    Thank you for sharing this image. It's a powerful display of movement. I appreciate what these men (and women) are doing, thier dedication, willingness to conduct a job that most of us will not, doing it for our children, our nation. Thanks for going the distance and capturing the energy of truth.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandra · 7 years ago
    Great Photo that lets us see it like it was. The military budget it seems in the latest fiasco in Washington will be cut so of course men are more expendable then machinery. But you are right this was a mission that had to be done in the best possible way for the situation. It is easy to be an arm chair quarterback in calling the shots but reality is different. God Bless those soldiers and their families. They belonged to us all and we all grive for the lost of those precious lives.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    VNAF · 7 years ago
    Why in heavens name would they release the information that they were members of Seal Team 6? Now they are chanting that they have gotten revenge for the killing of Osama...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Redwine · 7 years ago
    What sad and terrible loss.

    Is it normal to have notoriously untrustworthy Afghan forces on the same heli with so many of our elite troops?

    Somehow, I feel down in my gut, that there was a leak or security breach.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James F. McClellan · 7 years ago
    Mike,

    Thanks for the photo and dispatch. Please tell the troops that we appreciate them and are praying for them and trying to elect leaders worthy of them.

    And Mike ... Stay Safe!

    James F. McClellan
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Manuela · 7 years ago
    Deepest and sincere condolences to family and friends
    Rest in pace ;-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Manuela · 7 years ago
    The stupid smile was a typo sorry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    bob burr · 7 years ago
    When I heard that a Ch 47 was down I thought of you... relieved to see you are well.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    usmc dad · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Charles"]Why on earth were 40 elite troops in 1 helicopter? If I was Obama that would be my first question...[/quote]

    Obama?? You know how many of our troops assume he MADE SURE seal team 6 couldn't tell tales??? This nation isn't long for the maps people, 2012 is do-or-die time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex · 7 years ago
    Any evidence of MANPADs (Anza MK3) being used? This was a night operation. Assuming these are seasoned pilots, the chances of downing a moving CH47 at altitude seem remote. Definitely suspicious...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Adam Neira · 7 years ago
    Prayers for the US Forces personnel lost in this terrible attack.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carol · 7 years ago
    Thank you, Michael. I just wish this
    could teach those running the war certain lessons about our enemy, once and for all.
    One too frequently feels our troops are not getting the support and backing they must have.why, I wonder, are we afraid of the goal and the word, "Victory"?
    Bless all of their families and the others serving for us so we can be free.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mike · 7 years ago
    Alex,

    Oftentimes they position themselves to take a short-range, easy shot during infil or exfil as this is when they are vulnerable. Being this was a QRF mission, they likely assumed more acft were coming. (not sharing any secrets that the enemy doesn't know quite well)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    EdofVenice · 7 years ago
    Way to jump to conclusions without any facts. Give the Afghan commandos the benefit of the doubt. If they're willing to hang with SEALs then they are some hard, dedicated men.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex · 7 years ago
    @mike Thanks for the info.

    Alex
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pat · 7 years ago
    Too many critical assets to put in one bird. Tactically, should have been split up in other helo - course don't know the circumstances. Certainly never should have mentioned Seal Team 6 for OPSEC. Too bad not having a C-130 Spectre for fire support/supression. Heart goes out to families and my Navy brothers lost.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    sergeantshintabet · 7 years ago
    I'm not getting any of this. a full raid package bundled on a Chinook hovering around as IRF? Who was "in contact"? I've served in Iraq and Africa, perhaps someone can help me with Afi SOP. We use DEVGRU squads as IRF for regular joes in contact there? I want to know what was happening and what the Pakis knew. Ridiculous coiincidences are getting harder and harder to stomach. My initial reaction is ANGER at the SEALS command echelon. (for whatever its worth). Our nation HEMMHORAGES at the SINGULAR loss. These incomparable patriots will be mourned forever. If there is complicity found somewhere in their untimely demise - the noose will be too charitable.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 7 years ago
    The combat veterans on this string, along with other veterans of serious endeavors whether in business, law, science, medicine, or whatever -- must realize the great peril in backseat driving and second guessing other professionals based on tenous first-reports from the media. END.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    You're probably right that he doesn't care much. Certainly our politicians here in the UK seem to do little or nothing to minimise British casualties.

    I guess I was saying what I would do if I was in his shoes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    Michael

    I am still very dubious that it was necessary to have nearly 40 elite troops on one helo. The Bin Laden operation did not use 1 Chinook to carry that many troops - so why was it necessary here?

    There have been many incidents here in the UK of the government and defence bureaucrats risking the lives of British troops for no good reason. In Iraq we came very close to losing 50 members of the SAS (which may be 10% of the entire SAS) when a C-130 was shot down. The C-130 was lost because it had not been fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks in order to save $100,000. That kind of risk simply does not make sense. To risk 10% of your most elite troops to save $100,000 is just stupid.

    Of course war involves taking chances, but the question is are they sensible chances and was it the operational commanders choosing to take them? Or are the chances being forced on them by bureaucrats?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    Pocohontas

    Perhaps you could explain to us all why exactly it is 'lame brain' to question why 40 elite troops were on 1 helicopter.

    Is it unreasonable to argue that perhaps no more than 10 or 15 elite troops should ever be on 1 helo?

    I take the view that the government has the duty to shift heaven and earth to minimise the casualties of its military.

    It should be the first priority of government from the President downwards to ensure that all that can be done is done. Everyone in government and the country has a right and duty to ask these questions.

    Here in the UK we see lazy government bureaucrats in our 'Ministry of Defence' pampering themselves with all sorts of benefits and bonuses and leaving troops to die for no good reason. For years the UK government was sending troops out in Iraq and Afghanistan in small SUV-type vehicles which were death traps. There was no good reason for it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    I think that's pretty weak especially when elite troops are involved.

    It should be the number 1 priority of government and military leaders to ensure that the military is given all it reasonably can be to minimise casualties.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    Would it really have compromised the operation to have Chinooks instead of 1?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    On a human level the life of every serviceman or woman is equally precious.

    But from a purely military point of view it makes perfect sense to give a higher level of resources to special forces formations. On average the missions carried out by special forces will be more dangerous and technically demanding than those carried out by other troops. In addition the resources put into selecting and training elite troops are greater than other troops so it makes sense to protect them even more highly. Finally the war in Afghanistan appears highly dependent on special forces and therefore their loss is even more serious than that of non-special forces.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 7 years ago
    Well this IS "la vie en rose" !
    31 gems "creme de la creme" cut down along with "the budget" ...
    We will never know what the mission was: BUT it's all aver the news that's 31 SEALS lost at once and Karzai toots it the FIRST ...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles · 7 years ago
    The war is 100% worth it and more.

    A key motivating factor for Bin Laden was the perception that the West was weak. Each time we got hit in the past - the Beirut marine barracks and Somalia for example - Bin Laden saw that we withdrew.

    He believed that all you had to do was to keep hitting the West and we would keep withdrawing and eventually submit to his demands.

    The Western reaction to 9/11 represented the end of our retreat. The war in Afghanistan has been critical in dismantling much of Al-Qaeda and in killing Bin Laden. The war has in fact been far more successful than many predicted in 2001.

    Don't think for one second that a withdrawl would be cost free. Your enemies remember withdrawls and defeats and will come after you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Sheridan · 7 years ago
    My heart goes out to the families of all of those lost in this incident. It is a considerable burden to know that a loved son or husband will never again come home, pain no balm can reduce.

    Alas all any of us who must go on can do is remember. RIP, the world is poorer for your loss.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Fyisaki · 7 years ago
    I believe Obama's bosses are intent on attriting America.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Phil · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Charles"]Pocohontas

    Perhaps you could explain to us all why exactly it is 'lame brain' to question why 40 elite troops were on 1 helicopter.

    Is it unreasonable to argue that perhaps no more than 10 or 15 elite troops should ever be on 1 helo?

    I take the view that the government has the duty to shift heaven and earth to minimise the casualties of its military.
    .[/quote]

    Have you ever been on an operation like that? Fewer helos means less noise less movement quicker deploy times etc. Don't question our militarys operatives, we have the best in the world. Thats what happens when good people go downrange, sometimes its the bad guys that get all the luck, thats all. We can't win all the time, they just got really lucky with one rocket. Could have happened a lot more, maybe this WILL make them break up the teams smaller, who knows? Just don't put conspiracy where none belongs, 41 guys happens to be a platoon, bro.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mike · 7 years ago
    To our friends guessing why so many on one bird, Michael got it right; we can't second guess what they're doing. After all, we recognize that the SEALS and 160th AVN are the best of the best. Plus, there's the advantage of a Chinook being able to drop an entire platoon on one lift, in one spot; that's a combat multiplier obviously needed in this situation.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cook · 7 years ago
    The photo above, from a different Air Assault mission than the tragic one under discussion, was taken by Michael Yon as he was departing on that mission, only a few days ago. As a reporter, he is walking the walk.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    UKDON · 7 years ago
    We are killing the finest and best of us in another war that we are not allowed to win. If the powers that be, do everything they can to weaken our defense and refuse to allow them rules of engagement that will ensure success on the battlefield then bring them home! When will the people wake up in this country and restore the pride and greatness? Where has common sense gone?
    What a tragic loss of these wonderful, selfless people. God Bless all our great men and women in the service.

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins