The acclaimed “Bin Laden mission” SEAL Team Six took a devastating loss over the weekend when the Taliban downed their Chinook transport helicopter, killing all 38 passengers. Most were part of the same unit–but not the actual persons–who took down the head terrorist.
One current and one former U.S. official said that the dead included more than 20 Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden. They were being flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment…
The death toll would surpass the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001…
How did the Taliban take them down? Wired’s Danger Room reports that it may be just a slight development on low-tech insurgent warfare, potently mixed with a planned ambush. The SEALs made a fly-in to provide backup to a pinned-down Army Rangers outfit. After the skrimish that left 8 Taliban insurgents dead, the SEALs loaded back into their Chinook for what was supposed to be the easy part.
“The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take,” one unnamed Afghan official tells AFP. “That’s the only route, so they took position[s] on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons.”
“It was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander,” the official added.
The aircraft fell to the ground in flames.
The Taliban soldiers used rocket-propelled mortars against the slow and low-flying transport copter.
The military is developing its own low-fi response to defend their helicopters: a system that detects where enemy gunfire is originating and flashing a distracting laser at the attacker.