The families of some of the 17 SEAL Team 6 commandos who were k****d in an ambush in Afghanistan during a helicopter flight to help Army Rangers pinned down by Taliban gunmen accused the Obama administration of deliberately endangering their loved ones for political ends.
Now a highly decorated, retired Air Force officer is coming forward, breaking her silence to speak out on what she witnessed in one of the deadliest attacks on Navy SEALs in U.S. history. Her testimony details how the government covered up evidence in the 2011 downing of a Chinook helicopter gunship that k****d a total of 38 military personnel in Afghanistan and how the attack that took so many lives could have been prevented if it were not for the restrictions to the military’s rules of engagement instituted under the Obama administration.
On August 6, 2011, Air Force Capt. Joni Marquez was working along with her crew in the early morning hours before sunrise while aboard an AC-130 gunship when they were summoned to a mission in what she describes as “almost like a 9-1-1 type of a situation.”
The gunship received orders to fly close-in air support above Afghanistan’s dangerous Tangi Valley, in Wardak Province. They were to assist troops with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment who were under heavy fire by eight heavily armed Taliban insurgents. The Rangers had put in a call for assault helicopters to engage the enemy to draw them out of their hiding place in the rocky valley. They believed the insurgents were all k****d after the air weapons team fired on the Taliban fighters. They were wrong.
Marquez states of the events that unfolded afterward – “I had the sensor operators immediately shift to the eight insurgents the helicopters had taken out. Two were still alive. We had seen two of them (insurgents) moving, crawling away from the area, as to not really make a whole lot of scene.”
Marquez believes that had her team been allowed to engage and return fire, those 38 deaths could have been prevented. Pleas and warnings from her crew to turn the Chinook back or cancel their mission went unheeded. She explained that by the time Extortion 17 came in confusion ruled the day, stating – “Whenever we reached out to the Joint Operations Center, they would essentially just push back with, ‘Find a, a good infill location. Find a good helicopter landing zone.’”
The rules of engagement on the battlefield were tightened by Gen. Stanley McCrystal under former President Obama’s leadership in 2009. The official reason cited was an “overreliance on firepower and force protection” with the idea that this would reduce civilian casualties and win the cooperation of locals. Except according to Marquez it didn’t. The rules regarding when to engage the enemy were continuously changing depending on who was in charge and those rules prevented her crew from effectively doing what was necessary.