Florida residents Billy and Karen Vaughn’s son Special Operations Chief Aaron Vaughn was one of the 22 Navy SEALs killed in the Chinook attack in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. The Vaughn’s are raising questions about how the Obama administration has pushed the limits of Special Operations Forces as part of its war Afghanistan policy and how constrictive “rules of engagement” (ROI) intended to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people are killing our special operators.
The Vaughn’s believe the ROI directly contributed to the death of their son Aaron and 38 others aboard the helicopter when it was shot down.
According to Breitbart’s Patrick Poole, “On August 6, 2011, while on their way to assist an ongoing mission in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, the CH-47D Chinook helicopter that they were riding in was shot down by an RPG fired by a Taliban fire team approaching their landing zone in Tangi Valley. All 38 American and Afghan service members who were aboard perished, including 17 Navy SEALS, 5 Navy Special Operations support personnel, 3 Air Force Special Tactics Airmen and the five-man Chinook crew, marking the largest loss of life in America’s 11 years of military operations in Afghanistan. Twenty of the twenty-two SEALs and SEAL support were from SEAL Team VI (DEVGRU).”
Poole lays out the Vaughn’s three major complaints about the failed Extortion 17 mission:
First: “One of the main concerns for the Vaughns is the operational tempo for special operations forces in Afghanistan. The CENTCOM report itself notes that in August 2009 the number of monthly objectives was 54. But in August 2011 – the month that the helicopter, ‘Extortion 17,’ was shot down – that number had grown to 334 objectives, more than a 600 percent increase in just two years.”
Second: “Another complaint heard by the Vaughns throughout the special operations community is that because so many special operations forces are in the field, they must rely on conventional forces and conventional equipment, rather than the specialized equipment typically used by special forces.”
Third: “Amazingly, because of the rules of engagement and the inability to determine whether there were any friendlies in the area, the Taliban team that shot Extortion 17 down was allowed to escape. The only fire from the escort craft noted in the CENTCOM report occurred several minutes after the crash to suppress any enemy attempting to approach the crash area.”
Poole quotes Karen Vaughn, mother of Aaron, stating, “When the families from the crash were meeting with the Army’s Investigation Team and Naval Officers, a father asked why they didn’t use a drone strike to take out the Taliban. A 3-star Admiral responded, ‘We are trying to win their hearts and minds’.”
Read the full column by clicking here.
The third and final Presidential Debate, with the topic foreign policy, will take place on Monday, October, 22nd. Will President Obama’s rules of engagement in Afghanistan come up in a question? Should Governor Romney make it an issue? Watchdog Wire will be doing pre and post-debate coverage of this important foreign policy/national security debate.
Video of Billy and Karen Vaughn discussing the circumstances surrounding their son’s death: