Donald Trump said the following at his recent address to Congress:
“I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.'”
Here is one of Trump’s tweets on the matter:
The Trump administration said the raid was initiated by the Obama administration, but this is not exactly true. The Obama administration created plans for the raid but they did not endorse an escalation in Yemen. In fact, the former Deputy CIA Director David Cohen said the raid was not approved by the Obama administration.
The Navy SEALs performed this raid in order to gather intelligence from an al-Qaida affiliate complex in Yemen. One piece of intelligence gathered by the SEALs was a bomb making video. The problem with this piece of intelligence is we already had it in our possession.
The Trump administration said they gathered significant intelligence from the raid, but multiple senior officials say they have not seen evidence to support this claim.
Death of al-Qaida Militants
Fourteen members of al-Qaida were killed during the raid. One of the militants was Sheikh Abdel-Raouf al-Dhahab. The Trump administration calls him an al-Qaida leader, but the Yemeni government said he is not a leader of al-Qaida. This dispute shows the minute-level fog of this raid.
Loss of Equipment
A $90 million tilt-rotor military aircraft, the Osprey, was destroyed after a crash landing.
We missed a key al-Qaida target during the raid. Here is how NPR describes the incident:
“The goal of the raid was intelligence-gathering,” Spicer said Tuesday, “and that’s what we received, and that’s what we got. That’s why we can deem it a success.”
But the U.S. would not send in SEAL Team Six, the premiere anti-terrorist commandos, to pick up some cellphones and computers, a U.S. official told Bowman.
Part of the effort was to get top al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], leaders. While more than a dozen militants were killed, a top target, Qassim al-Rimi, either slipped away or was not at the location.
Rimi is the leader of AQAP, seen as a top recruiter and the third-most-dangerous terrorist in the world. Bowman confirmed that Rimi was “one of the objectives,” along with disrupting planning and plotting, in addition to collecting material.
Again, we failed a key objective of the raid.
U.S. Navy SEAL, Ryan Owens died in the raid.
I will devote my next post to a tribute to Ryan given by the Military Times.