One of the most gripping and interesting parts of writing “The Final Mission of Extortion 17” was the section about how American forces located, determined the identities, tracked, and then struck those responsible for the downing of Extortion 17. Reports stated only that the enemy fighters responsible fled toward Pakistan and were killed with a bomb strike. Here is a portion of what actually happened, the full story is in “The Final Mission of Extortion 17“:
During the JSOC mission to capture or kill OBJECTIVE LEFTY GROVE, a number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft plied the skies above the Tangi Valley, including aircraft with powerful signals intelligence (SIGINT) gathering capabilities. These aircraft included an Air Force EC-130 Commando Solo, an Army RC-12 Guardrail, and an Air Force MC-12 Liberty. Just seconds after the shoot down of Extortion 17, the (very lucky) shooter responsible for the tragedy bragged to other affiliated fighters about his deed over an ICOM “PTT” or Push to Talk two-way radio. The fighter’s words were recorded, transmitted via satellite communications and then translated, and he was geo-located, then subsequently tracked. Hours later, when he called his commander on his cell phone, American intelligence learned intimate details of him and his cohorts, and the CIA then gave him a name: OBJECTIVE GINOSA, and a very distinctive title, JPEL-1, Joint Priorities Effects List level 1, the highest priority target, globally.
Two nights after the shoot down, after all families had been notified of losses and the shoot down had made international headlines, an Army RC-12 Guardrail, call sign “Draco 44” tracked a white sedan carrying GINOSA, the other RPG shooter, and four of their cohorts. The six drove deep into the Chak Valley, west of the Tangi Valley. GINOSA, aligned with the Haqqani Network, planned to produce a propaganda video bragging about the downing of Extortion 17, and receive a cash award from a warlord in the Chak Valley. GINOSA would never make that video, nor receive his award.
Back at Forward Operating Base Shank, one of DEVGRU’s most experienced JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) who used the call sign G87 (pronounced “golf eight-seven”), watched the sedan via Predator feed. As Draco 44 tracked Ginosa’s vehicle using both an infrared scanner and signals intelligence data, two Air Force F-16s, call signs “Viper 33” and “Viper 34” arrived above. Each Viper carried four GBU-54 “Laser JDAM” 500-pound bombs, capable of both laser and GPS guidance. Then an AC-130, call sign “Slasher-02” arrived, armed with 105mm artillery rounds. Finally, two Apaches arrived, call signs “Pitch Black 65” and “Pitch Black 40,” armed with 30mm high explosive rounds for their chain guns, high explosive point detonation rockets, and flechette rockets. Three of the four Apache pilots were on scene during the shoot down of Extortion 17. It was a very personal mission for all of them. With positive identification courtesy Draco, G87 issued the words that all in the air craved to hear “Viper 34 you’re cleared hot, cleared hot, cleared hot!” Learn what happened next in “The Final Mission of Extortion 17.”