Rangers, Special Forces, and PJs were already moving up the mountain toward the crash site. It would take them until nearly midnight to reach it, after the first attempt had been turned back by the weather, but the weather had eased up. There had also been the issue of theater command denying any further flights in the area. The loss of Turbine 33 had hit US forces hard, and no one wanted to risk losing another bird on Sawtalo Sar. The CRO and the two 920th Rescue Wing pilots remained focused on the missing SR team.
Other Rangers and Special Forces were patrolling the surrounding valleys, looking for any sign of the missing SEALs. Marines from 2/3 were pushing down from the north, but 2/3’s chain of command had no contact with the JOC; while they were known to be operating in the area (it was their AO, after all), the CRO didn’t know exactly where the patrols were, and had no contact with them. This disconnect would continue throughout the operation.
Throughout the day, there were more and more reports of attempted communication on the SAR frequencies, and aircraft were reporting visual signals as well. Few if any of these reports could be corroborated by satellite or national assets, and as the CRO mapped them out with pushpins on the map in the JOC, he saw increasingly clearly that the enemy was attempting to draw in the rescue forces. By the time the operation was over, there had been between 50 and 60 separate attempts at communication, either over the SAR frequencies or by visual signals, and spread over a radius of over 6 miles. It was frankly impossible that they were coming from the missing SEALs, as there were too many of them, spread too widely. While it was possible that some of the contacts were coming from one of the missing men, the rest of the white noise made it impossible to determine if such was the case, and if so, which ones. As it was, the enemy’s spoofing tactics were never officially reported, although mention remains in the AAR.
The CRO and the rest of the personnel in the JOC continued to attempt to nail down a workable “Probability of Area.” Unfortunately, with the terrain being as harsh as it is, the lack of verifiable contact with any of the SEALs, on top of the uncertainty as to their E&E plan, the task appeared hopeless. They didn’t even know which direction they may have gone—east into the Shuryek Valley, west into the Korengal (which was considerably more hostile to US forces than the Shuryek), or even north or south along the ridge. They had to press on, hoping and praying that the SEALs were still alive, while constantly attempting to establish contact on every frequency on the team’s comm plan.