Following the high-profile raid in Yemen last week by SEAL Team Six to capture/kill a number of Al Qaeda high value targets, the question is now being asked as to whether the raid was a success or a spectacular failure. The real answer is probably somewhere in between.
The loss of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owen is tragic. This SEAL had literally served through the entire length of the war on terror and men with that level of combat experience are literally impossible to replace. However, Special Operations are dangerous by their very nature and combat losses will occur regardless of how well planned missions are. Owen is hardly the first American casualty in the war on terror, and sadly he will not be the last.
While humans are more important than hardware, the destruction of a $72 million dollar Osprey aircraft is also a loss, one that could have resulted in a much more dangerous situation than what actually occurred. When an aircraft goes down, memories emerge from Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia. When birds start crash landing, the potential for disaster quickly escalates but thankfully it appears that the pilots and SEAL Team Six operators mitigated the risk and prevented this from happening.
Several high value targets were killed on the objective including Abdul Raouf al-Dhahab and Seif al-Nims, both of whom were AQAP leaders. In total, around 14 Al Qaeda fighters were killed to include several women who took up arms. Also killed were somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty civilians. However, SOFREP broke the news that the primary target of the raid was Qassim al-Rimi who was not captured or killed. He may not have even been on the objective.