Defense officials: Fewer SEALs died in crash than originally believed
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August 10th, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Defense officials: Fewer SEALs died in crash than originally believed

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

The Pentagon will put the death toll of Navy SEALs in last weekend's downing of a helicopter in Afghanistan at 17, according to two Defense Department officials.

The original figure provided to the news media by Pentagon sources for the number of SEALs killed was 22.

Officials say further information that has come in also indicates that not all of the SEALs were assigned to a top-secret Naval unit as they originally said.

Officials now say the following: There were 22 Navy personnel on the helicopter. Of that number, 15 were SEALs belonging to the top-secret unit that conducted the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. Two others were SEALs assigned to a regular Naval special operations unit.

Five additional Navy personnel were so-called conventional forces with particular specialties who regularly worked with the SEALs. One official said that included a dog handler and some communications specialists.

The other eight U.S. troops killed were three Air Force forward air controllers and five Army helicopter crew members.

Multiple military officials had said for days there were 22 SEALs among the dead, and all were members of the same overall unit that killed Bin Laden.

One official adamantly insisted the information indicating otherwise came to the Pentagon Tuesday night and there was no intent to deceive or withhold information. "The SEALs considered everyone part of their team" the official said.

Eight Afghan pesonnel - a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan troops - also were among the 38 people killed in the crash.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. b5bjtdi7

    mp3 Free VLC Player Download audio player

    September 22, 2011 at 5:21 am | Reply
  2. Ian

    The officer that felt the need to get so nit-picky with who is and is not being labeled 'elite' needs to be sacked immediately.

    August 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  3. Paul

    For n organization that focuses on covert operations the government sure seems to like releasing lots of information about them. Should follow the British approach and adopt a policy of not releasing any information whatsoever concerning the activities of the SAS/SBS/SRR etc. But then I suppose there would be no political capital to be gained.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  4. Ramesh Sukumaran

    When you kill some, expect to lose a few. That's war for you, in case you didn't know. It's fun bombing people who don't have an Air Force and can't shoot back, but at some point it gets real. That's when your people die. The people you refer to as ragheads are fighting in their own country against invaders. Go get an education and look up Afghanistan and Iraq on a world map.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  5. paul

    I met a soldier from the U.K. that was in afghanistan for several years, he claims that those were not navy seals that took out bin laden they were CIA, he said that the USA is not allowed to operate it's military in that area, he also claims those 22 killed in pursuit of a tailban leader was not navy seals they were CIA operates, it's amazeing the B.S that the public gets from world goverments and the news trying to cover the real situation up,

    August 19, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
  6. Scott S

    Dear CNN,

    Fuck you.

    Sincerely,
    All those who died who weren't 'SEALs'.

    I don't care if it was a group of SEALs who died, or a bunch of mechanics. AMERICANS died. And that's all that matters.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • Moodgirl

      Amen.

      August 18, 2011 at 7:29 am | Reply
  7. AGuest9

    I still see the look on my youngest sister's face when she found out that three of her friends were killed in Iraq in one day. She attended their funerals, and I wondered sometimes if she was going to make it through. To see wives and kids and knowing that these guys were buddies and went down together in a fight, supporting one another tears your guts out. These young men did this because they believed in our country and its ideals and to what was done to us on 9/11, and they found and died together as close friends.

    I burst into tears sitting here a few months ago when my other sister posted a Facebook memorial to her friend who I remember as a scrawny 8 year boy in a school uniform. He was killed by an IED this spring. It's a war, and death is waiting everywhere. They weren't targeted. Some rag-h3ad got lucky. I hope his luck runs out soon, too.

    August 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • anchorite

      That rag-h3ad was defending his country from foreign invaders, and he was a civilian forced to fight combat veterans. If the Iraqi troops were invading America, maybe you would be the one setting off IED's. Would that be terrorism or self-defense then?

      August 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Reply
      • matthew

        Your a meat head. Those rag heads who downed the chinook are terrorists and scum of the eath. They will get whats coming and deserving to them.

        August 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  8. meko

    oh that bible. the ones that they hold up saying such and such land is mine cause "god" says so and told me (in the first invasion) to kill every man woman and child and their animals. yea love that story

    August 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • Naomi

      Stupid Meko. Those were executed because of child-sacrifice and Sodomy. USA is next.

      August 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  9. DSS2123

    What is this obsession with how many SEALs were targeted? Servicemen died. I couldn't care less if it was SEALs, Marines, cooks, etc etc.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      In order to be a true American, it is important to label and cast blame. Not to focus on the underlying issues and address the root causes. Those servicemen should never have been deployed there in a faux war of terror.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • lou

      Exactly what I was going to say. WTF

      August 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  10. Jefe

    umm... CNN, your numbers don't match up. "17 SEALs, 5 Navy personnel, 8 other U.S. troops" (that's 31 total for American casualties) and "Eight Afghan personnel" totaling "38 people killed in the crash"

    I'm no mathematician, but the numbers you state add up to 39, not 38. #Justsayin

    August 11, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • Jason

      I think you need to recheck your math, last time I checked 17+5=22 and 22+8=30 and 30+8=38. Time to go back to school Jefe

      August 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Kati

      @ Jefe ... add that one up again. It's 38.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  11. Tim

    Seems like a pretty accurately planned retaliatory strike to me. The probability the the exact team members that took out Bin Laden were killed in this tragedy.

    Also, a bit of criticism on the DoD's back: why can't you keep track of your folks better? How many people on a small aircraft? Who are they? Get your facts straight. Domestic air carriers have apparently more tracking restrictions that even the government does. Pathetic if you ask me that they can't even say for sure what the flight manifest says who is listed on a flight.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • etou1127

      like i said inside job done!

      August 11, 2011 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • Jefe

      Incorrect, sir. All information and announcements I've read indicate they were part of the same unit, but not the actual team that took out Bin Laden. That might just be semantics for you, and won't change your opinions, but it is a fact, nonetheless.

      Agreed on the criticism about the personnel count and who was involved. I don't think there is really any valid reason it would take 5 days to make such a correction. It's not necessarily the Pentagon's fault, but the personnel on the ground involved with the flight should have been able to correct their mistake much quicker, IMO.

      But I would welcome any explanation as to why it did take so long to correct, and why the figures were incorrect to begin with.

      August 11, 2011 at 11:59 am | Reply
      • Jefe

        Another correction lol, the article states 15 of the total 17 SEALs were part of the unit the killed bin Laden, 2 were "regular" SpecOps

        August 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
      • meko

        its the military way..like cops they never admit or publicly correct a mistake until compelled. just hope nobody notices. bet some family member went huh?

        August 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • meko

      but its so much more exciting especially when you say they were on the bin Laden team. more sympathy. keeps the chickenhawks pumped up.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Nathan_Brazil

      Lord you guys have trouble understanding new stories. They were NOT the same SOLDIERS that killed Bin Laden. They were simple from the same UNIT. There are around 300 people that fall under that "team".

      August 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  12. etou1127

    This smells like an inside job to me. i think the government is hiding something. maybe the raid on osama didnt happen and they couldnt trust the seals that did it to keep shut? what do u think.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • Nathan_Brazil

      I think you are an idiot. They were NOT the same SOLDIERS that killed Bin Laden. They were simple from the same UNIT. There are around 300 people that fall under that "team". No conspiracy necessary.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • Pliny

      I think you are a pinhead.

      August 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  13. Steve

    I strongly doubt the SEALS were targets, as I strongly doubt that Mustafa, with his hand held RPG launcher, has access to radar and air traffic control resources. They got lucky in that sad moment and we concentrated too much in human assets in one vehicle. Learn the lesson. Split these incursion teams into multiple aircraft, involve a Blackhawk for screening from fire and to provide protective cover. Always risk machinery, spend money and burn fuel instead of having our sons' and daughters' blood get spilled. My eyelids are sore from crying so much. Losses are inevitable, but not on this scale. Don't let this happen again; ever!

    August 11, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply
  14. bob mcmillan

    i wonder if this ship was a target because of the seals inside?? was there a leak and it was shot down because the militants knew who was in there?? then they say the militants were all killed...( was this to cover their tracks??) i hope the government is looking into this to see if the enemy had been told where and when this ship was going to be...and why would this ship loaded with our finest personnel be out there without cover ships???

    August 11, 2011 at 9:46 am | Reply
  15. Naomi

    Prayers for the families of the heroes.
    But Afghans need literacy education and Bibles, not America's friendship. They won't care about America and keep hating everything until they understand the Bible. Americans, why don't you get it? You are no good without the Judeo-Christian values. Secular America only corrupts nations with its stupid entertainment.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • Pliny

      Naomi. Your bible is just as useful as their koran....toiletpaper.

      August 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply

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