Retired Air Force captain says attack on Extortion 17 could have been prevented | Circa News - Learn. Think. Do.:
"A retired Air Force captain says the Pentagon lied to families about what caused the Extortion 17 tragedy.
A decorated retired Air Force officer who witnessed one of the most deadly attacks on Navy SEALs in U.S. history is breaking her silence, saying the government covered up evidence detailing that the 2011 downing of a Chinook helicopter gunship that killed 38 fighters in Afghanistan could have been prevented had it not been for restrictions to the military's rules of engagement that were changed under the Obama administration.
August 6, 2011: Retired Air Force Capt. Joni Marquez and her crew were working the dark morning hours aboard an AC-130 gunship after being summoned to a mission she describes “as almost like a 9-1-1 type of a situation.”
The gunship was ordered to fly close-in air support above Afghanistan’s dangerous Tangi Valley, in Wardak Province, assisting troops with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment who were being fired on by eight heavily armed Taliban insurgents.
The Rangers had called in for assault helicopters to engage the enemy hiding among the rocky valley. The air weapons team fired on the Taliban fighters, but not all of the insurgents were killed as originally believed.
“I had the sensor operators immediately shift to the eight insurgents the helicopters had taken out,” Marquez told Circa, in her first interview about the incident. “Two were still alive.”
Marquez was the fire control officer aboard the AC-130 gunship, making sure that the sensors and weapons were aligned and allowing the crew hone in on targets.
That night it didn’t matter, because the gunship was not given permission to fire. “We had seen two of them (insurgents) moving, crawling away from the area, as to not really make a whole lot of scene,” she recalled.
Monitoring the scene from above, she relayed the scene to the ground force commander. “You have two enemy forces that are still alive,” she said. “Permission to engage.”
They were denied.
Marquez told Circa the ground commander's decision to not allow her crew to engage the two enemy fighters sealed the fate of those involved in Extortion 17.
There was little left to do for Marquez and her team but simply track the two enemy insurgents with the surveillance equipment. She watched as the two moved tactically through the open field, making their way to a village where they began to rally more fighters.
Meanwhile, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, with the call sign Extortion 17, was called into the hours-long firefight.
U.S. Central Command’s official investigation concluded that a rocket-launched grenade from a Taliban fighter hit the Chinook and sent the helicopter into a downward spin. The crash killed all 38, including thirty Americans and eight Afghans. Seventeen of the U.S. servicemen were Navy SEALs. Months before, SEALs were made famous for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
If we would've been allowed to engage that night, we would've taken out those two men immediately.
—Retired Air Force Captain Joni Marquez
Read on and be angry!