A bittersweet irony for families of special ops troops: They’re not free to celebrate their beloved publicly until they’re gone. Two excruciating clips for you here to follow up on this weekend’s horrendous loss in Afghanistan, the first an interview with the parents and widow of SEAL Aaron Vaughn and the second a compilation of reactions from loved ones of other men killed aboard the Chinook. One SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Matt Mills, was on his last mission. He and the rest of his team were on their way to help Army Rangers who were pinned down by jihadi fire when the chopper was hit.
Word on Saturday was that it was an RPG that took it down. Danger Room is skeptical:
One Army insider who spoke to Danger Room went a step further, saying the rocket may have been a special improvised model. A chopper-killer, if you will.
The so-called “Improvised Rocket-Assisted Mortar” made its debut in Iraq in 2008, although not in attacks on aircraft. IRAMs combine traditional tube mortars with rocket boosters and, in many cases, remote triggers, allowing insurgents to fire them from a distance.
IRAMs have killed several U.S. troops in Iraq over the years; in June, the weapons killed six Americans. but haven’t factored heavily in the Afghanistan fighting. The weapon’s appearance in Wardak, if confirmed, could be proof of Afghan insurgents’ continued ability to adapt and innovate despite mounting losses.
Improvised rockets are notoriously inaccurate. But with bigger warheads than shoulder-fired RPGs, IRAMs are potentially much more destructive when they do hit.
The clips speak for themselves, but note where Vaughn’s father alludes to things said “in higher places” after the Bin Laden raid that made the family, and presumably the entire SEAL community, uncomfortable. I can’t tell for sure what he means but I think he’s referring to Biden very stupidly identifying the SEALs in a speech as the unit that got Osama, which naturally made them a prime target for reprisals. And that’s not the only example of thoughtless loose talk lately. Biden at least has the excuse that he has “mental limitations.” What’s the excuse of the unnamed government official who leaked word on Saturday that members of Team 6 were aboard the Chinook before their families were notified? Imagine having a brother, son, or husband in that unit and hearing that on TV, then spending the rest of the day wondering if the knock on the door was coming.