What went wrong? Inside the Navy SEAL raid in Yemen

They walked around five miles to their objective.

Then, said officials, something tipped the targets off to their approach. Depending on the account, it might have been a barking dog, or Emiratis intercepted speaking in Arabic on walkie talkies, or the crash of a small Emirati drone surveying the target from a forward position.

“Initial reports are always wrong, but it doesn’t appear to be a failure of planning or intelligence,” said the former special forces officer.

Almost immediately, the raiding force on the ground took intense fire, according to the briefing paper and a senior military official. Occupants of the targeted house and its compound, along with their guard force, moved to a separate cluster of houses nearby where families, including women and children, were staying. Armed women fired on the U.S. and Emirati forces.

“There were a lot of female combatants who were part of this,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, on Monday. “We saw during this operation, as it was taking place, that female fighters ran to pre-established positions — as though they had trained to be ready, and trained to be combatants — and engaged with us.”