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Wesley Reyes
Wesley Reyes

The Final Mission Of Extortion 17 Special Ops Helicopter Support SEAL Team Six And The Deadlies [TOP]


ABOUT THE NEW BOOK: On August 6, 2011, a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return. Insurgents fired at the Chinook, severed one of its rear rotor blades, and brought it crashing to the ground. All 38 onboard perished instantly in the single greatest moment of sacrifice for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Those killed were some of the U.S.'s most highly trained and battle-honed commandos, including 15 men from the Gold Squadron of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known popularly as SEAL Team 6, which had raided a Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden just three months earlier. The downing of Extortion 17 spurred a number of conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the shootdown was revenge for bin Laden's death.




The Final Mission Of Extortion 17 Special Ops Helicopter Support SEAL Team Six And The Deadlies



By Ed Darack The Final Mission of Extortion 17: Special Ops, Helicopter Support, SEAL Team Six, and the Deadliest Day of the U.S. War in Afghanistan (Hardcover) By Ed Darack $27.45 Out of Stock Indefinitely ISBN: 9781588345899 Published: Smithsonian Books - September 19th, 2017 On August 6, 2011, a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return. Insurgents fired at the Chinook, severed one of its rear rotor blades, and brought it crashing to the ground. All 38 onboard perished instantly in the single greatest moment of sacrifice for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Those killed were some of the U.S.'s most highly trained and battle-honed commandos, including 15 men from the Gold Squadron of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known popularly as SEAL Team 6, which had raided a Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden just three months earlier. The downing of Extortion 17 spurred a number of conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the shootdown was revenge for bin Laden's death. In THE FINAL MISSION OF EXTORTION 17, Ed Darack debunks this theory and others and uncovers the truth behind this mysterious tragedy. His account of the brave pilots, crew, and passengers of Extortion 17 and the events of that fateful day is interwoven into a rich, complex narrative that also discusses modern joint combat operations, the history of the Afghan war to that date, U.S. helicopter use in Afghanistan, and the new and evolving military technologies and tactics being developed to mitigate such tragedies now and in the future.


On August 6, 2011, a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return. Insurgents fired at the Chinook, severed one of its rear rotor blades, and brought it crashing to the ground. All 38 onboard perished instantly in the single greatest moment of sacrifice for Americans in the war in Afghanistan. Those killed were some of the U.S.'s most highly trained and battle-honed commandos, including 15 men from the Gold Squadron of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known popularly as SEAL Team 6, which had raided a Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden just three months earlier. The downing of Extortion 17 spurred a number of conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the shootdown was revenge for bin Laden's death. In THE FINAL MISSION OF EXTORTION 17, Ed Darack debunks this theory and others and uncovers the truth behind this mysterious tragedy. His account of the brave pilots, crew, and passengers of Extortion 17 and the events of that fateful day is interwoven into a rich, complex narrative that also discusses modern joint combat operations, the history of the Afghan war to that date, U.S. helicopter use in Afghanistan, and the new and evolving military technologies and tactics being developed to mitigate such tragedies now and in the future.


When they arrived at the compound, however, the strike force couldn't locate Tahir, and some of his fighters dispersed. JSOC and aviation commanders, prepared for virtually any outcome, quickly formulated a plan: they would send a team on one helicopter to bolster the Ranger-led force. Members of Navy SEAL Team Six formed the core of the IRF, with other American special operations personnel and highly-vetted Afghans playing integral roles. They loaded onto Extortion 17, and then Carter and Nichols lifted the Chinook into the night sky.


Extortion 17's pilots and crew ranked among the very best military helicopter pilots in the world (Carter had amassed more than 4,000 hours of cockpit time), and the helicopter, a CH-47D, the fastest and one of the most powerful and nimble in the U.S. military, had been maintained to the highest standards. The pilots, crew and Chinook helicopters of "Extortion Company," the conventional Army aviation unit to which Extortion 17 belonged, had supported over 90 percent of raids conducted by Rangers and SEALs of JSOC in that region; the flight in question was nothing out of the ordinary. JSOC ground forces and those who flew them knew and trusted each other. The route had been carefully planned, and gunships maintained continuous watch over the intended landing zone during Extortion 17's approach. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that supported the raid, including a Predator drone, and a variety of highly specialized spy planes, had kept continuous watch over the region during the operation. Nobody involved had overlooked even the most minute detail.


While the vast majority of attempts to down helicopters failed, the lucky shot that took down Extortion 17 had a precedent. During an attempted reinforcement effort during Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005, high on the slopes of a mountain called Sawtalo Sar in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province, a lucky shot took down an Army Special Operations Chinook, call sign "Turbine 33." The ensuing crash killed all 16 on board, eight Army special operations aviators, and eight Navy SEALs. At that time, this marked deadliest moment in the war in Afghanistan.


Faced with the possibility of confronting nine or 10 Taliban fighters, planners increased the reinforcement team from 17 to 32 men, formed around the 15-man SEAL group. The IRF also included two SEALs from another team, five Navy special operations support personnel, three Air Force special tactics airmen, seven Afghan National Army commandos, a translator, and a combat assault dog. The IRF commander then made a critical decision: In order to get everyone on the ground as quickly as possible and deny the Taliban time to react, he ordered the entire force to fly in Extortion 17. Extortion 16 flew empty.


On August 6, 2011, a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return.


On August 6, 2011, a US Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter approached a landing zone in Afghanistan 40 miles southwest of Kabul. The helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was on a mission to reinforce American and coalition special operations troops. It would never return. Insurgents fired at the Chinook, severed one of its rear rotor blades, and brought it crashing to the ground. All 38 onboard perished instantly in the single greatest moment of sacrifice for Americans in the war in Afghanistan.


At 10:58 p.m., they were inserted by the same CH-47D helicopters that would later conduct the mission to insert the SEAL team. As the operation got underway, our airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, including an MQ-9 Predator, detected a group evading the Rangers, moving towards the north. AC-130 gunships orbiting overhead directed two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to fire on and kill five enemy fighters.


Some sources state that at the shootdown, the two AH-64 Apache helicopters were engaged in tracking another Taliban group and were thus unable to provide surveillance (of the landing zone and infiltration route) and fire support the inbound CH-47D helicopter carrying the Navy SEAL team.


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