Just in case anyone still doubted the abilities of US Special Forces to strike anywhere anytime, SEAL Team Six and Delta Force raided two countries simultaneously with the aim of capturing high-value Al-Qaeda affiliated commanders. Delta Force entered Libya and successfully captured and extracted their target. According to the US media, Seal Team Six was unsuccessful. They encountered armed resistance and decided to withdraw rather than risk civilian casualties.
Somali media are reporting that the SEALs left behind equipment. The equipment left behind includes a Magpul PMAG with ~20 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, a high capacity H&K MP7 magazine with ~40 rounds of ammunition, a Rheinmetall MK13 BTV-EL Flash Bang and a Garmin Foretrex 401 wrist-worm GPS device.
Since at least the Bin Laden raid we have known that SEAL Team Six favor HK416 rifles and H&K MP7 submachine guns. The MK13 grenade is used by the US Military and by many special forces around the world, so it is no surprise they are using it.
Now I don’t claim to even be an armchair-private, let alone an armchair-commando. But I do know electronics and GPS systems in particular, having worked for a manufacturer of high-performance concealed GPS tracking devices. I am very surprised that Seal Team Six would be using the Garmin Foretrex 401. It has a small antenna and would struggle to get a fast and accurate fix indoors. I suppose it is plausible they would be issuing these simply because they are cheap/disposable ($180 on Amazon), are simple to use and last for 17 hours on standard alkaline AA batteries.
While the equipment is “correct”, I cannot help thinking this all looks suspicious. There are four possible scenarios that would result in an ultra-elite special forces team leaving this kind of equipment behind …
- They were genuinely overwhelmed or ambushed by Somali militia and the equipment was left behind in a hurried withdrawal. Unlikely.
- A team member carelessly left some of his equipment behind. Surely not.
- The photos are a hoax or made-up propaganda. Possible.
- The equipment was purposely planted. Likely.
Scenario one is unlikely and is denied by the Pentagon. After the Battle of Mogadishu, I find it hard to believe that any US Special Forces would be careless enough to leave more trophies behind for the already emboldened Somali militia/terrorist groups. Scenario three is possible. Those photos could have been sitting on the computer of an Al-Qaeda media operative for years while they waited for a special forces defeat before leaking them to the media. Scenario four is the most likely in my opinion.
The GPS device appears to be loaded full of named waypoints. The intelligence gained from knowing the precise movements of SEALs during a raid would be invaluable to Al-Qaeda.
My theory, for what it is worth, is that the SEALs had a secret primary mission. The Al-Shabaab commander may have been a diversion. They left behind evidence, including GPS waypoints, to support and reinforce the deception in the minds of the Somali terrorists.
What do you think really happened?
Thanks to Matt for the tip.
UPDATE: We asked Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL and editor of SOFREP.com, what he thought was the most likely explanation. He said unfortunately the gear looks to have been legitimately abandoned by the SEALs. I would take his professional opinion over my own Tom Clancy-inspired amateur opinion any day!