The raid by U.S. Special Forces that took place in Yemen in January resulted in the first death of a military service member under the presidency of Donald Trump — Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens. However, Trump, when asked about the raid during an interview on "Fox & Friends," seemed to put the responsibility for the death of the Navy SEAL on his generals.
"This was a mission that started before I got here," Trump said during the interview on Tuesday. "This is something that they (his generals) wanted to do. They came to see me; they explained what they wanted to do. My generals are the most respected we've had in many decades I believe. And they lost Ryan."
Trump went on to emphasize the role many others played in planning of this mission before he actually approved it.
The Navy SEAL died January 29 in a rare ground mission in Yemen. Though the U.S has since acknowledged that over 20 civilians killed in the attack along with 14 al Qaeda militants, critics have questioned whether the gains from the raid actually compensate for the loss of an elite U.S. special operator and an Osprey aircraft.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite service members,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a statement released after the raids. “The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe. Three U.S. servicemembers were wounded in the raid....The operation resulted in an estimated 14 AQAP members being killed and the capture of information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots."
Trump had previously hailed his first counterterrorism mission as a success. He said that the commandos had captured “important intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world," the New York Times reported.
However, the raid raised doubts about the months of detailed planning that went into the operation during the former President Barack Obama's administration and whether the right questions were raised before the mission was approved.
Trump’s new national security team, led by Michael Flynn, said that it wants to speed up the decision-making process when it comes to such strikes, delegating more power to lower-level officials so that the military may respond more quickly. In fact, the Pentagon is currently drafting such plans to accelerate activities against the al Qaeda's branch in Yemen, according to the Times.
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