What looked like a disaster from the outset looks infinitely worse now.
According to sources who spoke to ABC News, locals seemingly knew American forces were on their way to their location and were fully prepared to fight.
According to the source, it was clear that the AQAP fighters in the compound knew the Americans were coming and engaged them with heavy weapons.
On Monday, [Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis] said there were women among the AQAP fighters who "ran to pre-established positions as though they had trained to be ready and trained to be combatants and engaged with us."
An intense firefight at close quarters killed Chief Special Warfare Officer William "Ryan" Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, and left three other SEALs wounded.
Even worse, a second Marine V-22 Osprey was called in to evacuate the wounded, but it was either forced down or simply crashed (it's not clear which) and wounded three additional service members as a result. The Osprey was destroyed at a cost over over $75 million.
The New York Times reported last night that Trump approved the raid at the dinner table and did not observe the operation from the situation room. The latter detail may be especially important given what happened as the raid got underway.
Locals not only knew the raid was coming, special operators knew that locals knew they were coming.
Through a communications intercept, the commandos knew that the mission had been somehow compromised, but pressed on toward their target roughly five miles from where they had been flown into the area. “They kind of knew they were screwed from the beginning,” one former SEAL Team 6 official said.
With the crucial element of surprise lost, the Americans and Emiratis found themselves in a gun battle with Qaeda fighters who took up positions in other houses, a clinic, a school and a mosque, often using women and children as cover, American military officials said in interviews this week.
Pentagon officials issued at statement last night that said they're still assessing civilian casualties but, given the scale of this operation and the disastrous result, local witness reports that as many has 59 were killed seem plausible. Those killed include an unknown number of children. We may never know for sure how many were killed.
White House press secretary and professional toady Sean Spicer said during today's press briefing that the raid was a "successful operation" because they obtained some computer hardware at the site, but we don't know if that actually included useful information. We could have scooped up someone's porn collection for all we know right now.
Members of the military who believe Trump is going to let them "kick ass" should be under no illusion. He's going to get a lot of them killed. This time it was just a raid, next time it could be a war based on false intelligence or Trump's whims.