A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed during an intelligence raid in Yemen authorized by President Trump, on January 29.
The death of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens marks the first death of a military service member under the authority of President Trump.
According to NPR, at least 23 civilians were killed, including women and children. Also, after a crash landing, a $75 million Osprey aircraft was destroyed to prevent it from falling into al-Qaeda possession.
The plan for this specific raid started during the administration of Barack Obama, but it was President Trump who approved the updated plan.
The President and the White House defended the raid, calling it a success. The statement from the White House immediately after the event said, “Brave U.S. forces were instrumental in killing an estimated 14 AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] members and capturing important intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world.”
However, not everyone agrees with the White House’s declaration of the success of the raid, including Arizona Senator John McCain. As a prisoner of war himself and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator McCain was very open in expressing his dislike of the mission. He told NBC News, “When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life…I don’t believe you can call it a success.”
According to CNN, Yemeni officials agreed with Senator McCain, declaring Yemen had asked the U.S. to stop ground operations in the country without its approval.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer retaliated after McCain’s comments, stating that “anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens.” He also added that Chief Owens knew, “what was at stake in that mission.”
The raid suffered many mishaps and failures, which ultimately led to the death of Chief Owens. According to the New York Times, his death came after a 50-minute firefight that also left three others soldiers wounded. Among the civilians who were killed was the 8-year-old daughter of American born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a targeted drone strike in 2011.
Chief Owens was 36 years old, leaving behind a wife and three children. Navy spokesman Commander Jason Salata said Owens will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.