Operation Redwing takes place in mountainous northeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Intelligence showed that a high value target (HVT) was in the village of Sabray-Minah (Sabray). Sabray is located in very mountainous terrain in the Hindu Kush region. The village is inhabited by a sect of Muslims known as the Pashtuns. The Pastuns follow a code called Pashtunwali which demands hospitality, justice, courage, loyalty, and honoring of women.1 The Pashtuns do not necessarily like the Taliban, but they tolerate one another.
A team of four Navy SEALs (Marcus Luttrell, Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, and Danny Dietz) from SEAL team 10 were assigned to capture Ben Sharmak, a Taliban leader. Petty Officer Luttrell and Petty Officer Axelson (Axe) were the team's snipers, Lieutenant Murphy was the team commander, and Petty Officer Dietz was in charge of radios. Ben Sharmak had organized numerous offensives against United States Marines and had killed many of them in recent attacks.2
Intelligence reports confirmed that Sharmak and his army were in the Hindu Kush village of Sabray. The SEAL team's mission was to fast rope into the Hindu Kush and travel undetected for four miles by foot to their predetermined village observation point. They were to observe Ben Sharmak to determine if they could capture or kill him. If Ben Sharmak's fighting force was too large they were to call in a direct action team who would neutralize that force and capture or kill the Taliban leader.
In the late 1970's the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Islamist guerrillas known as the mujahideen, meaning “those engaged in jihad”, fought to expel the Soviet occupation. Osama Bin Laden opened a guesthouse for mujahideen fighters. As their numbers grew he built camps for them inside Afghanistan. He named his guesthouses and camps al-Qaeda, Arabic for "the base".3
One group of mujahideen fighters called themselves the Taliban, meaning “religious student”. The Taliban gained significant power in the mid 1990's when they successfully overtook Kandahar and Kabul in Afghanistan.4
In 1998, Osama bin Laden issued his famous fatwa (religious ruling), amounting to a declaration of war against the United States (US). Islamic extremists were encouraged to carry out attacks against the US and any non-Muslim Americans. The call was answered just a few months after this fatwa; United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed.5
On September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda struck again- this time on American soil. Terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers in New York. President George W. Bush entered the US into the War on Terrorism. The enemy was al-Qaeda, the Taliban, other terrorist organizations that were hostile toward the US, and anyone harboring them.
On June 27, 2005 a MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying Luttrell, Murphy, Axe and Dietz departed the base at night en route to the landing zone...