Details and video have emerged about the “dynamic firefight” that took the life of Navy SEAL Charles Keating of Phoenix, Arizona.
Contrary to initial reports, the Navy SEALs were engaged in a pitched firefight after being called in when ISIS fighters overwhelmed Kurdish forces at a checkpoint.
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“This was a gunfight, a dynamic gunfight. He got hit in the course of this battle,” Army Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday of the close-up firefight with ISIS attackers north of Mosul.
Part of the quick reaction force for the area, US military advisors embedded with Kurdish troops called the SEALs in to help get them out of the chaos.
“When the fire erupted, the quick reaction force… came to the battle and provided the additional firepower needed to extract the remainder of our personnel,” Warren said in a video call to Pentagon reporters.
It was just after 9:32a.m. when Keating was shot and mortally wounded in battle.
Warren said it is still unclear whether Keating was hit by a sniper of by fire from nearby enemies since “there were bullets everywhere. It was a big fight. One of the largest we’ve seen recently”.
Black Hawk helicopters were called in for a medivac and were shot up as they lifted off with Keating on board. Despite reaching a field hospital within the “golden hour”, the one hour window where odds of survival are highest, Keating’s wound “was not survivable”.
Using video feeds from surveillance drones, Joint Tactical Air Controllers in the operations center coordinate more than 30 airstrikes from A-10 Warthogs and B-52 bombers, killing 58 enemy fighters.
“It was a bad day for us here yesterday,” Warren said on behalf of the more than 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraqi.
Dave Maynard, a former Navy SEAL and government contractor who is now the owner of Warfighter Academy in Escondido, California said Keating “knew what he was doing. He knew the risk was great, well worth it. He’d go back a second time, I guarantee you.”
Asked by reporters about President Obama’s promises of no American soldiers in combat activities, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said:
“Our overall approach is to enable local forces to do the fighting but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do any fighting at all,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said when asked about President Obama’s assurances of no American soldiers in direct combat.
“We are putting these people are risk every day,” including the aircrews who are flying strike missions daily over Iraq and Syria, “and, tragically, losses will occur,” he added.