On March 9, Gen. Joseph Votel said that there were no errors in judgment made in the planning and execution of a Yemen raid. This assertion signaled that the investigation into the raid is now over.
The raid of a small Yemen village was approved by President Donald Trump and carried out by the Navy's SEAL Team 6 on Jan. 29, reports The New York Times. The raid was prompted by the presence of a senior al-Qaeda collaborator within the village. The goal of the raid was to obtain cell phones and computers in order to gather intelligence regarding the terrorist group.
Trump called the raid a success, stating that 14 members of al-Qaeda had been killed, and that valuable intelligence had been gathered, CNN reports. However, some would say that the raid was not entirely successful. Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens was killed, a $75 million helicopter was damaged, and six service members were wounded with non-life threatening injuries.
Owens' death marks the first American combat death of the Trump administration. During Trump's address to Congress on Feb. 28, the president took a moment to recognize Owens' widow.
Politico reports that several lawmakers, in addition to Owens' father, felt that an investigation into the raid was necessary. In light of the casualties and destruction that occurred during the raid, the Pentagon did indeed decide to take on three separate investigations, including into the raid itself, civilian casualties, and the destruction of the helicopter.
According to The Associated Press, the investigations were meant to determine the causes of the raid's problems, as well as to determine whether sufficient intelligence was gathered to effectively conduct the raid. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, presided over an internal review of the investigation regarding the raid itself. He addressed his findings to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Votel told the Committee that during the investigation, he was "looking for information gaps where we can't explain what happened in a particular situation or we have conflicting information between members of the organization," reports the AP. "I am looking for indicators of incompetence or poor decision making or bad judgment throughout all this," he said.
At the end of the investigation, Votel said that he was unable to find any examples of the incompetence that he was looking for. He therefore said any further investigation was unnecessary.
Votel also commented on the status of the other two investigations. He stated that between four and 12 civilians were killed during the raid, and that the investigation into the helicopter crash is still ongoing.