— -- "Valuable intelligence” was gleaned from the raid in Yemen that targeted a compound used by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and left a Navy SEAL dead, according to a senior U.S. official.
The official’s comments were prompted by recent reports questioning whether any useful intelligence was gathered from the raid where Senior Chief William "Ryan" Owens was killed and and civilians were caught in the crossfire.
The Jan. 29 raid on a compound in rural southern Yemen was intended as an intelligence gathering mission targeting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. military has said that 14 AQAP fighters were killed in the raid, an ongoing U.S. Central Command review has determined that some civilians were also killed, including possibly children. Local reports in Yemen have said as many as 25 civilians may have been killed during the raid.
According to the official, intelligence gathered during the raid has provided insights into AQAP's activities, particularly the terror group's recruiting, training techniques and explosives manufacturing.
The official said the intelligence has providing information about who the terror group is targeting.
Information obtained during the raid is still being used by U.S. intelligence.
The official also noted that the raid targeted a compound used by known AQAP operatives, which would imply that good intelligence could be obtained at the location. The ferocity of the firefight was another indicator of the information they were protecting, the official said.
In addition to the review of claims of civilian casualties the Navy is also conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Owens' death. Such investigations are routinely conducted for the deaths of any deployed U.S. military service member.
An aircraft mishap review is also being conducted into the loss of a Marine MV-22 Osprey that was destroyed in the mission. Called in to medevac SEALs wounded in the raid, the aircraft experienced a "hard landing" that led to additional injuries among the aircrew. The Osprey was destroyed by a U.S. airstrike to prevent it from falling into AQAP hands.