Members of the Navy's Seal Team 6 usually accomplish their objectives. These are guys who executed the daring raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.
So when they fail, it comes as a bit of a shock to the global military and defence community.
They failed this weekend, in a brazen attempt to capture a key member of Somalia's al Shabab terror group, and NBC News has some details about what went wrong.
Citing multiple military sources, they report that a team of roughly two dozen Seals came ashore in the town of Barawe in southern Somalia and took positions around a building. Their mission: to capture a man known as Ikrima, who was believed to be in one of the houses.
Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, better known by his nom de guerre, Ikrima, is a Somalian militant commander who ordered an attack on a United Nations compound that killed 14 people in June and has ties to al Qadda operatives, officials said.
Just as the Seals prepared to get their man, however, a lone Somali terrorist came outside to smoke a cigarette.
"The fighter played it cool, and gave no indication that he had spotted the Seals," Cole and Miklaszewski write. "But he came back out shooting, firing rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle."
They reportedly could see their man, Ikrima, through the window of one of the buildings, but as more fighters descended on their position and children intermingled through the crowds, they could do nothing to reach him.
Surrounded and fighting for their lives, the Seals were left with no option than to call in for air support and fight their way out of there.
In their rush to leave, the Seals reportedly left some gear behind, remnants of a raid gone wrong, but where they were lucky to escape unscathed.
Included in the gear was a Garmin navigator. Jack Murphy, managing editor at SOFREP, posted on Facebook that the device is likely full of waypoints that the terrorists could use.
"Never a good thing but probably not worth going back for if you are taking effective fire," he wrote.
In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said of the raid, "While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture, US military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing."
Little described Ikrima as a top commander in al-Shabab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia that has claimed responsibility for the September 21 attack on a Nairobi, Kenya, shopping mall that left nearly 70 people dead. It’s unclear whether Ikrima had a role in the attack, but other officials said he helps coordinate foreign fighters for al-Shabab.
Kenyan intelligence officials believe Ikrima, a Kenyan national of Somali origin, has been central to al-Shabab’s efforts to strike international targets outside Somalia for at least two years.
United Nations officials said Monday that their security analysts had received information this year that Ikrima had ordered attacks on two UN locations in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Several weeks later, on June 19, al-Shabab militants blew up a van packed with explosives outside one of the UN offices, then stormed the compound. The assault triggered a firefight that killed at least 14 people plus all seven attackers.
US officials declined to say whether they had specific intelligence suggesting Ikrima was planning attacks against US facilities or interests. They said the raid followed months of planning but refused to elaborate on its timing.