The late-night Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed up to 31 Americans and 7 Afghans killed over 20 Navy SEALs, including members of Seal Team Six, the same unit that participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“It’s a big loss” for the SEALs,” one of the officials said. The numbers are high.”

“It is believed that about two dozen Special Operations Forces, including some from other services, were on board the aircraft, in addition to the Army crew flying the craft.” [...]

If the numbers are confirmed, the incident would be the most deadly for coalition forces in the Afghan war, according to a CNN count of international troop deaths.

Special forces have been conducting almost daily night-time raids against insurgent targets throughout Afghanistan. Saturday’s crash took place in the eastern province of Wardak, an area rife with insurgent activity.

AP itemizes the deaths as “22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew.”

It’s unclear whether any of the Seal Team Six members involved in the crash also were in the bin Laden raid. I doubt we will ever know that.

The Afghan operation has more and more become a story of night raids, of special operations, of unconventional tactics. So a large loss of life like this would be expected to include special ops forces.

The Taliban has taken responsibility for shooting down the helicopter. A spokesman for the Taliban said that the insurgent used a rocket propelled grenade. Wardak province is an area affiliated with the Haqqani network, one of the more active insurgent groups in the country. Insurgent activity has spiked in this area of Afghanistan in recent months.

According to icasualties.com, 374 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2011, an average of over 50 a month.