Planning for the mission — which resulted in the death of Navy SEAL William Owens — stretched from last year, but was approved by Trump as his first major military operation.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford told the President that capturing the raid’s intended target would be a “game changer,” an anonymous official told NBC News.
Trump’s military advisers added that the previous leadership would not have been “bold enough” to launch it, the network said.
Questions about the rationale for the operation, which reportedly killed civilians, wounded three Americans and resulted in the loss of a $75 million helicopter, come as the Defense Department denied that it was aimed at a high-ranking terrorist.
Navy Capt. John Davis also said Tuesday that there was “never any intention, hope, anticipation, or plan” that Al Qaeda leader Qassim al-Rimi would be captured or killed in the raid.