The True Story Of What Happened In Operation Kill Bin Laden

The New Yorker has pieced together an amazing report about the Abbottabad raid aka Operation Kill bin Laden. Comprised from the personal accounts of the SEALs themselves, it has it all: Obama, Crankshaft, Pacer, DEVGRU, Cairo the Dog and more.

"For God and country-Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo." That's what the SEAL said right before he shot Osama bin Laden in the chest and then above his left eye with a 5.56mm. bullet. It ended an operation that almost failed once it started and only succeeded because of the SEALs who dedicated themselves to the operation. The New Yorker story is well worth reading and then immediately re-reading just for those sort of nuggets. Though most of us have a general idea of the meticulous planning and ensuing chaos of the mission, seeing the story put like this is breathtaking. Almost movie-like.

When the operation was underway, Obama hadn't planned on watching. Until he came back from a round of golf and decided, well, "I need to watch this". According to The New Yorker, "Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed him, as did anyone else who could fit into the office." What they were watching — in that infamous picture — was real-time footage from an unarmed RQ 170 drone flying 15,000 feet (4572m) above Abbottabad. They saw one Black Hawk go down and how the team adjusted. A Senior Department official said the trouble they ran into in the mission wasn't anything out of the ordinary, in fact, he likened the raid to 'mowing the lawn'. And that's because they've been training for months in "a replica of the [bin Laden]compound had been built at the site, with walls and chain-link fencing marking the layout of the compound."

Once the SEAL team got in the compound and killed any hostiles, they went floor by floor, blowing up cages and eventually laying sight on bin Laden himself:

On the top stair, the lead SEAL swivelled right; with his night-vision goggles, he discerned that a tall, rangy man with a fist-length beard was peeking out from behind a bedroom door, ten feet away.

Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. In the end, neither woman was wearing an explosive vest.

18 minutes after they landed, the SEAL team had killed bin Laden. When President Obama went to meet with all the team members he spoke to many of them, asked them questions about what happened, received detailed explanations, asked more questions, got even better answers but never once did he ask them who fired the kill shot. One thing he did say though, when he heard about the role of Cairo the War Dog was this:

"There was a dog?" Obama interrupted. James nodded and said that Cairo was in an adjoining room, muzzled, at the request of the Secret Service. "I want to meet that dog," Obama said.

Don't we all. Read the entire story at The New Yorker.

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