Much has been said about the raid that takes out UBL. Forget UBL and who he is for a little while and focus on the making of a raid. There are those that say Obama deserves the credit. There are some that say it only took 2.5 years to get him since Obama took office. There are some that ask, why did it take so long? Why could he not be found? Why does it take so many? A man on dialysis cannot be that hard to find and that makes Bush incompetent, some pontificate. UBL is dead and Obama did it, yell the lemmings. Nobody focuses on the raid, the preparation of the raid, the support involved in the raid, the exit strategy for the raid, and the people involved in the raid.
The focus mistakenly and intentionally is focused on the political fallout and praise of the raid. It did not take “guts” to make the call as the news media tries to portray…..it takes common sense. Obama never would have made the call if the political fallout would have been negative. His focus was not on the kill at all….. it was on the 2012 election and how to use the kill to his advantage. Obama would have received positive reaction from me had he actually given credit where it should be focused but “to the victor, the spoils”. So, the raid happened on his watch and that is great but it is the culmination of painstaking research, intelligence gathering, logistical planning, the placement of assets, the entry and exit tactics and security. So, the making of a raid, is necessary to understand the final product and that is the man that is claimed to have been killed. For the purposes of this article, let us make the “assumption” that it is the real UBL and not some government conspiracy.
In order to have a raid, you must have an objective. In this case the objective is UBL and his demise. Someone had to make the initial call and it was George Bush II. He is the individual that ordered the death of UBL. Obama did not order the death of UBL…..he only pulled the trigger. But once the death warrant is issued, several things must take place before “trigger pulling” could take place.
The very first thing that has to be done is intelligence gathering. We are not talking about military intelligence, we are talking about the various intelligence organizations around the world. They MUST be involved. Thousands of people monitoring satellite photos, cell phone conversations, emails, snail mail, and observations on the ground by recruited individuals within the community are all involved. The military intelligence service is ONLY for battlefield conditions. It is not James Bond type stuff and never has been. It must be remembered that the military is a tool that is used by civilian politicians. It can either be a hammer or a scalpel but the military is still a tool and it is more effective as a hammer. However, special forces can be a scalpel as well. Intelligence gathering has to be end sourced. That means that all the information that comes in must be sanitized and rendered useful or non-useful and then verified yet again. It is common that 92% of all intelligence gathered is non-useful. Civilian intelligence resources must be put into place to monitor known traffic routes, safe houses, friends, family, and business contacts. UBL had been spotted many times but getting to him was not that easy. Oh, it would have been easy to take him out with a missile but the collateral damage would have been massive and to ensure a proper kill, the ratio must be a nine to one ratio. Nine missiles…..not one. This has been proven time and again on and off the battlefield. So, a “target” will be monitored for months and years before an actual hit is ordered to avoid massive civilian kills. ( Personally, I would have ordered an early hit regardless of casualties and political fallout ). It is even more difficult if there is a state government involved. Let us use Tora Bora as an excellent example. We involved the Afghan intelligence sources and the Afghan government. UBL was warned as we were coming in the front door. From that point on, he was going to be elusive. After that, UBL stopped using cell phones, land lines, satellite phones, emails and computers and went into hiding and courier usage. In fact, he just plain disappeared from normal intelligence activity……he went “black”. From that point, he had safe houses and protected status in Iran and Pakistan. This man never went back to caves.
In order to do a sanitary hit, there must be ample preparation. A standard operating procedure must be developed for various scenarios. For example, to raid a compound is different than raiding a set of caves which is different from raiding a neighborhood, which is different from raiding a pathway or road which is different from raiding the local grocery store which is different than raiding a fortified compound. So, every contingency must be planned for and developed for each possible scenario. Then, once established, mockups are found and built for practice and practice does not take place in days or months. It takes years to establish training guidelines and command and control structure and communications. As a former member of a special forces unit assigned to DEA for drug lab hits all over the world, we trained incessantly for 18 months to hit just three labs within two miles of each other and the labs were static. We trained for six months to recon one two mile area in Laos in 1970. So, to establish a proper SOP for every contingency would take years. Once established, training will take place. Day and night training, in all kinds of weather and visibility and all kinds of contingencies must be trained for and this raid was no exception. They planned for the loss of equipment and had an SOP in place in the event that there was a loss of one helicopter and/or the loss of two helicopters and so on. To assume that a raid goes off without a hitch is to sign the death warrants of the teams involved. Once Bush II made the decision to hit, Rumsfeld takes over and directs the plan for it.
What assets are necessary? An asset is defined as military units as well as equipment. So, to pull off this hit, what needed to be done? Location had to be considered and SOP established for each one and then code named. Each scenario uses different assets so you can take out of your mind that the same assets are used for every contingency…they are not. In this case, since the distance was so great, how do we get air assets into place and out again without refueling? You cannot. There was NO cooperation from the Pakistani government. We had already established that they were not to be trusted. So, staging grounds had to be established and secured and kept secret. Everyone thinks that SST6 was the only team involved….it was not. Who do you think secured the compound so SST6 could do its job? It takes Army Green Berets….so there were teams trained to secure the area and stop any reinforcement while the hit team moves in. How do you think refueling takes place over a seven hundred mile trip? Air refueling was out due to the need to stay under Pakistani radar. So, refueling sites within enemy territory (Pakistan) had to be established and secured for the raid and the decision made that the refueling points could not be compromised EVEN if innocent civilians wandered into the area. US Army Rangers secure the “gas stations” along the way. While the raiding party is inbound, fuel bladders are air lifted to specific spots for the return trip and secured by the Rangers. Once the fuel starved raiding party was on its way back, they had to stop and be refueled. Once that was accomplished, then the Rangers needed air assets to get out. THERE MUST BE AN SOP FOR EACH PHASE OF THE OPERATION AND FOR EACH UNIT IN THE OPERATION FOR EACH AND EVERY CONTINGENCY. And, each of these must be practiced over and over and over again. In addition, there had to be false landing zones to freeze enemy assets in place. So, several fake missions would be run at the same time to jam the airwaves with pre-warnings so none could figure out what was actually happening. Rescue teams had to be formed if an A/C went down at any phase of the operation. Equipment is mechanical and can fail at any time and must be planned for in case needed. SOPs are made for this and planned and practiced as well.
Now, this is just a snap shot of what takes place. The next thing that has to take place is patience and the right place to fit the SOP and contingencies that were developed. So…it becomes a waiting game. Each contingency, utilizes different units…so when it was decided to hit the compound those specific units were alerted and staged to await the final order of the Potus at the time. This was not an Obama operation. It was a military operation ordered and trained by Bush and executed by Obama. There are thousands that need to be praised, not one. I am sure there will be questions…so ask away. It is ok to pick out specifics, I will answer them within classified bounds.