Military

The Black Ops Force That Took Down Bin Laden

|

We may never know the name of the person who pulled the trigger on Osama Bin Laden. But in coming days, we'll likely learn a lot about the various military entities that contributed to the raid that took him out. At National Journal, Marc Ambinder has a great backgrounder on the secret Joint Special Operations Command team that executed yesterday's mission: 

Were it not for this high-value target, it might have been a routine mission for the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru.

This HVT was special, and the raids required practice, so they replicated the one-acre compound at Camp Alpha, a segregated section of Bagram Air Base. Trial runs were held in early April.

DevGru belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command, an extraordinary and unusual collection of classified standing task forces and special-missions units. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives. Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak. We only hear about JSOC when something goes bad (a British aid worker is accidentally killed) or when something really big happens (a merchant marine captain is rescued at sea), and even then, the military remains especially sensitive about their existence. Several dozen JSOC operatives have died in Pakistan over the past several years. Their names are released by the Defense Department in the usual manner, but with a cover story—generally, they were killed in training accidents in eastern Afghanistan. That's the code.

More here

NEXT: On the Dial: Nick Gillespie Talks Bin Laden's Death on WBAL at 11.05AM ET

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I still contend we could’ve gotten this done way cheaper and constitutional-like with letters of retribution.

    1. Which is essentially what the SEAL team did, but now we have the added bonus of a costly occupation.

      1. Does this mean we’re leaving?

        1. It means “Bingo” is having his period.

          1. Wow, you are a true scumbag. Well done.

            1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Bingo.

        2. If the administration follows John’s logic, probably not. Many Taliban escaped into Pakistan, and if we leave Afghanistan then they will just come back and probably be more pissed off at us then ever.

          1. So what else is new?
            These ass-clowns are always just looking for reason anyways…

          2. That is not logic. That is just reality. If we leave the Taliban will take over Afghanistan and start letting people plan terrorist attacks against us. That is what would happen. Pretending otherwise or not liking that isn’t going to change it. It sucks. But we don’t get peace until our enemies decide to give it to us. That is what you people can’t seem to understand.

            1. Or until our enemies are all dead. But most Americans are reluctant to consider genocide.

            2. Because, You know, the only place to properly plan terrorist actions is in Afghanistan…

              1. It worked prettywell for 9-11. And why wouldn’t the Taliban go back to allowing Al Quada operating in Afghanistan? They would have won and run the infidel out of the country. You people are fucking dellusional. It is like you think if you just believe something enough it will be true. If we just wish hard enough for these people to leave us alone they will. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.

                1. If we just wish hard enough for these people to leave us alone they will. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.

                  Not wishing hard enough; just waiting. No one worries about anarchists bombings or assasinations anymore.

              2. I really never matched 9/11 while I was in Pakistan, though. Afghanistan just had a better local vibe.

              3. Because, You know, the only ideal place to properly plan terrorist actions is in Afghanistan…

                This is more correct.

    2. In the article in National Journal, it says the JSOC command costs more than one billion dollars annually. Seems like a bargain compared to over a trillion per to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.

  2. erg. Letters of reprisal.

    1. Yes, and a glove to slap the bastard in the face

    2. bin Laden got a letter of surprisal. Does that count?

  3. OK, I promise not to tell anyone if you give me the secret identity of ‘Rather retarted’ and my spoof ‘rather’.

    Otherwise, I’m sending your top secret info to Wikileaks

    1. rather retarded died today during a routine training exercise in the bathtub. She drowned in 6 inches of water.

      1. …and I’ll donate to Reason

  4. I will continue to delude myself that the mission was carried out by Barry Bostwick and Megaforce
    http://www.badmovies.org/movie…..force6.jpg

    1. I almost like that movie.

      1. I haven’t seen it since I saw it in the theater. Why this and Condorman aren’t in heavy rotation on some Encore station is baffling.

        1. Megaforce isn’t simply a bad film.
          It diminishes us as a culture.

          1. I even kinda liked the song when it came out.

            1. I even kinda liked the song when it came out.

              Somewhere in America lies the rusting hulk of a 1976 shit-brown Honda civic. There’s a “707” casette under the seat.

              Good times. Well, not really.

          2. That being said, I am still shocked that at no point did Bush claim to have created a new anti-terrorism group and march out a bunch of gun-toting badasses in matching jumpsuits. He like playing dress-up and inventing new useless agencies, it would have been natural.

            1. I’m shocked, too. Although, all that privileged info could partly explain a lot of his bumbling and snickering when talking off the prompter on these matters. The other part being his frat boy mentality combined with being the son a former CIA director and president.

  5. Missed opportunity. It should be called D?ve Gru.

  6. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives.

    Our modern version of the Praetorian Guard. I’ll bet all the believers in the Imperial Presidency get a tingle up the leg thinking about that.

    1. a tingle up the leg

      “Thrill” up my leg, you bastard. Thrill!

      1. the tingle comes before the thrill.

    2. People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. These would be those rough men.

      1. Does the thought of “rough men” excite you or something?

        1. Would there be something wrong with it if it did? You have a problem with homosexuals or something?

          And you can’t win with you motherfuckers. If we have a conventional army, you scream empire and how we should do it through law enforcement and covert ops. But then when we set up covert ops, you scream petorian guard. Why don’t you just be honest and say nothing the US does will ever be acceptable short of just dying for the cause of cosmotarianism?

          1. Don’t bring the Petorian Guard into this. They were around for maybe a week.

      2. There are plenty of rough men in the regular Army, USMC and Navy. There aren’t any in the AF of course, but three out of four is pretty good.

        No John, you dimwit, I am not decrying the value or valor of those who defend the country. I am not keen on siphoning off a select group to do as the President bids with no accountability through the normal chain of command or Congressional oversight. I mean, god forbid we should learn anything from history – just trust your dear leader, right? Is that too nuanced of a position for a plaque-in-the-veins conservative?

    3. no the better analogy is samuri

  7. All I know is my new conspiracy theory – this was done to boost new map pack release on May 3, 2011.

    1. If PSN ever gets their fucking act together that is.

  8. where can we watch this onlineee!?!?!?

    1. +1 Would LOL again

  9. I’m happy to hear men of color are leading these operations.

    1. I wondered about women on the team

      1. I poop with my vagina.

        1. Innovative.

        2. Is this a spoof?

          1. Is this? Am I? Wha?

          2. do you really have to ask?

        3. Used her own cute li’l custom-made Glock.

      2. I’m sure they’re there in support/”morale” roles.

        Seriously, the irony is spec ops units have few black guys as well as other minorities.

          1. Working w/ them

            1. I dunno about other branches, but the Army spec ops guys from airborne on up to Delta are a pretty pasty bunch in my experience.

              Of course, combat arms in the Army is white boy heavy, too. Minorities are underrepresented in combat arms vs. the percentage of the general population. Don’t ask me why, but it’s a well known issue that only gets magnified in the spec ops community.

              1. Yeah, one theory is that it’s cultural. Another is, particularly w/ Navy and AF spec ops units, swimming aptitude is the limiting factor that weeds most out and since you don’t find too many black guys as competitive swimmers or on water polo teams, you just don’t enough of a recruiting pool (pun intended) to start with.

                1. My theory is white poeple are fucking crazy.

                  On a side note there are a lot of Hispanics that hold combat positions….or at least the News Hours death roll call seems to indicate that.

                  1. ^^THIS^^

                2. “Another is, particularly w/ Navy and AF spec ops units, swimming aptitude is the limiting factor that weeds most out…”

                  This is the reason I’ve always heard. Never understood why the service couldn’t teach someone how to swim if they needed to. I mean, they teach you their own way for everything else.

                3. Black people are great swimmers, check this out:
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPk2zl5s6xM

              2. whoa – there’s alotta hispanics in the infantry & marines.

                1. Again, I speak only about the Army. Relative to overall population is the key. Hispanics are 16% of the overall population. Representation in combat arms for Hispanics is roughly 11%. So not uncommon, but underrepresented.

                  1. Maybe, but the fact that a single Hispanic man has the heart and fighting ability of five white guys more than makes up for it.

                    1. Well, immigrants are doing all the jobs Americans won’t do, so it only follows.

                    2. “a single Hispanic man has the heart and fighting ability of five white guys”

                      Which is why Mexico kick the US’s @ss so bad back in 1848.

  10. Since I haven’t had a chance to voice my opinion on the matter in any of the prior threads that got so quickly cluttered, here’s the gist:

    Bin Laden was a prick and ghastly fuck and I’m glad he’s dead. But I really didn’t feel any satisfaction over it like I always thought I would. I kinda got an anxiety, not because of the expected blowback, but more for fear that this would provide a backwards rationalization for all manner of military adventurism.

    The biggest thing is though: Bin Laden hasn’t been strategically or tactically relevent or important since his assets were frozen almost 10 years ago. He’s been a symbol, and I don’t think he was a target ten years in the making. I think right after 9/11, the thirst for his blood was tempered by the military focusing more on taking out the strategically important elements (training camps, concentrations of radicals, etc.). They probably could’ve had him long ago, but didn’t make him the priority. When Obama came to office, he made it his personal mission to kill the bastard, and directed all efforts towards that end, because he knew it would be a PR hit. It is.

    But the real threat to our national security is the fact that we’re borrowing nearly $200 million every hour, mostly through monetizing debt and destroying our currency.

    1. how do you know binLaden hasn’t been relevent for 10 yrs?

      1. Admittedly, I don’t. But considering his money had dried up and that there hadn’t been any major, fantastical terrorist attacks with his fingerprints on it, I’d wager that he wasn’t operationally relevent. Does that mean that this wasn’t an important psychological win for us? No. But it would make it less of a psychological loss for the radicals. I don’t think this will be a blow to terrorism writ large the way that Zarqawi’s death was in Iraq, because Zarqawi was operationally involved in planning and orchestrating attacks there. There hasn’t been any evidence that Osama has had any sort of operational influence in the past ten years.

        1. madrid, sharm el sheik, mumbei

        2. Symbolism is a big deal in wars. Makes sense given they are both completely man-made and irrational. But it is what it is.

    2. Yup. Who cares? He hasn’t been relevant for years.

      1. Ted Bundy hadn’t abducted a coed in decades when they fried him. I still wasn’t sorry to see him go down. Same principle here.

    3. Symbols do have importance, though. It’s very important for a country to at least demonstrate that we can (albeit ten years later) reach out and touch someone like Bin Laden. Part of the mystique of the Bin Laden’s in the world is the mythos they foster with their followers that they are untouchable.

      What’s the long term value of Bin Laden’s death? One can only speculate.

      1. Thanks to the way life works, we’re always going to live in a world where [insert evil mastermind] is dead now. How many times has the world changed for the better so far?

        It’s nice that Osama is dead, now we can sit back and comfortably wait until the next crazy fuck wants to make a name for himself.

        1. No one ever suggested that when you arrest the burglar living down the street, that burglary stops.

          1. Agreed. But the death of bin Laden is a bigger symbol than the arrest of the burglar down the street. Now the government is going to hold this up as proof of the necessity of the war on terror. Of course now that we don’t know who’s in charge we’ll have to allocate more resources to it. I know I sure feel safer now.

            1. The absence of Bin Laden’s death was held up as proof of the necessity of the war on terror. What you’re really talking about is the essence of government, not about Bin Laden or Justice in general.

              I don’t disagree with your concerns, but I’d rather have the same anxieties about my government with Bin Laden dead vs alive.

      2. In fact, it is even more important as time goes on. The message should be clear: 10 days, or 10 years. The United States may not be fast, but it will get you.

  11. I hope the fact he was cought in Pakistan is not used as an excuse to [less covertly] go to war with Pakistan.

    1. Hope is not a plan!

    2. Dono’t worry, our war in pockystan will remain covert and underreported.

    3. umm…pakistan is nuclear, outright war with them may not end so well.

      1. Exactly, this is why I hope it does NOT happen.

  12. HE DIDN’T GET A TRIAL!!! MURDER!!!ONE!1!ELEVENTY!!!EXCLAMAT!ON POINTS!!!!!!!!

    1. a lub-rahl ordered bin laden killed sherlock

    2. But this one was initiated by Barack Obama so it is ok. Obama was just “spreading the bullets around”,

  13. He was probably not that involved in directing Al Qaeda in a long time, but he was still a bit symbol, and in wars like this symbolism is important.

    It also shows our staying power in pursuing the conflict, that 10 years later we’re still coming after him, which is also an important message for our enemies.

    Overall, a nice, solid, victory in a conflict that will last decades.

    1. correction, “big” symbol

    2. The IRS also has impressive staying power. There are alternatives that would lead to more prosperity, though.

      The conflict can end today if our representatives remember their oath to the constitution. Who knows? Maybe my future children might be able to fund their own government rather than mine.

      We got the DHS, locks on cockpit doors, Saddam Hussein, and now the evil mastermind himself…. I think it’s about time we scale back things in the Middle East, right?

  14. I have it on good authority that Chuck Norris got off the head shot. He had Steven Segal covering him.

    1. That’s what we want you to think.

      1. It was me bitches and I brought my Anal team 😉

    2. Heh I heard it was Obama himself who pulled the trigger.

      1. Hence the “black ops”?

        I know – RAAAAAAAACIST!!

  15. I’d like to buy those guys a beer, slap them on the back for a job well done, and then de-fund them and transfer them all to cushy jobs at the Park Service or something before they can pull any of this shit on American citizens.

    1. before they can pull any of this shit on American citizens.

      The Police have that job covered already.

    2. transfer them all to cushy jobs at the Park Service or something

      STEVE SMITH NOT LIKE THIS PLAN!

  16. UBL is fortunate that special ops got him before being torn apart alive by Bill Kristol’s groomed, bare hands.

  17. So Osama hid in plain-view, inside of a large mansion/complex. And it took us 10 years to find him? I can only imagine how much longer it would have taken if he had actually done, uh, a competent job – like a 7/11 clerk in Idaho.

    1. “Paper or jihad? I mean plastic, infidel. I mean sir.”

    2. If Bin ladin had been living in Idaho and tried to do something really dastardly like buy raw milk or a sawed off shotgun, the feds would have capped his ass long before today.

    3. I love it here in Idaho, but methinks someplace a little less monochromatic would be a better hiding place for someone like OBL.

  18. Heard the news last night, but haven’t heard any details on this operation, except this blogpost.

    I have read some scant reports that one of the helicopters crashed. That’s significant. Is it true?

    1. It’s in the link to the article.

      1. Aw, crap, sorry — it’s in the link to the ‘bin Laden’s compound’ article in H&R.

      2. Thanks, I’ve been reading the linked article just now and I found the quote:

        One U.S. helicopter was downed due to unspecified “maintenance” issues, one official said. The U.S. personnel blew up the helicopter before leaving the area. The team was on the ground for only 40 minutes

        Hope no US forces were killed.

        1. Damn those “maintenance issues”! They always crop up in the middle of combat.

    2. Sounds like they put it down and couldn’t get it up, so to speak. It happens. Coulda been worse, but sounds like they took it in stride and blew/torched it on the way out.
      I wonder when international media will come out w/ pics of it though.

      1. It’s always “mechanical issues” when US forces lose a helicopter. The enemy never shoots them down, apparently.

        1. Except in Mogadishu.

          1. Those were “mechanical failures” too, caused by RPG.

            1. Everyone dies by lack of oxygen to the brain.

        2. military friends of mine call them “crash hawks”.

  19. As we speak Rumsfeld’s elite squad of frogmen are retrieving the body so it can be stuffed and mounted.

    1. I heard the body has already been dumped at sea. Nothing to see here folks keep up with the mindless flag waving. USA!USA! Isn’t nationalism fun?

      1. Yeah, but we have the DNA, taken who knows when.

        1. On TV this only takes minutes, what gives?

          1. Because on TV, everything is covered in semen.

            1. Just like real life…

              1. or my wife *rimshot*

                1. or my wife *rimshot*

                  Next time aim for the big hole in the middle.

  20. So, who’s runnin’ thangs in the brickyard now?

  21. Two things struck me this morning…

    1- Chanting crowds are chanting crowds the world over. Maybe we’re not as different as we’d like to think we are. Substitute “God is Great” for “USA, USA…”, and if you were totally uninformed about the situation, it would sound – and mean – exactly the same.

    2- On the ride in this morning, I did nothing but switch back forth between radio news shows, and despite existence of either real or supposed bias, NPR’s coverage was much more in-depth, fact-filled and well-rounded than any of the other news services.

    1. Substitute “God is Great” for “USA, USA…”,

      I’ve never found “God is Great” to be offensive. Except when someone shouts it as they fly a plane full of civilians into a tall building.

      I’d be equally offended if someone shouted “USA! USA!” as they knowingly dropped bombs on a preschool.

      Context is everything.

  22. The article reads like a cheer-leading piece. “Double-tap, boom-boom” — why don’t they just say he was shot twice in the head? “Extra-legal”? Don’t they mean “illegal”?

    1. Doesn’t “Extra-legal” mean MORE legal? Like legal plus some more leagal on top? So this was actually more legal than regular legal.

      Snake! Listen, I want to talk for 20 mins about my personal life. Use your comm to hear my stupid story.

      1. you mean like extraordinary actually means ordinary with some more ordinary on top? or how it means “not ordinary”?

      2. Extra in this sense means “beyond”. Like melman says, “extraordinary” means beyond the ordinary. “Extra-legal” means something that is beyond what is legal – typically used to indicate a government doing something byeond its legitimate powers.

      3. hey look humorous point
        ZZZZOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!

        ahh, there it went.

  23. Ever notice how gun control bill authors and advocates say “bullets” instead of “cartridges/rounds”, “clips” instead of “magazines”, “that shit at the front that looks scary as fuck” instead of “barrel shroud”, and “assault pistol” instead of “relatively low-caliber semi-automatic”?

    Just a thought.

    As rabidly patriotic as I am, a symbolic victory like this is just that – symbolic. Al-Qaeda’s probably planned replacements (contingency plans).

    1. No no! It’s a belt-fed, automatic, high-powered, pistol-grip, armor-piercing, cop-killing bullet hose designed to be spray-fired from the hip into playgrounds full of children without even aiming that shoots so fast you can’t even count it.

      Remember when Rep. McCarthy couldn’t tell Tucker Carlson what a barrel shroud was, even though she was sponsoring legislation that would ban them? After he asked her again and again what it was and why it should be banned, she weakly answered, “It’s a shoulder thing that goes up.”

      I love watching that clip any time. He totally owned that woman and exposed her for the Brady Campaign tool that she is.

  24. Regardless of the political aspects of this event, the special ops team was obviously on their game and deserve props for their level of dedication, discipline and focus for pulling this off.

    1. They do tend to have their shit together when used for the right mission. Just don’t send them to take down an airfield in Panama.

      1. Lol.

  25. Where are all the people who would usually be here insisting that Obama should have had Congress officially declare war on Pakistan first?

    1. They may have been shamed into silence for once. It’s really nice we should kill Osama every day.

    2. Oh come on Ken, that’s not a serious comment or even remotely serious criticism and you know it, or should know it. That was weak.

      1. I know, it’s hard to imagine how, at a time like this, somebody could point out that doing what’s in the best interests of the United States can be smart regardless of whether Congress approves it.

        …especially at a time like this.

        1. That’s not what that comment pointed out by any means. As others have noted the difference between yesterday’s narrow operation to achieve an authorized goal and the general use of broad military power against another nation are vastly different.

    3. Because sending in a SEAL team to kill an outlaw is exactly like taking sides in a civil war?

    4. Pakistan wasn’t the target of the use of force, and taking out bin Laden was definitely within the scope of the AUMF (which was against Al Qaeda).

      Contrast with Libya, where government forces are the target.

    5. because we’re not at war with Pakistan?

    6. OTOH, Pakistan is a sovereign nation. How would the U.S. react if some elite fighting force from another country secretly and without giving us notice ahead of time flew into our air space, landed on our soil in the yard of a private house, opened fire with automatic weapons and killed a few people, took the body of one, blew up their disabled helicopter and left it there to burn in a suburban neighborhood, and then flew away?

      Not saying they shouldn’t have gotten the bastard as soon as they knew he was there and had the opportunity, just pondering the fact that we did invade a sovereign nation’s airspace without even letting them know we were going to do it first, let alone getting their permission.

      1. I’ve been wondering about that. The absence of a torrent of outrage from the Pakistanis would indicate that we had some sort of quiet agreement in place.

        1. Ding, ding, ding.

          The house was 1,000 yards from their main military academy for Christ’s sake. The fight took about 40 minutes, per the NYT. It probably was useful to call up people in the Pakistani military beforehand so as not to have the assault force shot down by mistake. My guess is that a couple of B-2s with a target drone or two were on standby orbiting the house, when the call went through asking for permission. If the drone then saw a bunch of people trying to leave the house, it’d get leveled by the B-2s. But I’m pretty sure you’d want to deconflict the assault team from any Pakistani forces. Be really embarrassing to have some trigger happy SAM team think they were being invaded by India (which is about 15 miles away, per Google Maps) and end up snuffing a dozen or so elite special operations guys.

          My guess is that someone in the ISI sold him out. Why now? I have no idea. The burial at sea is just another weird touch. Maybe Obama’s hoping the earthers, like the birthers, will discredit the GOP again? Or indeed UBL’s been dead these last few years, and this is just the way of wrapping up the whole affair. Surprising that you go to all of the effort to cart out UBL’s corpse, all of the intel, a couple of live ones, and you don’t have a show and tell in front of cameras on the Vinson (or whatever ship it was), somewhere in the Arabian Sea? You mean to tell me you couldn’t have gotten a dozen or so embedded reporters to film the arrival of UBL’s body and have a dog and pony show like what happened for the Hussain brothers?

          I agree with you all though: we’ve won, now when do we get rid of the TSA, the Patriot Act stuff, and the troops get to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan?

  26. Why would Suderman ruin this story with a picture of a shitty game from a shitty game series? Battlefield FTW.

    1. This is the Suder-mahn I know. All picture, no alt-text.

  27. Can we just nuke them next time? Listen people, nukes work, you see how nice Japan is? They no longer have imperial ambitions, they’re not longer conducting grisly experiments on the Chinese, they’re no longer raping innocent yellow women, now they’re a prosperous capitalist nation.

    Lesson learned? If you nuke them, they won’t fight.

    With that said, I salute the troops for finally getting the job done and for putting up with Obama.

    Seriously, the military should have a PUWO medal aka. Putting Up With Obama.
    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

  28. I think it is so cute that everyone buys the story that OBL is dead and not being held somewhere and tortured for information. People are so god damn gullible, even the people who think of themselves as too cynical and skeptical to be fooled.

    1. Robots are stealing my luggage.

    2. There is a work of fiction that pretty well covers this, called Carnifex.

    3. As gullible as conspiracy theorists who wouldn’t believe he was dead even if they saw the body?

      1. A body means nothing. OBL used multiple body doubles. They could just grab one of them to use as a plausible OBL corpse. Face it, OBL is just too useful to kill right away.

      2. How convenient no body. But the government told us so it must be true because they never lie. Who is the gullible one?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.