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Thanks to my good friend Matt Gallagher (http://kaboombook.com/) I have stumbled across what appears to be the most detailed and accurate account of the planning and execution of the raid that killed the most sought after terrorist in the world.
The story on the New Yorker website by Nicholas Schmidle is extremely details and seems to corroborate a lot of the other info that came out about the raid. I starts with initial planning a while back and goes through to the details of dumping his body into the ocean, and the meeting between the President and the men who carried out the raid.
I have to assume it is accurate for now, and if it is, it is an awesome story.
A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.)
Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”
Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”
Yesterday I posted a blog entry about the President’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. Around the time I was posting that, apparently GEN Petraeus was testifying in front of the Senate committee which was confirming him as the head of the CIA. ‘
It appears that GEN Petraeus has the same reservations and concerns that ADM Mullen had.
Hours later in a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next director of the CIA, GEN. David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, nearly echoed ADM. Mullen word for word. “The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation than what we had recommended,” Petraeus said.
Gen. Petraeus said that over the past month he had a series of meetings with the president during which he recommended a number of different options for reducing the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, each with its own risk assessments.
Petraeus conceded that no general ever has all the troops and resources he wants, but when the president makes a decision “it is the responsibility of the military to salute smartly.”
So it is not just the SecDef, and Admiral Mullen warning that the President’s plan was too aggressive, but also the top combat commander in Afghanistan (the same guy that turned around and won Iraq and will soon be the CIA Director), GEN Petraeus. Yes it is ultimately the President’s choice, but that also means he can NEVER blame anything on anyone else, not on President Bush, not on GEN McChrystal, not on GEN Petraeus, not on ANYONE. This is HIS war to lose so I hope he realizes that and takes that to heart.
You know if the President and the policy makers that surround him would just read and consult with milblogs like this one, Mudville Gazette, Blackfive, Afghan Quest and many others then we could save him the embarrassment of having us say “I told you so“.
Now that I’ve had a few days to ingest, digest, and perform my own mission analysis on your newÂ plan for Afghanistan, I’m a bit concerned.Â My concerns are based from my experiences of being on one end of the spectrum at the tip of of the spear defending freedom in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, to the opposite end of that spectrum in Kuwait serving in the logistical nerve center for both Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).Â My good friend Bouhammer has already brought up on his blog many excellent points in the pros and cons to your new plan, and now I’m going to take a few minutes to point out some more.
Until last Tuesday, our primary mission in Kuwait has been to meet your timeline for the responsible withdrawlÂ of forces in OIF.Â TheÂ elements on theÂ groundÂ at the nerve centerÂ have spent many hours developing different courses of action in order to accomplish this mission that you had outlined earlier this year.Â However, we were also aware that after General McChrystal â€™s request earlier this fallÂ for additional troops, we would be simultaneously tasked with a parallel primary mission to support.Â I must admit that the length of time (3 months) that you took to finally decided (its one thing to analyze your options but over thinking is obvious here) on a planÂ to surge theÂ OEF forces and then stating that you want the majority of those forces in place within 6 months really caught us with our pants down.Â Apparently you didn’t consider the effects of winter weather in Afghanistan.Â There are reasons why operations almost completely shut down during the winter months, let alone trying to shove 30,000 new troops on the ground at this time.Â If the logistical world could’ve had 2 of those 3 months back that you used on making your decision, then we might have been able toÂ attain your 6 monthÂ timeline and still juggle around enough helping hands to continue with the OIF withdrawl (which itself is a huge tasking).Â I won’t get started on yourÂ timeline of after 18 months we will startÂ our withdrawl from OEF, because mostÂ of the new troops will still be less then 12 months on the ground.
Now I don’t want to come off as a complete naysayer.Â The elements of the military have been given a task by their President and we will do everything within our abilities to accomplish this mission.Â Mr. President, I’m going to inform you thatÂ over the course of the next 6-8 months you will be unhappy as a result of the slower then expected withdrawl from Iraq andÂ not having all of yourÂ new troops on the ground in Afghanistan.Â Then you will have the loonies on the left and the war hawks on the right equally upset with you.Â I’m just giving you my concerns as I’m looking at it fromÂ the logistical nerve center and the rumblings I’m hearing from within.
Click on the link below to get a behind the scenes look at the President’s decision making process:Â Â
I have been talking within my circles of Afghan vets for the last four months while the President has had in his possession about the logistics of surging in forces. We have all seen this this is going to be a major issue. There is nowhere to put these guys. And as the article states, how are they going top put them there when flying is probably the only real way to move troops around in the winter.
It took four months to plan and now will take only six months to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a rapid pace that surprises observers both inside and outside of the Defense Department.
To put that many troops into country in a six month time window is nothing short of miraculous. This is not a linear battle, where we have battle lines and rear areas that are relatively safe. It is a 360 degree battlefield that requires 360 degree security.
When former President Bush sent 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, where the infrastructure, roads and entry points are far superior to Afghanistan, the surge took place over five months, which was considered an enormous feat..
The statement above says it all. In Iraq they could drive the vehicles up from Kuwait, they could fly the troops into BIAP, and they had large FOBs already like Taji, Mosul, etc. that they could throw up tents and cots in a hurry.
None of this exists in Afghanistan. So how in the heck do they expect to get them all in country in six months? I am sure there are senior Army logisticians that are drinking heavily tonight or banging their heads into the wall as they are being asked to perform the impossible.
In my opinion, either the President is not listening to his Sr. Army Advisers about what this surge will take, or they are lying to him and telling him what he wants to hear and not the truth.
It is really getting old to keep typing the same posts every month or two about how a new record has been set about it being the deadliest month. August was really bad, but October has gotten much worse and the month is not even over yet. Of course this should come as no surprise. We are actively going after an enemy with more vigor and more troops than ever before during the time that they tend to try and do as much damage as possible before retreating back across the mountains of Pakistan for the winter.
October and even November in some places are worse in combat action than the summer months. The fair-weather fighters that normally face off against the coalition don’t like to fight in the cold, and have a hard time with their motorcycles trying to escape in the snow-filled wadis. So they like to go out with a bang and leave an impression that they hope carries the fear amongst the people over the winter months. Of course they still attack with the random suicide bomber or car bomb just to remind all they are still around.
I know there is a lot being said about the President’s inability to make a decision on if he should surge or not. I don’t know how much he has to see in order to make a decision, but I wish he would hurry up and be the Commander-in-Chief he is charged to be. The reality is that these deaths would have not have been avoided even if he had made the decision back on August 29th when GEN McChrystal sent it. It takes time to ramp up the troops, move them and logistics, etc. Heck, there probably is not even space anywhere, on any FOB in Afghanistan to take tens of thousands of more troops right now. All of that infrastructure has to be put into place.
Since this is an asymmetrical fight, there are no forward or rear lines. This means they can’t simply drop the troops in the desert and say live here. As the threat is 360 degrees. Hence why we live on FOBs with 360 degree security.
Of course this does not excuse the President from making a decision, but I want to be fair here and say I am not blaming his inability to decide and act like a leader for the loss of all these brave souls right now. However there will be a point in time around January or February that if troops are not in place we can put the blame on this stall in the decision-making process.
Ok Mr. President and circle of advisors, it is time for you to figure out what you are going to do. Your VP said you would be tested in the first 6 months, and even though you have been tested domestically, this is your first real test on foreign affairs and definitely the first test on military matters.
Back in April the Administration announced a strategy for Afghanistan. Nobody really knew what that meant except it was going to focus on giving $5 million dollars a year to Pakistan for 5 years, and was supposed to surge in civilian experts. Of course the surge of military that happened in the spring was already planned for by the previous administration. Also, the surge of civilian experts never happened.
A few months later we see the General that had been in charge get fired and forced to retire because he was not the right man for the job. We then see GEN McChrystal and Rodriguez get put into place as the â€œbest guys for the jobâ€.
As soon as he was put into place, McChrystal was ordered to do a comprehensive 60 day review to define what is needed to succeed in Afghanistan. That review was sent to CENTCOM and the Pentagon on August 30th. Today is Sept 30th and now we are hearing a meeting will happen today with the President, VP, SecState, CJCS ADM Mullen, CENTCOM CDR GEN Petreaus, and of course GEN McChrystal via secure video. According to GEN McChrystal in an interview over the weekend, he had only talked with the President once since taking over Afghanistan. ONCE? The President has talked with Leno, Letterman, and countless other talk show and TV hosts once, if not more than once.
I donâ€™t understand what the problem is. We have the NATO chief calling for a surge.
Stepping into an intensifying debate, the new head of NATO said Monday that more allied troops are needed in Afghanistan to help train the country’s security forces.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took over Aug. 1, said he agreed with an assessment in August by Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, who emphasized the need to secure Afghan cities.
"We have to do more now, if we want to do less later," Rasmussen said during a speech in Washington.
We have GEN Petraeus, who is considered the architect of the turn-around and winning in Iraq, backing GEN McChrystal.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, says he endorses Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy in Afghanistan.
The Afghan assessment is contained in a confidential report prepared by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. The thrust of McChrystal’s assessment is that without more troops by next year the eight-year-old conflict could result in failure.
Speaking at a conference of military and civilian counterinsurgency experts, Petraeus said the current multi-dimensional approach is the only way to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, the Voice of America reported. He said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also has endorsed McChrystal’s assessment, the report said.
And of course we have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen backing GEN McChrystal.
More American troops are likely to be needed to win the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. military officer told skeptical Democrats on Tuesday, citing a need to demonstrate U.S. resolve in an increasingly unpopular war.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a proper effort to counter the Taliban insurgency "probably means more forces."
And last but not least we have the words from GEN McChrystal himself. The man who was put into place by this administration to steer the war in Afghanistan to a success. The man was put there to replace GEN McKiernan who apparently was doing things wrong, according to this administration.
The situation in Afghanistan is serious and growing worse and without more boots on the ground the United States risks failure in a war it’s been waging since shortly after the terror attacks of September 2001, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says in a confidential report.
"Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it," McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by President Barack Obama.
"Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating," McChrystal said of the war’s progress.
While asserting that more troops are needed, McChrystal also pointed out an "urgent need" to significantly revise strategy. The U.S. needs to interact better with the Afghan people, McChrystal said, and better organize its efforts with NATO allies.
"We run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves," he wrote.
In his blunt assessment of the tenacious Taliban insurgency, McChrystal warned that unless the U.S. and its allies gain the initiative and reverse the momentum of the militants within the next year the U.S. "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible"
But of course, what do those 4-star Generals and Admirals know? They could not possibly know what it takes to win a war. This is why we have such profound and experienced-laden individuals like the SecState telling the President what needs to be done.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back against the US military’s blunt warning that the battle against insurgents in Afghanistan would likely be lost within a year without more US troops.
Clinton’s comments in an interview with PBS television late Monday came amid reports that the Pentagon has asked General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, to delay a request for more troops.
In the interview, Clinton expressed "respect" for McChrystal’s assessment that the United States would likely lose the war in Afghanistan within a year without more US forces.
"But I can only tell you there are other assessments from very expert military analysts who have worked in counter-insurgencies that are the exact opposite," she said.
And of course we canâ€™t forget the Vice President, who is sooooo smart in foreign policy that he wanted to break Iraq up into a three state nation based on ethnic lines. Like that is not a recipe for a civil war disaster. Anyway, the VP wants to invoke the Bill Clinton way of dealing with bad guys, just throw some bombs at them and it will all go away. What an idiot to think such a thing.
The vice president’s plan: Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border – the real threat to U.S. national security — using special forces and Predator missile attacks.
Biden, with a son serving in the military and years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also brings one memory to the table that the 48-year-old Obama does not. At 66, Biden has a visceral feel for the American casualties in Vietnam.
But the reality is that the American people and the military leadership of this country want a decision made. They want it to be the right decision and they want it now.
Critics are lambasting President Obama for hitting the pause button on the war in Afghanistan, making U.S. commanders seeking thousands more troops there wait for a decision as he tries to get the "strategy right first."
"The commander in chief is the commander in chief, period," said retired Army Lt. Col. James Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "You can’t fight a war from Washington D.C. There’s only one way this works: You have trust and confidence in the leaders on the ground, or you don’t."
Some critics are going so far as to ask whether Obama is more concerned with finding a political strategy to ensure his re-election than he is in finding a military strategy to win the eight-year war.
That question has been raised after Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top general in Afghanistan, revealed Sunday that he has spoken to the president only once since he took command in May.
"It is nutty," said Bing West, a former Marine and defense official in the Reagan administration. "Obama is stuck with his war of necessity yet he can’t bring himself to face the fact he doesn’t even know his commander in the field!"
It will take time to build up the infrastructure to handle 10,000 more troops, much less 40,000 more. It takes time to move that many troops and start the wheels in motion. But we need to stay on the offensive and not give the enemy a chance to reorganize or plan their next move. We need them on their heels. We also donâ€™t need them to take advantage of this in-decisiveness via their own I/O and media campaign.
Strike while the iron is hot, listen to the experts and the â€œbest man for the jobâ€. Not to the bloviating Hillary Clinton who is a shell of a Secretary of State, only having that job to keep her from running again in 2012. Or to the VP that was picked solely for insurance and to give some experience to the ticket, but has proved to be more of a liability than an asset via his mouth. Wasting time being on Leno, Letterman, the Sunday talk show circuit or even worse wasting money and time flying to Denmark to wine and dine the Olympic committee in order to get the Olympics and millions of dollars into the most corrupt city in this country is not proper time and task management.
When the forces surged in the spring I was for it as long as they were allowed to do their job. As long as their presence their was not wasted. I wanted them to go in and get the job done and not just be IED fodder.
There are only two outcomes to a war, WIN or LOSE, VICTORY or DEFEAT. So now it is time to decide. This is a tough decision for the President, that I understand. But it is also a fairly simple one. Do you want the all the lives lost and ruined after eight years of war to be in vain? Do you want to give the enemy a huge I/O victory by allowing them to say they beat us like the Russians? Do you want to give up all we have gained and provided the people of Afghanistan? Turn your back on them now and you might as well be signing the death warrant of not only thousands of Afghans, but more than likely hundreds if not thousands of Europeans or Americans at some point in the future.
â€œWhen in Command, COMMAND!â€ Those were the words of Admiral Nimitz during the battle of Midway in WWII. There are a lot of things going on today with Afghanistan and I need to catch up. But the bottom line is this, last week CJCS ADM Mullen started laying the groundwork because he read the report from Gen McChrystal.
Today the Washington Post released an almost complete copy of the assessment report from Gen. McChrystal to SecDef Gates. I said over a month ago that rumors were coming out that McChrystal would ask for upwards of 40,000 more troops. Now it appears those rumors were true and in the report McChrystal makes it clear that his opinion is that more troops are needed or the mission in Afghanistan will fail.
According to the Taiwan News Online via the Associated Press and their sources, the President has 5 criteria for measuring GEN McChrystalâ€™s assessment of Afghanistan and any request for additional Troops.
The senior White House official, speaking anonymously to detail Obama’s thinking, said the concern about how Afghans, Americans and NATO allies would view a troop increase was part of five broad measurements the president was applying to the assessment and an expected request for more troops. The other concerns, the official said, are:
_How force size changes might be countered by al-Qaida propaganda and tactics.
_What impact any change would have on neighboring and nuclear-armed Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leadership, including Osama bin Laden, are believed hiding along the rugged, mountainous border.
_The effect on the "health" of U.S. forces, already strained from repeated deployments in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
_How more forces effectively would propel Obama’s goal of denying al-Qaida and its Taliban allies havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I am glad to see our military leadership do it the right way rather than the way the Presidential Administration does things. The current administration seems to like the approach of talking and making decisions before knowing all the facts (shutting down Gitmo, not keeping terrorists in prison forever, pulling out of Iraq within one year). All of those examples are ones that were said by the President during campaign time and then changed once he got in office.
I know, this blog entry is starting to sound like it should be on www.militarypundits.com and not here, but the point I am trying to make is that the SecDef and GEN McChrystal are at least taking their time to get the Afghanistan War review right the first time. Rather than putting out bad info and having to go back and re-work it again.
Here is the bottom line, the administration fired GEN McKiernan and replaced him with GEN McChrystal after only 11 months on the job. They said McChrystal was the right man and the smartest man for the job (I think he is probably one of the best our country has right now also). So whatever GEN McChrystal asks for, he has to get. HAS TO!!
I mean how can he not get it. If the guy says he wants to replace all the MRAPs with pink and purple VW bugs then the administration has to give it to him. Of course that is sarcasm. But if he does ask for the 4-6 additional brigades (20,000 troops on top of what is there now) as is rumored, then the administration has no choice but give it to him. How can they put a guy in there who is the best one for the job and then second guess him? They will get chewed up in the press and in the election booth if they try.
So I am not sure why the report is delayed. Maybe the SecDef wants the General to re-check numbers or sharpen his pencil. Maybe the SecDef wants a different direction. Who knows, but the bottom line is that whatever comes out in that report will be the way our country takes this war. There is nobody in the service of this Federal Government that is qualified to second guess Gen McChrystal, the man put into place by the President himself.
The Bouhammer [boo-ham-er] blog is owned by a 22-year Retired Army First Sergeant. It is now one of the leading and award-winning blogs written primarily on operations in Afghanistan and other military related topics. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy what you see. If you care about what is happening in the land where the attacks of 9/11 were planned and if you care about our military, this is the blog for you. Click Here to Contact Bouhammer
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