The U.S. Navy SEALs operation that killed the man responsible for the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001 lasted 38 minutes, from boots-on-the-ground to wheels-up. The SEALs work in Pakistan against Bin-Laden was the culmination to 10 years of active hunting, and a total of 15 years of open aggression. In the operation’s aftermath, there have been conflicting reports about what actually occurred inside the terrorist’s compound when Navy Seal Team 6 arrived, what they did while they were there, and why the strike lasted 38 minutes. The exact answer may never be known, but we can assume certain things . . .

Before the op, U.S. Special Forces created a full-scale replica of the Bin-laden compound. No doubt, intelligence gurus plotted paper (computer) battles until their eyes bled. The men destined to be on the sharp end put these plans to the test with real-life dry runs—dozens and dozens of times. Complete with helicopters and soldiers playing the part of the bad guys.

The SEALs team was probably divided into three major parts: the attack unit, the search unit and the unit in charge of securing the perimeter/extracting the good guys.

They would have co-ordinated their efforts and timed the drills to the second. In no way, shape or form would the operation be “opened ended.” The team would work to a pre-determined series of way-points. If, for example, the target somehow escaped or managed to evade capture within the compound, the SEAL search team would only have a limited amount of time to achieve their objective. Speaking of which . . .

While we’re led to believe that Bin Laden was shot-on-the-spot, the SEAL attack team would have practiced extracting Bin-Laden from his lair. The final decision whether to capture or kill the terrorist rested with the President of the United States. Chances are the option was left open, and the SEALs in the dark, until just before the operation began.

The SEALs used special stealth helicopters. In the speed, stealth and violence of action equation, the second part was the first to go. As soon as they touched down, the SEALs used flash bangs, grenades and suppressing fire. They created as much chaos—for the enemy—as possible. With the benefit of local knowledge gained in the mock-up, they ran into Bin-Laden’s compound and cleared the structure in designated teams.

Reports that the SEALs waged a fierce firefight with defenders are nonsense. Special Ops are not Army infantry. They figure out how to get the job done and they do it at lightning speed. As the SEALs planned and practiced this high profile op in meticulous detail for weeks on end, Bin-Laden and his defenders didn’t stand a chance. Period.

This part of the program would have taken anywhere from five to ten minutes, maximum.

Even before Bin-Laden met his maker, members of the SEALs team were looking for and gathering sensitive material: papers, computer hard-drives, perhaps objects with DNA samples (e.g., brushes), etc. The search effort wasn’t so much of a Plan B as a con-committent Plan A.

Once Bin-Laden was dead, the SEALs had to prevent any survivors from retaliating, triggering hidden explosive devices or interfering with their search efforts. That’s a far more time-intensive goal than killing people. Figure another ten minutes to get the situation fully under control.

Part of the SEALs team had to prepare Bin-Laden’s body for removal. Osama was a big man; slipping him into a body bag and getting him over to and into a chopper would have taken at least five minutes, as well. Perhaps the same five minutes, depending on the number of SEALs involved.

So we’re at twenty-minutes now. Ten for the attack, ten to secure the compound. That leaves 18 minutes. Time to leave. Given the distances involved—a good 100 yards of running and three flights of stairs, getting all ashore that’s going ashore (including an oversized and brain dead self-agrandized egomaniac) would take ten minutes, anyway.

That leaves eight minutes here and there for searching, Time that may have been eaten up in some of the aforementioned activities. Bottom line: no one was milling around in Pakistan. With apologies to the ATF, the SEALs’ operation was fast and furious.

To the men running the Op, it seemed like the blink of an eye and an eternity all at once. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no time at all. Apparently, the operation was expected to take no more than 30 minutes. Close enough.

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32 Responses to Timeline of a SEALs Op: Why The Bin-Laden Take Down Took So Long

  1. I don’t think there is a single nonterrorist human being on the planet that’s not impressed and delighted.

    I’d bet there’s even a few in Al Qaeda that are a bit impressed in an ‘oh sh..’ kind of way.

    • Impressed, yes. Delighted…you should mosey on over to my FB wall (captaindigital) and take a look at the multiple discussions I have going with some liberal friends of mine. To hear them tell it, what we did was ‘murder,’ and we turned Bin Laden in to a martyr. No mention from them of what a nightmare a trial would be, or how it would have given that monster a bully platform for propaganda. Which just goes to show you, you can lead a wingnut to logic, but you cannot make them think. If they won’t acknowledge that Bin Laden was worthy of this, you gotta realize no criminal is worthy of it. Sad.

    • I’m not really impressed. Not at all, actually. And anybody that takes delight in the death (murder?) of another human being, no matter how despicable that person may or may not be, is a sociopath, plain and simple.

      Really, without any proof to offer, all this entire episode is is a pro-state fairy tale. The boogeyman is dead. Take our word for it. We promise. Would we lie to you? Come on, of course we wouldn’t, we’re the government.

      All hail government! Government killed the boogeyman!

      Instead of eagerly swallowing the official narrative, why not think critically for a moment? I know it takes mental energy and everything, but it’s entirely worth the expense. Rest assured, you can always guzzle a few more lite beers to kill the extra couple brain cells this exercise is sure to generate:

      1. OBL hides in plain sight, lying on his death bed, in a room in a house, a scant four minute walk from a Pakistani military academy, for five years.

      2. According to official narrative, costumed enforcers storm “compound”, kill most everyone there, and take the corpse once known as OBL.

      3. Body is promptly “buried at sea”, supposedly to show respect to Muslim religious tradition. (Never mind that even Saddam’s, Uday’s and Qusay’s – the number two, three, and four boogeymen, respectively – corpses were handed over to their families so they could be buried by their families on ancestral lands, the real Muslim tradition.)

      4. Government issues a statement that OBL has been killed. No proof is given. He’s been charged with no crime (he is/was on the FBI most wanted list, but not for his supposed “masterminding” of 9/11); there may or may not be evidence against him, but the public will never be allowed to know (National Security LoL). He never had a trial of any kind where the evidence against him that may or may not exist was presented, and was summarily executed for a crime he’s never even been charged with.

      I know all you armchair warriors want to eat this shit up. I know the high-school-football mentality you never outgrew makes you.
      “Seal team six!”
      We did it!”
      “We’re number one!”
      “USA! USA! USA!”

      Funny about the timing of the whole thing, too, is how “Al Qaeda” is said to be plotting revenge in the form of terrorist attacks on so-called “soft targets” – shopping malls, sports stadiums, train stations, and the like. With the public backlash against the TSA sexual assaults at airports around the country last fall and winter, there was no way people would go for stop-and-frisk and pat downs at public places like malls and movie theaters. But now, some people are all but begging for just that. And the government gets to go ahead with the plan they wanted to implement all along.

      How can you not see you’re being played by the government you so readily and heartily cheer?

        • Well, of course you do. After all, you’re Cujo – the Dog of War!*

          *Never actually enlisted in the service; never actually seen combat; but do play a lot of Multiplayer CoD.

        • USMC Armor Crewman, USN SpecOps force, US ARMY 7th Special Forces Group-18 Bravo. Try again there Homey. I lost a testicle during my service time and have PTSD,moderate, for a reason. I wanted to be able to say I wasn’t some fucking hippie leftist when I get old. Check to make sure you’re not talking shit to a decorated veteran before you open your yeast hole about not serving in the military.

      • His death was the results of his actions. He waged war and died as a consequence of that war.

        Unless of course it was the government that actually blew up the World Trade Center and faked the Moon Landing.

        Grow up James.

        • Why was he never officially charged with the WTC attacks? Why does the FBIs Most Wanted list not include that in his list of crimes?

          Who said anything about moon landings?

          You grow up. And make sure your “brain” comes along for the ride.

        • “Why was he never officially charged with the WTC attacks?”

          Maybe because it was an act of war, not a crime per se?

  2. Allegedly, a person of interest was detained and extracted with the Team.

    This is the first I’m hearing of that.

    • Without evidence and without a trial where that evidence gets presented, all we have is the government’s word on that.

      For an “arbiter of justice,” seems to me you need to look up the true meaning of the word.

  3. You seem to be forgetting that OBL and crew claimed responsibility for the 9-11 attacks, then you got to see all his little buddies dancing in the street afterwards.

    That isn’t enough proof for you? Nevermind all the other terrorist attacks he and his homies claimed responsibility for.

    Osama dead= Good thing

    • No. No he did not claim responsibility. Never. Not once. Define: “and crew”.

      What he did do is say that Allah’s will had been fulfilled and that the people who did it will enjoy their place in heaven with their 72 virgins or whatever.

      “Proof enough” for me is actual proof. You know, evidence?

      “Everybody knows,” is not proof. All “everybody knows” is what Channel X news has been feeding them for the last ten years.

      You people will decry the government and a compliant, uncritical news media using erroneous and misleading reporting, uncited and undocumented facts when it comes to gun control, but in this case it’s OK?

      Yeah. We did it! We got him! We won the homecoming game against the Wildcats!

      • Why so bitter? Did your boyfriend cut you off? I have the answer to your military service query above. Pull your head out and read it.

        • Waiting,james, you crossed the line…not often I’m flamed on pissed-let’s party, verbally! I back down from NO fight-verbal, hand, knives,stick or gun!

        • Yawn.

          Yeah, big deal. You were in the service. Lost a nut, but still “manly” enough to throw around accusations of homosexuality to back up invalid arguments.

  4. This back and forth is giving me a headache. Here’s what I KNOW. Usama Bin Laden was an enemy. Now he’s a dead enemy. The US says he’s dead, his daughter says he’s dead, Al Qaeda says he’s dead, so I think he’s freakin’ DEAD. I’m happy about it, too. If I’d been alive at the time, I would have been happy when Hitler died and when Mussolini was strung up by his heels. I was happy when Stalin croaked. I was happy when Ted Bundy got what was coming to him. The world is still a screwed-up place, and the conflict continues, but I’m seriously pleased that there’s one less scumbag wasting good oxygen.

  5. No invalid arguments, james, just correcting your personal slander against me. Learn the difference between a disagreement and when you’ve just plain been acting like an ass-it may save you some grief and pain in the real world. As for disparaging your manhood, I’d say you bought that train ticket when you cast me as a Nintendo Commando. Now that you found you were wrong, you’ve hit the bong for inspiration again, done your nails and tell me ‘big deal’. What’s wrong, was lil’ jamesy too afraid to risk his ass under fire? You just did a sweeping discounting of all veterans brave enough to protect you as you slept in momma’s basement and bitched about the government’s mistreatment of you at Hot Topic. Turn off the porn, put down the shop vac and consider acting like a man one of these days. I’m going to sleep now with a real woman who doesn’t require inflation.

    • Slander, hate speech, and homophobia are not valid arguments.* It’s very telling that everything you say includes a reference to sex. FLAME DELETED

      *Original, 400+ word reply summarily deleted by someone other than myself.
      It’s very interesting to note that TTAG allows some personal insults to stand, while others clearly cross a line.

      Good job on the censorship, TTAG. Class act, that.

      • Ok, Scooter-what’s your extensive background? Has your only foray into harm’s way been camping out for concert tickets? You whine but offer no alternative. You treat others with disdain but blow it off when proven wrong. There are doers in this world and incidental critics who remain in the shadows to complain and do nothing of consequence in their wasted, cowardly lives. It’s blatantly obvious which you are. You began with your “armchair warrior” claim against others-so tell me, what HAVE YOU DONE to justify your superior position? That is your attitude, so put up or shut up-impress us with your extensive resume. Don’t fabricate-you will be asked qualifying questions to prove your claims. Don’t wait 24 hours to make up lies either. If you have “done it” you would be able to list your “background” off the top of your head.

  6. I’m glad OBL is dead, and I’m glad to see some enthusiastic articles about it. But this article is 100% speculation.

    I have a close friend who was an Army Ranger for many years, and while he’ll be the first to admit that Rangers are not SEALs, they perform many of the same functions, including helicopter-borne smash-and-grab raids to capture or kill high-value targets.

    The usual procedure for Afghanistan was to covertly deploy at night by helicopter, in a wide perimeter around the target, setting up fire support from at least two directions on the target, and against likely avenues of enemy approach. Then the assault teams would go in. In Pakistan, a “friendly” country, we had undercover assets on the ground to create a perimeter for the helos dropping in.

    The actual raid takes less than five minutes. They don’t open the doors, the danger of booby traps is too great. They use small shaped explosives to cut the bolt and hinges of the door, or, whenever possible, just blow a hole in the wall. Entering the building from two or three unexpected locations, even a prepared enemy just can’t react quickly enough.

    After all the active threats are taken care of, the surrendered are gathered and secured, and they start searching – but very carefully, always looking for traps. Its not slow, just deliberate. Look, look again with a flashlight, then probe with a small knife, then start picking things up or opening drawers.

    I’m not sure how those 38 minutes are counted, but if that was the amount of time SEALs spent in the compound, that is a unusually long time. They had a prioritized checklist of things to do, and they simply worked through that list, until they were finished, or received a call from the perimeter that time was up. The OBL mission, understandably, probably had a longer list of things to do than most missions, so they took longer. They also had the additional task of rendering secure their helo crash.

  7. I’m thinking the extra time was chewed-up by a hot round of “Ro! Cham! Beau!” for the trigger rights once they found out who the target really was.
    I also read the war dog that went in w/ them gets bad zips from game time jitters. No amount of Super Target shopping bags stuffed in your back pocket will take that up.

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