Scheduled to be released on December 19, 2012 is the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”, a film recounting DEVGRUs Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden was initially located after US intelligence officials tracked one of his couriers. After the Pakistan compound was located, President Obama met with national security advisers to formulate a plan of action. During the next six weeks, President Obama and the advisors met four times – one visit involved Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command.
Initially, a news source released details of a rejected plan to release (up to) 32 2,000 lb. bombs on the compound using B-2 Stealth bombers. President Obama however felt a raid would provide the proof needed to know definitively that bin Laden was located. A raid also would minimize civilian casualties.
Training for the Mission
Training for DEVGRU began following the March 22nd national security meeting. Training facilities resembling the compound were set up on both coasts. In April, the plans progressed and the teams began specific training using various tactical approaches on a replica of the “Waziristan Mansion” compound. Some news sources reported DEVGRU made two initial practice runs – one on April 7th and one on April 13th.
John Brennon, a White House counter-terrorism advisor, identified the initial point of the mission was to capture bin Laden if he posed no threat. An unnamed US national security official, however, informed Reuters that the operation was, in fact, a kill mission.
After a 24-hour delay due to cloudy conditions, the President Barack Obama gave the order to proceed with the mission on May 1, 2011 to kill or capture bin Laden. The raid ensued using 20-25 helicopters carrying DEVGRU members – 79 commandos and one dog. Multiple backup helicopters – including two Black Hawks and two Chinooks and a number of search-and-rescue helicopters – were available for backup.
On May 1, 2011, the DEVGRU team used explosives to breach the walls of the compound and proceeded to attack its structures. Despite receiving open fire, the SEALs were able to neutralize the guards and then proceeded in clearing various structures throughout the compound. Couriers on the first floor were killed and additional personnel and women and children encountered on the second and third floors were captured and secured in place with zip ties. Once the raid was over, they were moved outside.
The team located and confronted bin Laden on the third floor. Bin Laden resisted leaving the DEVGRU team no choice but to shoot. As a result, the SEAL Team 6 mission – Operation Neptune Spear – ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.