Quick diary, felt this comment of mine in one thread merited it. Now With Links!
The original 'spec ops insertion' plan from the Brass was to send just two StealthHawk choppers. Two teams of SEALs armed with light weapons. Likely their heaviest weapons were suppressed HK-416 assault rifles, maybe an M240 machine gun and rifle-slung M203 grenade launcher for perimeter security. In, out, totally ninja.
Obama rejected this plan, saying he wanted the SEALs to have enough back-up and firepower to fight their way out of the country if need be.
Obama nixed the idea of commandos hunkering down to await diplomatic rescue. He worried that the Navy SEALs conducting the mission could end up as hostages of the Pakistanis, and he told McRaven to ensure that the U.S. forces could escape the compound and return to safety, whether or not they encountered Pakistani resistance.So added to the mission were two MH-47 Chinooks with SEALs likely armed with heavier weapons such as M240 machine guns, SCAR-H battle rifles, XM25 Grenade launchers, LAW rockets. The choppers themselves most likely armed with Mark 19 automatic grenade launchers and Gatling guns. They infiltrated the country and stayed in a staging area a few minutes away from the target compound.
“Don’t worry about keeping things calm with Pakistan,” Obama said to McRaven. “Worry about getting out.”
McRaven added additional forces; a second group of SEALs would be prepared to take on any Pakistani forces that might try to intervene.
The pace of the meetings in the White House—still involving merely a few aides—and at the CIA and JSOC picked up.
We all know what happened. One of the Stealth Hawks crashes in the compound yard (lives of the team saved by a brilliant last-second maneuver by the pilot, whom Obama singled out for a hug when he met them at Fort Campbell.) The assault continues successfully, but there's no way all the team members plus OBL's body plus the intelligence are getting home on one helicopter.
One of the Chinooks is called in, and everyone comes home. Without these two choppers ready for support, it would have extended the time on the ground by 25-40 minutes waiting for choppers from Afghanistan. Even if they'd managed to get out without alerting Pakistani ground forces...they'd have still been in the air in Pakistani airspace at the time the first Pakistani F-16s were scrambled to reports of unidentified helicopters, explosions, and gunfire in Abottobad.
Obama's insistence on back-up saved the lives of everyone involved, mitigated the risk of a war with Pakistan, and brought back the intelligence cache used to decimate Al Qaeda's senior leadership in the months since.
If Obama had been a rubber-stamp 'defer to the generals' C-in-C as Republicans constantly insist he should be, the mission could have unraveled into disaster. With US soldiers caught in a direct confrontation with the Pakistani Army.
Again the question becomes...would a President Romney have made the same decisions that lead to May 1, 2011 being such a tremendous victory for America?
Would he have made the hunt for Bin Laden the #1 national security priority? (He had said no.)
Would he have sent back to Afghanistan the special operations personnel and intelligence resources to bolster the hunt? (he wanted to keep 30,000 troops in Iraq)
Would he have taken the risk to target the Abottobad compound, even though there was only circumstantial evidence Bin Laden was there? (he attacked Obama for suggesting we reserve the right to target Al Qaeda inside Pakistan.)
Would he have refrained from sharing our intelligence with Pakistan (he has said keeping up our relationship with Islamabad was more important than killing terrorists.)
Would he have gone with the special operations option, instead of an airstrike? (he's risk-averse and his national security team is loaded with the same sort of neocons that favored airstrikes over troops at Tora Bora.)
And would he have overruled the initial 'two-helicopters' plan that had it been used would have risked the possibility of another Black Hawk Down incident in the heart of a nuclear-armed country? (As noted earlier He has said Presidents should 'defer to the generals on such decisions.)
The grit, skill, and determination of our armed forces and intelligence personnel is what made that night so tremendously possible. But these brave men and women still need a commander-in-chief who will give them the proper mission and the proper tools for that to happen. Thanks to a series of bold decisions made by President Barack Obama, those heroes had the best chances for success.
11:18 AM PT: Rec List! Thanks folks. Personally loving the opportunity the GOP has given us to talk again about how Osama Bin Laden is still dead.
1:56 PM PT: To be clear, I don't intend this diary as a slight against the military commanders who planned the mission. Far from it. I mean to say that the military performs best when it has a leader who will LEAD...not defer to them on every decision.
The mission was the result of a truly healthy relationship between the President and the military leadership. Not one where the C-in-C delegates all decisions (and therefore fault in the event of failure) to the generals, who by the nature of their work don't have the full geopolitical picture.
Obama laid out what the mission had to do (get in, get him, get the intel, get out) and the military came up with the right plan to do it. And when that plan hit a snag, the operators carrying out the mission adapted and used the resources put at their disposal to complete every objective.
Everybody performed to the best of their ability that night. From the boots on the ground to the commander in chief and everyone in between. It was an American achievement.