Operation Neptune Spear (2011)

Operation Neptune Spear (2011)
This photograph shows the U.S. national security team with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (left) gathered in the White House Situation Room to monitor the progress of Operation Neptune Spear.

Operation Neptune Spear, 2011, was a precision strike operation executed by the United States Navy Seals in which the long sought-after Osama Bin Laden was eliminated under cover of darkness in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

On receiving Intel about Bin Laden’s presence in the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan, Vice Admiral William McRaven, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) handpicked a team to start extensive planning at the CIA Campus, Langley, Virginia, for a raid on the compound.

In April, 2011, a group of members of the highly specialized Seal Team Six just then returning from Afghanistan, were asked to report at North Carolina for a training exercise. The Seals trained by simulating the soon-to-be-conducted raid on Bin Laden’s compound. A full size replica of the compound was used to conduct mock runs of the mission.

Late April, 2011, Seal Team Six members left for Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and were on stand-by awaiting further orders. After months of speculation over the raid owing to uncertainties in the identity of the suspect within the compound, Obama finally gave the green light to execute the raid on April 29, 2011.

In the early hours of May 1, 25 U.S Navy Seals and one Belgian Malinois military dog lifted off on two U.S BlackHawk Stealth helicopters from a forwarding air base at Jalalabad, Afghanistan to raid the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan. The helicopters codename Chalk1 and Chalk 2 flew under cover of darkness and at stealth altitude to avoid Pakistan’s radar systems.

Once the BlackHawks arrived at Abbottabad, one team of Seals was airdropped inside the compound to conduct the raid from ground up. The second team took position outside the compound to secure the perimeter and keep an eye on a nearby Pakistani military training facility. Seals work their way up and reach Bin Laden’s room where the target is taken out with two fatal gunshots. In only a 40-minute raid, Bin Laden, three male associates, and a woman who was used as a human shield were killed. The Seals quickly scrubbed the compound for intel and left the scene with Bin Laden’s lifeless body in hand.

Bin Laden’s body was flown from Bagram Base in Afghanistan to the USS Carl Vinson aboard an Osprey and escorted by two F-18 jets. The morning of May 2, after carrying out Islamic traditions, the body was buried at sea (somewhere in the Arabian Sea) since no nation would claim the body of the slain Al-Qaeda leader.