New York: US commandos, who killed Osama
bin Laden in a covert operation on May 2 in Pakistan, had been
practising along with a Belgian Malinois dog for the D-Day for
nearly a month with a replica of the al-Qaeda leader`s
A team of two dozen navy SEALs from Red Squadron were
asked to report to a densely forested site in North Carolina
for a training exercise on April 10.
Red Squadron is one of four squadrons in DEVGRU (Naval
Special Warfare Development Group), which has about 300
None of the SEALs, barring two, were aware of the CIA
intelligence on bin Laden`s compound till a particular date.
A replica of the compound had been built at the site,
with walls and chain-link fencing marking the layout of the
compound. The team spent the next five days practising
maneuvers, the New Yorker magazine said in its latest issue
bringing into light new aspects of the entire operation, which
was codenamed Operation Neptune`s Spear.
"On April 18th, the DEVGRU squad flew to Nevada for
another week of rehearsals. The practice site was a large
government-owned stretch of desert with an elevation
equivalent to the area surrounding Abbottabad.
"An extant building served as bin Laden`s house.
Aircrews plotted out a path that paralleled the flight from
Jalalabad to Abbottabad. Each night after sundown, drills
commenced," the report said.
Twelve SEALs boarded `Helo one` chopper. Eleven SEALs,
interpreter Ahmed (name changed) and Cairo, the dog, boarded
`Helo two`. The pilots flew in the dark, arrived at the
simulated compound and settled into a hover while the SEALs
The report said not everyone on the team was
accustomed to helicopter assaults. Ahmed had been pulled from
a desk job for the mission and had never descended a fast
rope. He quickly learnt the technique.
The assault plan was now honed. Helo one was to hover
over the yard, drop two fast ropes and let all 12 SEALs slide
down into the yard. Helo two would fly to the northeast corner
of the compound and let out Ahmed, Cairo and four SEALs, who
would monitor the perimeter of the building.
The copter would then hover over the house, and the
remaining seven SEALs would shimmy down to the roof. As long
as everything was cordial, Ahmed would hold curious
neighbours at bay. The SEALs and the dog could assist more
aggressively, if needed.
Then, if bin Laden was proving difficult to find,
Cairo could be sent into the house to search for false walls
or hidden doors. "This wasn`t a hard op," an unnamed
special-operations officer was quoted as saying. "It would be
like hitting a target in McLean" ? the upscale Virginia suburb
However, the operation did not go as planned because
one helicopter had crashed just outside the compound. Instead
of scaling down on the roof of the house, the commandos had to
bomb their way into the premises.