May 03, 2011

Bin Laden Death A Victory For Special Ops

For the elite troops who have hunted Osama bin Laden since 9/11, the daring attack by a team of Navy SEALs that ended his life was the Holy Grail of special operations missions.

"Within hours of the announcement, I had dozens of phone calls and text messages from fellow SEALs celebrating this victory," says Eric Greitens, a SEAL and lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve.

"Every SEAL that I know would have wanted to have taken part in that operation," says Greitens, author of the book The Heart and the Fist.

Kyle Lamb, a retired sergeant major with the Army's elite Delta Force, which carries out similar missions, says it was the one mission any special operations member dreams about.

"I mean they've trained for it. They've thought about it. They've lived it since 9/11," he says.

"You go through the ranks for all these years chasing bad guys and then you're there when the ultimate part of history is made. That would be awesome," says Lamb, who today owns Viking Tactics, a Fayetteville, N.C., company that offers training in leadership, tactics and firearms.

"Obviously, I wish it was Army guys," Lamb adds with a chuckle. "But good for them (the SEALs)."

In the hours after a team of Navy SEALs overran the compound north of Islamabad where bin Laden was hiding, word of the raid spread like wildfire through the 68,000-member special operations community including Navy SEAL teams and Army Delta Force commandos, Green Berets and Rangers.

"It was very personal to go into his house and kill him where he slept," Lamb says. "That means more to me than dropping bombs on him.We want these guys to be scared that at any moment, they're wondering if a bomb is going to drop on them or the doors are going to blow off the hinges and guys come in and do what they do."

"Obviously, the SEAL community takes a lot of pride in what happened," Greitens says.

"For a lot of the men in this community who are undertaking operations day after day, month after month that the public never hears about, this was an operation that could be celebrated by all Americans. So I think that makes it special," he says.

And the SEAL who fired the bullet that killed bin Laden?

"He will be revered for the rest of his life as the guy who, at the most important moment, took one of the most important shots in the history of the global war on terrorism," Greitens says.

John Nagl, a retired Army officer and expert on counterinsurgency, said "those SEALs will never have to buy another beer for the rest of their lives."