Monday, May 09, 2011

Thanking Those Who Risked Their Lives to Protect Ours - Behind the Scenes at Abbottabad, Pakistan

This past Friday, President Obama traveled to Fort Campbell in Kentucky to thank many of the troops who executed the daring raid on Osama Bin Laden's lair. While Friday's event was quite public and well reported, it follows on the heels of several more subdued ceremonies to thank others who were responsible for the planning and execution of the top secret operation. Earlier last week, in a quiet ceremony in San Diego, members of the special forces team (reportedly including members of legendary SEAL Team Six) were quietly thanked and recognized. On Thursday, the President welcomed to the Oval Office the mastermind behind the operation

According to the Blog,, the recent incursion into Pakistan to take out Osama Bin Laden was masterminded by Vice Admiral William H. McRaven.

"President Obama has personally thanked the man who hatched the daring raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. So who is Vice Admiral William H McRaven?

When CIA chief Leon Panetta got the presidential go-ahead for the top-secret assault on Bin Laden's compound, he turned to one man.

"My instructions to Admiral McRaven were 'Admiral, go in and get Bin Laden. And if he's not there, get the hell out,'" said Mr Panetta, according to reports.

Operational control was in the hands of Vice Admiral William H McRaven, head of the Joint Special Operations Command, stationed in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, President Obama invited the highly decorated, three-star admiral to the Oval Office to pass on his thanks for masterminding such a successful mission.

Some of the forces who executed Vice Adm McRaven's instructions are due to get their turn with the president at Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Friday.

Among those shaking Mr Obama's hands could be US Navy Seals, the special forces who infiltrated a housing compound where they found Bin Laden on the second floor. After killing him, they raided the house for valuable data, some of which has already shed light on other alleged plots.

Little is known about the personal life of the 55-year-old Vice Adm McRaven, who rarely steps into the spotlight.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, he attended Roosevelt High School. A track scholarship took him to the University of Texas."

My good friend, retired Army LT. COL. Donald "Chip" Allgrove, a West Point graduate, has offered an inside perspective on the quiet leader who was in charge of the troops who carried the raid on Bin Laden's hideout near Abbottabad, Pakistan. They were classmates at the Naval Postgraduate School:

"AP just reported that [Admiral McRaven] was the one speaking directly with the National Security Team at the White House during the raid.
Bill developed our graduate degree curriculum at Naval Postgraduate School (92 Credit Hours, Comprehensive Exams for our "basic courses," PLUS a Masters Thesis). We had everything from International Law, International Economics, Political Science, History, Psychology, Conflict Resolution and Management Theory, International Relations and Regional Studies, and Social Scientific Research Methods. This all in 18 months. Our professors came from either Ivy League Institutions OR Stanford/UC - Berkeley.

This is so funny. Bill went through all of the courses a semester BEFORE we did (he actually went through the program using a full 2 years) so that he could write his Thesis and publish it - Case Studies of Special Operations: The Theory and Practice of Special Operations. So - he was declared the FIRST graduate of the SO/LIC Program. However - I was the Summa Cum Laude graduate of the first class.

He remains - however - number one in my eyes and in my heart!

Bill McRaven, like so many other heroes that I served with and for (Pete Schoomaker, Geoff Lambert, Tom Spellisey, et al), is one of those heroes that our kids needs to revere and emulate.


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The lesson that comes across to me is one of superior preparation. Like US Air pilot "Sully" Sullenberger, whose decades of careful training prepared him for the most trying moments of his life as he guided his crippled aircraft to a stunning landing on the Hudson River, McRaven has spent many years studying, planning and practicing - under the most outstanding of mentors and most challenging of circumstances.

Regardless of how we may feel about the "politics" behind the decision to seek out and kill Osama, we can stand united in thanking the men and women - enlisted and officers - who have invested their lives and careers in preparation for an operation like the one for which we now join the President in thanking them. Our military is not without its flaws and problems, but it is universally regarded as the best prepared, best trained and best equipped in history.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great story! Real life "24" this guy is the thinking man's Jack Bower.