HOMEPAGE

O homem que matou Osama Bin Laden
Publicado em: 12 Fev, 2013
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I was usually the guy to joke around when we were planning these things — we all dick around a lot. But I was like, “Hey guys, we have to take this fucking serious. There’s a 90 percent chance this is a one-way mission. We’re gonna die, so let’s do this right.”

The discussions went on, almost a luxury. We’re used to going on the fly, five, six nights a week on deployment. Here’s your target, we’re leaving in twenty minutes. Come up with a plan. This compound was pretty easy, though we had no clue about the inside layout.

The group reviewed contingencies: How do we handle cars? What if a helo went down? What do we do if the helo doors don’t open? Shit like that.

The first helicopter was going to land in front of the house. We were going to put our external security out and our bird was going to go back up and we’d fast-rope onto the roof. So we’d have one assault team from the other chopper coming up the stairs, and we’d be going down.

It was March 2012, a blossoming time of year in the capital of the free world. The intimate dinner party was already under way at a stylish split-level apartment one block from the Washington Hilton. The hostess was a military contractor, and there was a lobbyist there, along with another young woman, a Capitol Hill veteran.

The Shooter’s mentor was behind the kitchen counter, putting a final grill-sauce flair on some huge slabs of red meat when four men, all of them imposing and fit, came through the front door.

The Shooter is thick, like a power lifter, with an audacious set of tattoos. He can be curt and dismissive as his default, but also wickedly funny. It’s instantly easy to see why he’s considered both a rebellious, pushy pain in the ass by his command and even some of his colleagues, but also a natural leader. An outgoing, charismatic, and determined alpha male in the ultimate alpha crowd.

He and his three friends were all active ST6 members that night, though none of the others present had been on the bin Laden mission.

This was my first face-to-face meeting with the Shooter, following several phone conversations and much checking on my journalism background, especially in war zones. In a corner, pouring drinks, he and I established some rules. He would consider talking to me only after his last, upcoming four-month deployment to Afghanistan had ended and he had exited the Navy. And he would not go public; he would not be named. That would be counter to the team’s code, and it would also put a huge “kill me” target on his back.

During the dinner, he told mostly personal stories and took care not to talk in terms of operational security: the deal about the gun magazine and the CIA analyst, the experience of eyeballing bin Laden.

“Three of us were driving to our first briefing on the mission,” he said. “We were thinking maybe it was Libya, but we knew there would be very high-level brass there. One of my guys says, ‘I bet it’s bin Laden.'” Another guy told the Shooter, “If it’s Osama bin Laden, dude, I will suck yo’ dick.”

“So after I shoot UBL, I bring him over to see his body. ‘Okay,’ I told him, ‘now is as good a time as any.'”

The group talked about hairy moments during other missions, stories soldiers and foreign correspondents enjoy swapping. But from the start something was obvious, not just about the Shooter but about his fellow SEALs, too: These men who had heroically faced death and exercised extraordinary violence in almost continuous battle for years on end were fearful of life after war.

This is a problem that is becoming more critical as the “best of the best” start leaving the most extended wartime careers in the history of the United States. And it is a problem not just for these men and their families but for the American government, which has come to rely heavily on a steady stream of Tier One special operators (including the Army’s Delta Force and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron) — men of rarefied toughness and training like these — to maintain a sense of international security in an asymmetrical battlefield. The American way of war has changed radically in the past decade, so that in the future, “boots on the ground” will more and more mean special operators. Which means that there will be increasing numbers of vets in the Shooter’s circumstance: abandoned, with limited choices.

That night, one of the Shooter’s comrades, lantern-jawed, articulate, with a serious academic pedigree, told me: “I’ve seen a lot of combat, been in some pretty grisly circumstances. But the thing that scares me the most after fifteen years in the SEALs?

“Civilian life.”

2. “100 PERCENT, HE’S ON THE THIRD FLOOR.”

The Shooter and the rest of the team made one last night run on the mock-up of the compound in North Carolina, then drove back to their homes and headquarters in Virginia for a brief break.

There were goodbyes to his wife and sleeping children. Normally she’d say, ‘I’m fine, just go.’ This time there was nothing fine about her. Like this would be the last time we’d see each other.









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