"It's probably going to go down in history as the most successful special operations mission since World War II," retired Lt. Gen. Terry Scott, a former chief of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, told the Boston Herald.
Two dozen Navy SEALs, officially known as the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, flew 150 miles in two helicopters from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to Abbottabad, Pakistan, before dawn Monday, Sunday afternoon in the United States, U.S. officials said Monday in offering some details about the top-secret mission.
As the four-bladed, twin-engine UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters hovered over bin Laden's compound, the SEALs slid down ropes, the officials said.
"Every person has a specific job or series of jobs, to blow the wall or blow the door," Scott told the newspaper. "The second person in clears the room."
Even though one helicopter crashed on its side, injuring no one, SEALs began a room-by-room hunt as the White House national security team in the Situation Room monitored the raid in real time, officials said.
The operation took 40 minutes and had been heavily rehearsed, reportedly in a mockup compound at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, the Herald said.
"I dare say they did at least 25 walkthroughs," Scott said. "And each time, they'd say, 'This is what we could do differently.'"
Research associate Joseph Trevithick of the GlobalSecurity.org think tank of Alexandria, Va., told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot, "This is exactly the kind of mission that this kind of unit is maintained for -- direct action against a terrorism target."
The unit is based at Oceana Naval Air Station's Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach, Va.
But don't expect any victory parades or homecomings for the SEALs Trevithick said.
Team 6 is one of the most secretive outfits in the entire U.S. military, with the highest level on the U.S. Special Operations Command spectrum and National Command Authority. All of its operations are classified.
The other such group is 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, commonly known as Delta, or Delta Force.