The SEAL Team Six raid of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound Sunday is being seen as a historic success. But the roots of that success are in lessons learned from the failure of a mission to free the US hostages held by Iran in 1980.
The Navy SEAL commando raid of Osama Bin Laden’s compound this week – ultimately resulting in his death – is being hailed as one of the most pivotal black operations achievements in the highly secretive existence of US Joint Special Operations Command.
SEAL Team Six – known among operators as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU – drilled for the bin Laden mission for months. In preparation for the close quarters battles that would come with storming the compound, team members fired upwards of 700 rounds of bullets a week in houses built specifically for learning how to dodge and avoid shooting ricocheted rounds, according to former operatives.
But the special mission units of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which execute the most classified US military operations, have not always enjoyed such extensive coordinated training – or such success. In fact, JSOC – the Pentagon’s umbrella command for the Army's Delta Force and Navy SEALs – was founded on the heels of some very public failures.
The lessons learned from previous failures – particularly one “horrible night” in April 1980 – helped to make the strike on Mr. bin Laden’s compound “a great day” in special operations force history, says retired Delta Force operative Lt. Col. Lewis “Bucky” Burruss.
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