REVIEW: Killing Bin Laden – Operation Neptune Spear 2011

Osprey Publishing, Raid Series, Raid 45. Author – Peter Panzeri Jr.

Peter’s book provides a very detailed accounting of events leading up to, during, and after the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. This raid was the crowning jewel for US Special Forces in the 21st Century. Working through adversity during the raid, the team was able to take out the High Value Target (HVT) that the US Government and its western allies had spent 100s of millions of dollars hunting and tracking since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The impact of the death of Osama Bin Laden was felt immediately, worldwide, and also had a huge impact on terrorist operations, based on intelligence material collected from the compound. “

The planning and details that went into the preparation was very thorough. The actions on the ground and unknown mitigating circumstances forced the Seal Team and Task Force 160 Pilots into situations wherein they had to think on their feet and adapt to the situation on the ground. It would be a mistake to say this raid was a textbook example of how modern raids by Special Forces should be executed.

After reading this book, two SNAFUS come to mind about the raid. The stealth chopper performed great up until the time it was upset by its own strong propwash that caused it to crash. The Pilot was smart enough to maintain the rotor speed to keep the chopper upright as it leaned against a wall, long enough for the Seal Team members to get out of the chopper to continue their mission on the compound. Other instances wherein the team was getting ready to breach a heavy gate that they thought was locked. A simple twist of fate and one of the team members on the other side of the gate realized that he could actually unlock it and let his team members walk in without the noise from blowing it. Good call.

The raiders recount their separate stories in the book in a way that makes you think someone was being disingenuous about what actually happened in the room when Bin Laden was shot. We know who the shooter was. He has published his story. And we know other team members were in the room as well and they have their version. It is sad to think such a great raid could end in team members fighting over which version was more accurate. Were they driven by ulterior motives like book rights and movie rights? Some SF operators have been critical of the Seal Team after this raid saying they were Hollywood drama divas. This story and many like it about the Seal Teams present a pattern of bravado that tarnishes the reputation of Special Forces in general. Let us know what you think of the raid and how the raiders handled the media afterwards.

About the author. Peter F. Panzeri, Jr. is a former infantry officer in the US Army who has taught at West Point, RMA Sandhurst, and the US Army Infantry School. Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Edouard Detaille.

This book is available on (US), Amazon UK and at Osprey Publishing.