Navy SEALs responsible for killing America's no.1 enemy live by simple rule – failure is not an option
Members of the legendary US Navy SEALs are unsung heroes, operating in stealth. That all changed Monday, with the newest notch on SEALs Team Six' proverbial belt – America's no.1 enemy and the most wanted man in the world – al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Helicopters interrupted the calm Abbottabad night Sunday, when about 40 Navy SEALs – all members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group – embarked on the mission of a lifetime some 65 miles north of Islamabad – eliminating the man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans in 9/11 and other terror attacks worldwide.
According to released details, the SEALs were on the ground for only 40 minutes – enough time for them to sweep the compound, kill bin-Laden's body guards and then eliminate the arch-terrorist himself. Bin Laden was shot twice: once in the chest and once in the head. The SEALs then took custody of the body, as well as some equipment found on site, and left.
They were supported by helicopter pilots from the 160th Special Ops Air Regiment, part of the Joint Special Operations Command
The mission was watched – start to finish – by US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US National Security staff, in the White House situation room.
A breed apart
Navy SEALs are often described as "a breed apart." Their creed is simple: "Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit." In the speech informing the nation of bin Laden's death, Obama made sure to thank the SEALs: "We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country," he said.
"(Tonight) we are reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours," he added. "We may not always know their names, we may not always know their stories, but they are there every day on the front lines of freedom and we are truly blessed."
Despite this monumental accomplishment, which is sure to echo for years to come, SEALs operations will forever remain clandestine. "There are other operations going on around the globe constantly," said Capt. Duncan Smith, a SEAL spokesman told ABC News. "A lot of those missions – the majority of those missions – are ones that the public will never know about... and that's a good thing," Smith said.
Navy SEALs are tasked with the most daring, dangerous and important missions. They undergo grueling training, often described as the most brutal training regimens ever devised and only one third of recruits eventually become SEALs.
"What sets SEALs apart is our diversity in terms of the environments in which we operate," said Smith, also a SEAL for 24 years. "We operate at 10,000 feet in the Hindu Kush Mountains. We operate in desert regions in Iraq and elsewhere. We operate in jungles throughout the world."
"We are not looking for cocky kids," said Senior Chief Hans Garcia, a SEAL recruiter. "The perfect person would be a candidate who is remarkably physically fit, but is pretty humble, an analytical thinker, a problem solver – someone who is very value-oriented, patriotic, puts service above self."
Officially, Team Six does not exist, a former SEAL concluded. "They train around the clock and they know failure is not an option. They either get the job done or they don't come home."