No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen; Kevin Maurer

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen; Kevin Maurer

Author:Mark Owen; Kevin Maurer
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Non-Fiction, War
ISBN: 9780525953722
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Published: 2012-09-04T04:00:00+00:00

It was 2007 and I was on my sixth deployment. This time, I was working with the CIA at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost Province.

Khost Province was one of the places where the hijackers who crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon trained. Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters were constantly in the province, slipping easily in and out of neighboring Pakistan.

About midway through the deployment, the whole squadron was called back to Jalalabad from multiple bases throughout the country. One of the CIA’s leading sources on Osama bin Laden reported he saw the al Qaeda leader near Tora Bora. It was the same place U.S. forces almost captured him from in 2001.

The Battle of Tora Bora started on December 12, 2001, and lasted five days. It was believed Bin Laden was hiding in a cave complex in the White Mountains, near the Khyber Pass. The cave complex was a historical safe haven for Afghan fighters, and the CIA funded many of the improvements during the 1980s to assist the mujahedeen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

U.S. and Afghan forces overran the Taliban and al Qaeda positions during the battle but failed to kill or capture Bin Laden. Now the CIA source said he was in Tora Bora.

“They saw a tall man in flowing white robes in Tora Bora,” the commander said. “He is back to possibly make his final stand.” This was 2007, and 9/11 was six years behind us. Until this point, there was no credible intelligence to his whereabouts. We all wanted to believe it, but the details weren’t adding up.

We were going to fly into Tora Bora—which sat on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, between Khost and Jalalabad—and raid his suspected location. It sounded great in theory, but the operation was based on a single human source. Single-source intelligence rarely added up. No one could confirm the report, despite dozens of drones flying day and night over Tora Bora. The mission was set to launch a few days after we arrived, but it kept getting delayed.

Every day it was a new excuse.

“We’re waiting on B-1 bombers.”

“The Rangers aren’t in place yet.”

“We’ve got Special Forces heading to the area with their Afghan partner units.”

It seemed to all of us that every general in Afghanistan wanted a piece of the mission. Units from every service were involved. The night before the operation was going to launch, they called Walt and me to the operations center.

“Something came up, and you two are going to work with the PakMil,” the commander said. “If we get squirters toward the border, we need you guys on the PakMil side to coordinate blocking positions.”

“Are we bringing our kit?” I asked.

“Yeah. Bring all your op gear. You may be operating with the Pakis.”

Once on the ground, we got word Walt had to stay in Islamabad because the Pakistanis only allowed one of us to move forward. Since I was senior, the mission fell to me. An intelligence officer and a communications tech joined me.

I spent the better part of a week in a small command center in a U-shaped building made of concrete.


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