Belmont Club

The Element of Surprise

Bill Ardolino has a posted a sketch provided by US government sources showing the layout of Osama Bin Laden’s safe house.  It is shaped like a truncated isosceles triangle with one vertex lopped off.  The triangular compound was surrounded by high walls. But it was also internally subdivided, like a ship, in order to make it impossible for a landing force to alight directly within it. The living quarters were grouped in a keep, walled off from the rest of the compound by an alley to either side.

It was designed to delay an assault team long enough for reinforcements to arrive. But the SEALs apparently brought the helicopters down into the confined space anyhow. One of the SEAL helicopters can be seen in this picture of the aftermath, apparently hung up on a high wall.

Interestingly, the Google Maps satellite view shows a series of circular excavations on the interior side of the outer wall. Whatever was to destined be placed there would still leave a clear field of fire from the house but considerably constrict the open space. It would have reduced the maximum available rotor diameter space to something like 20 meters. The CH-53 has a 24 meter rotor diameter and UH-60 has a rotor diameter of about 16 meters.

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic says SEAL Team Six “replicated the one-acre compound at Camp Alpha, a segregated section of Bagram Air Base. Trial runs were held in early April” and practiced against the mockup. On the night of the raid, the SEAL helicopters used some as yet undisclosed method to either spoof the Pakistani air defenses or evade them entirely. And then they were in. Whether the SEALs blew their way through the walls or gain entry by escalade is unknown. But within a few minutes 22 of the occupants were killed or captured by an attack force estimated to have numbered no more than two dozen.

A Pakistani newspaper article, written before the announcement of Bin Laden’s death, describes the Army’s response. Sohaib Athar reports helicopter sounds at 1 am local, which was very unusual for that fortified town. Two small explosions and a much larger one were heard. An hour later, the operation is finished.

Abottabad: A helicopter was crashed in Abottabad near Pakistan Military Academy Kakool on late Sunday night, police sources said.

While local sources said that the helicopter was seen on very low flight before the crashed. Firing and two small blast were also hared before a massive blast, sources said.

The sources said that the third blast which was stated to be massive has damaged the windows of the area. It was stated to be the unexpected incident because, according to the local sources, Abottabad was a mountainous area and helicopters flights have been stopped in the in Abottabad in the night.

The sources said that the helicopter fell down in a plot in Sikandarabad, dense area of Abottabad, spreading panic in the area. The blast was hared in the area of around 10 kilometers, the sources added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Abottabad was very sensitive area because of PMA Kakool.

Heavy contingent of security forces and rescue teams rushed to the spot and stated relief operation.

Pak Army jawans have cordoned off the area and public and media representatives have been restricted to approach the area for reporting, while no injury and casualty has been reported. However, the reason of the crashed was immediately unknown.

It was also not clear that how many people were in the helicopter at the time of the crashed.

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