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Killing Bin Laden: Operation Neptune Spear 2011

Killing Bin Laden: Operation Neptune Spear 2011 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review October 2014 Title Killing Bin Laden: Operation Neptune Spear 2011
Author Peter Panzeri Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2014 ISBN 9781472804082
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


The actual operation consumed 38 minutes.  It employed just 24 men, one dog and one interpreter.  And it required 10 years of "intensive intelligence gathering, analysis and planning" – and the combined resources of world's only superpower – to execute.

It was the effort to kill Osama Bin Laden – "the world's most wanted man".  And now it's the subject of the exciting 45th installment in Osprey's popular "Raid" series.

Killing Bin Laden commences with excellent background notes on Bin Laden's family, religious and jihadist roots.  Author Peter Panzeri correctly includes, for instance, the Lebanese Civil War among the terrorist's formative influences – a fact often absent from many popular biographies.  And he competently recaps al-Qaeda's formation and "pre-9/11" actions.

Subtitled "Operation Neptune Spear 2011", text next turns to America's decade-long hunt for the Muslim terror mastermind.  Again, coverage competently courses through the mission's complex array of planning factors – diplomatic, political, military, technical and even personal – before reaching the operation itself.

Simplicity and speed – coupled with stealth and surprise – remained key goals.  From air support and team training to target identification and site-sensitive exploitation, planners systematically sought to minimize dangers – and to maximize results.

"One is none, and two is one" therefore ruled.  Contingencies included local power and communications blackouts, CIA operatives laser-painting Bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound to confirm target location, and multiple entry and exfil options.

In three phases, US Navy SEALs methodically and quietly cleared the site.  Within 15 minutes of their arrival, Bin Laden was dead.

Multiple chronologies, timelines, maps, sidebars, action paintings, photos, acronym glossary and index support the study.  A disclaimer also reassures readers that "[n]o classified or confidential information was accessed or used in composing this account."

So Osprey's book obviously remains a distillation of publicly available, "open source documentation", as its selected bibliography confirms.  "Analysis", "aftermath" and "conclusion" sections wrap things up.

I just question some transliterations from Arabic.  "Osama", for instance, is properly rendered "Usama".  And don't get me started on "al-Qaeda".  But, hey, we know whom we're talking about – right?

In low-intensity or asymmetric warfare, a specific sequence of events often governs military actions.  Intelligence analysts first "connect dots", turning raw data into information.  Political leaders then forge policies or directives from that information.  And armed forces – the "spear tip" – ultimately execute those directives with deadly dispatch.

Learn how Operation Neptune Spear successfully executed "the world's most wanted man" – bringing mass-murderer Osama Bin Laden to an apt end.  Get Osprey's terrific little tome.

Highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!