In that regard, the bin Laden raid seems destined to become an anachronism. Nearly every top al-Qaida figure killed by the United States since the 9/11 attacks has died in a remote-controlled strike by unmanned drone aircraft — their deaths seen back in Washington via high-definition video. An estimated 80 top terrorist leaders have been killed in places like Pakistan and Yemen, according to The Long War Journal.com, which tracks such airborne strikes.
Special operations troops often conduct raids similar to the bin Laden strike a dozen times a night in Afghanistan, and previously in Iraq, killing thousands of mostly mid- and lower-level terrorists. It’s all part of a war on terror that is winding down and giving way to the drone war outside traditional war zones, given the scheduled drawdown of most U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“No Easy Day” shows how routine such operations have become. But the public rarely hears about them unless the target is as historic as bin Laden.
The SEALS, according to Bissonnette’s description, were prepared as they had been in other raids for a gunfight in close quarters, which likely would last only a few seconds, with no margin for error. By the time the SEALs reached the top floor of bin Laden’s compound, roughly 15 minutes had passed, giving the terror leader adequate time to strap on a suicide vest or get a gun, he said.
Bissonnette says he was directly behind a point man going up the stairs in the pitch black hallway. Near the top, he said, he heard two silenced shots fired by the first SEAL into the hallway. He wrote that the point man had seen a man peeking out of a door on the right side of the hallway, but Bissonnette could not tell from his vantage point whether the bullets hit the target.