Operation Geronimo: Former SEAL talks logistics of bringing down bin Laden

May 03, 2011

How do you take down the world's most notorious terrorist? We may never know all the details of Operation Geronimo, but former Navy SEAL Stew Smith can speculate. Chat with Smith about what a mission of this magnitude takes, from training and tactics to Navy SEAL intuition.

Read today's story: Who shot bin Laden? Former SEALs fill in the blanks

Hi - Stew Smith here and I'd be happy to chat

For safety's sake wouldn't a noisy helicopter have to approach the compound already firing guns? Afterall, we had to expect the inhabitants to start firing as soon as they saw and heard the helicopter?

That is assuming they were on guard and ready.  It is a quick process from when you hear a helo and when you have boots on the ground.

What handguns and what ars did they carry ?

Not sure.

It's unlikely that these guys will get the ticker tape parade or public ceremony that they deserve. What is the best way to honor their courage, skill, and sacrifice? Are there any charities devoted to them and their families?

Yes the Wounded Warrior Fund and the Navy SEAL Foundation - www.nswfoundation.org

What kind of training to Navy SEALs go through?

It is a long list of training - it takes over 2 years to make a SEAL.  google BUD/S training - I write articles on Spec ops training you can find them at www.military.com or StewSmith.com

But we are a society of laws. What was the legal basis for going into another country and assassinating a person?

Good question - depends on how you define WAR.

"The man who shot Osama Bin Laden, he shot Osama Bin Laden, he is the bravest man of all." Ok, now seriously. In this day and age I believe eventually the man's name will be known; unfortunately someone will tell. And that is unfortunate, because he was the gunman, but we the U.S. really killed him.

I doubt it - maybe when he retires will it be known.  But I would not want anyone knowing I did that - I am sure there are many angry followers of OBL looking for revenge.

How is the decision made as to whether it's a SEAL team, or a Delta Force unit that gets a mission like this.

It is a matter of who is the most available / ready to go at that time.  Sometimes it depends on the commanding officer ability to sell it to the NSC.

Mr. Smith, why are there no female SEALs? Thanks for taking my question.

It is the law right now - it is consider a front line special force / infantry unit.  All are men only.  BUT if you want to go behind the lines - try CIA.  Who knows one day??

Who enters the house first and how many? Are the guys searching for intel in the back? Do people have specific jobs or does everybody do everything?

Yes - everyone has a job - first secure the building - then find intel.

Is the wanting to become a Navy Seal somewhat of a calling would you say (like in other careers such as a priest). How much is the pay? Do they live isolated from others, i.e., do their neighbors know they are Navy Seals.

Yes - it is.  You have to want to do this job.  I have more than 25 SEAL articles for more info and links to great books as no chat room will adequately answer your question...

See www.stewsmith.com/linkpages/navysealarticles.htm


Osama bin Laden was always photographed with his Krinkov assault rifle. Would you suspect this would have been picked up by a team member on the way out? It would surely make a good museum piece at one of the 9/11 memorials.

not sure

Are pulsed microwave devices used to expedite communications?

not sure

What are personality traits that allow a SEAL to carry out a mission like this without letting his emotions (i.e. fear or excitement of the task) get the better of him? Is the ideal SEAL an automaton of sorts?

Years of training - training - training.  When do you something hundreds / thousands of times you do not think - you react.


I say the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman;" How close was that to what the Navy Seals experience?


I am quoting "One U.S. helicopter was lost during the operation, because of mechanical failure, which the officials did not elaborate on. One U.S. helicopter was lost during the operation, because of mechanical failure, which the officials did not elaborate on. They said the aircraft was destroyed by the crew for security reasons," Could this have been another Blackhawk Down Incident - but we are not really getting field intel on the reality of the operation ?

The engines overheated as it could not get enough air to cool down when on the ground


What with a military academy right near where Bin Laden was living, wouldn't they be accustomed to hearing helicopters approaching for landing? I'd imagine the same would be true at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, etc.

true - good point


Wouldnt it have been better to capture him alive so we could question him?

Perhaps - but also not having to deal with captivity / trial / execution (highly likely) it simplifies things



Who else was in the compound and how many casualties will there be? Are US forces still on-site?

No - we are all gone..

What does it mean when a Navy Seal reaches Chief? Would all member of this particular team reached the Chief level?

He would be the Team chief..

There's some questions about why the SEALs vs. the Army equivalent. The current JSOTF boss is a SEAL Admiral as is the SOCOM Commander. Do you think the Army guys have their noses out of joint?

Not really - this is the first SEAL ever in charge.  For the past 20+ years it has been a 4 star general

Are there any major differences between SEALs and their counterparts in the other services? Do they train differently? Prepare for different missions? Prepare differently for missions? And do you think anyone in the Army is saying, damn, there goes the Navy getting all the headlines?

Yes but the thing to remember is that we are on the same team.  We all prepare similarly

Thank you for your time - sorry I have to go.


Stew Smith

In This Chat
Stew Smith
Stew Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL Lieutenant, and author of several fitness and self defense books such as The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, Maximum Fitness, The Special Ops Workouts, and SWAT Fitness.

Certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and as military fitness trainer, Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT and many other law enforcement professions. Stew has written more than 400 articles and 40 eBooks sold at both Military.com and StewSmith.com. He is a consultant and presenter with the government in the area of troop physical development through his non-profit Heroes of Tomorrow. See www.heroesoftomorrow.org for more information.
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