But a new report in the National Journal reveals the organizational and technological breakthroughs that allowed the Joint Special Operations Command strike to actually succeed.
Way at the bottom of a profile of the team behind the kill, Marc Ambinder reports:
When Gen. Stanley McChrystal became JSOC’s commanding general in 2004, he and his intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, set about transforming the way the subordinate units analyze and act on intelligence. [...]
People familiar with the unit suggest that McChrystal and Flynn introduced hardened commandos to basic criminal forensic techniques and then used highly advanced and still-classified technology to transform bits of information into actionable intelligence. One way they did this was to create forward-deployed fusion cells, where JSOC units were paired with intelligence analysts from the NSA and the NGA. Such analysis helped the CIA to establish, with a high degree of probability, that Osama bin Laden and his family were hiding in that particular compound.
These technicians could “exploit and analyze” data obtained from the battlefield instantly, using their access to the government’s various biometric, facial-recognition, and voice-print databases. These cells also used highly advanced surveillance technology and computer-based pattern analysis to layer predictive models of insurgent behavior onto real-time observations.
Ambinder notes that the military has begun to incorporate these techniques across the services. The idea: to improve the way intelligence is gathered, analyzed and utilized.
The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden [National Journal]
Photo: Samuel Morse/U.S. Special Operations Command