NationalJournal.com – The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden – Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 70 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers.

After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were counted, and five were killed. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap — boom, boom — to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal.

via NationalJournal.com – The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden – Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

I’m not really linking this article for the details on the raid, but rather, for the background information on JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command.

When the US deploys forces overseas to combat, they are packaged and assigned to one of the regional combatant commanders, such as CENTCOM, the US Central Command, responsible for the Middle East and Western Asia The regional combatant commanders are known as COCOMs. . All military forces in a region fall under the command of the COCOM.  Each COCOM has component commanders under him, for Air Force, Navy, Army, Marine, and Special Operations (Special Operations, while it encompasses folks from all the services, it treated like a separate service in many ways). These component commanders work at the direction of the COCOM to integrate their efforts to achieve the mission.  The COCOM is the interface between the civilian government and the uniformed services in the operational chain of command. The the Joint Chiefs of Staff act as the force providers to the COCOMs, a communications channel between them and the civilian leadership, and military advisors to the President and SecDef. They don’t command the COCOMs.

The exception to this is the JSOC. JSOC is a very small organization, in terms of deployable units. Just a few hundred people. There’s a large support organization behind it, but in terms of trigger pullers, it is very, very small. DEVGRU, often known as SEAL Team Six, and the Army’s Delta are the most widely known of JSOCs forces.  JSOC may work in one of the COCOMs regions, and work closely to coordinate with their staffs, but they take their orders directly from the civilian leadership.

DEVGRU recruits from the cream of the the Navy’s SEAL teams. Delta, oddly, while it has large numbers of people from the Special Forces and Ranger communities, actually recruits from the entire Army. Damn near every promotable Specialist in the Army has sat through their recruiting pitch. Lots of people try out. Damn few make it.

JSOC provides the SecDef and the President a very sharp dagger to carry out sensitive, high risk, high reward operations such as the raid on Bin Laden.

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