By lex, on May 4th, 2011
We will very likely never learn the name of the hero that killed Osama bin Laden. We know that he endured a grueling 120 hours of Hell Week in training, smack in the middle of a six month, arduous Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training program that has an 80-85% washout rate. We know that he spent a further year in training with his team before being deemed combat ready. We suspect that he was a member of the Naval Special Warfare Group – DevGru – which is to a straight-stick SEAL team what the SEALs are to the Navy, the elite of the elite. Working the math on his recruitment, selection and training, we can assume he is in his late 20s or early 30s.
Since the country has been at war for nearly ten years, and the country’s special operations forces have endured a punishing operational tempo over that time, we can deduce that this wasn’t his first look at the wolf. He’s seen his fair share of combat, and your share too. Enough in fact for twenty warriors or one thousand other men. But his name will be forever unknown to us, and his medals – when they are given – will be awarded privately, the justification classified.
He wouldn’t want us to know his name. Not merely because of fear for his personal safety, nor even because of threats to his family. Because seeking the limelight forms no part of his creed. It’s not publicity he’s after, nor the ego satisfactions that come to public men. Not for him the cheering crowds. The same may be said for the thousands of intelligence analysts and support staffs that enabled an island country to peer across the world into the heart of a foreign land and tease out its secrets. They too have done their bit, and without them the warrior has no target, no training, no sustenance. Theirs is a quiet satisfaction to augment their humble salaries.
Others, however, will make their money as they always have. Peter Bergen – who gave bin Laden his first television interview in 1997 – will write a book:
Less than 48 hours after Osama bin Laden’s death, the book deals have begun. Peter Bergen will write the “definitive” book on the hunt for Bin Laden, his publisher said on Tuesday. Crown Publishers, part of Random House, said it had acquired a new book by Mr. Bergen that it described as “an immersive, definitive account of the operation that killed the world’s most wanted man.”
Mark Boal, the journalist turned screenwriter who last year won an Oscar for his screenplay “The Hurt Locker”, will make a movie with Kathryn Bigelow, that movie’s director:
For the past decade, Boal — a former journalist who became a screenwriter and won an Oscar last year for “The Hurt Locker” — has been working on a screenplay about the hunt for bin Laden. He has partnered with “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow.
Just as “The Hurt Locker” focused on an elite bomb squad working in Iraq, Boal’s untitled bin Laden script revolves around the special operations personnel and intelligence officials who planned to capture or kill the al-Qaeda leader, and was based on extensive research Boal conducted through his contacts with the U.S. military.
Bergen will do book circuits and television interviews. Boal will wear a tuxedo and Bigelow Versace to the Academy Awards celebration. They will all attend the most fashionable parties, and will everywhere be feted and petted for the work that they have done. Their accountants will count the stacks of cash that come rolling in, and ensure they receive the best possible treatment come tax time.
Meanwhile our nameless SEAL is now debriefed and is probably decompressing somewhere in Virginia’s tidewater region, playing golf maybe, or fishing off a pier. Or maybe he’s already back at a FOB, planning his next mission. He knows that soon he will once again be sent to the deserts of Iraq, the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush, or the teeming warrens of Islamabad, Kabul or Kandahar.
And he doesn’t mind, not really: He’s got his brothers with him, and there is still much work to be done.