You don’t know their names or their faces, but the elite team of 24 Navy SEALs who carried out the covert operation to kill terrorist Osama bin Laden are the rock stars of the military world.
Bin Laden, who was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center, was finally located and killed on May 1, 2011, by a highly trained team of 24 Navy SEALs during an airstrike on a compound in Abbottabad, about 30 miles north of Pakistani capital Islamabad.
The mission was highly classified and was only known to a handful of government officials, according to the AP.
Bin laden was killed in a raid that reportedly took less than 40 minutes, during which 22 people were killed or captured. The attack was described as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage.”
Bin Laden’s body was quickly buried at sea, and his remains were handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial, said President Barack Obama.
The group responsible for the raid was the Navy SEAL Team Six, which underwent extensive training and did practice drills for months in a compound replicated to resemble that of bin Laden.
The United States Navy SEa, Air and Land (SEAL) teams, which were established in 1962, are known for their rigorous military training, precision skills and secretive nature.
The Navy SEAL mottos include “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday” and “It Pays to be a Winner.”
Dr. Mark Russell, a retired U.S. Marine and former Navy psychologist who served 27 years in the military, offers a unique insight into the mental toughness required of these elite soldiers.
“Special forces have to have a high level of what we call hardiness or resilience,” says Russell, now a psychology professor at Antioch University in Seattle.
“Someone who has true grit, and has the ability to persevere even in the face of adversity. Someone who’s not easily overwhelmed. This person must have a locus of control – which is the belief that you can control your problems – a sense of what happens to you is by your actions.
“A sense of mastery. You have to enjoy mastering challenges both mental and physical… they look at a challenge as an opportunity to improve themselves, as a way to endure.”
Samantha Chang is the executive editor of TheImproper and a celebrity writer at Examiner.