Bin Laden Counter Strike was planned in case of confrontation

May 10, 2011, 10:50 by R.E. Christian

The U.S. force that killed Osama bin Laden was kept big enough to fight its way out of any engagement with Pakistani forces, sources told The New York Times.

On President Barack Obama's orders, the operation took precautions against any likelihood of a confrontation with the Pakistani police or military, the report said, citing senior administration and military officials.

The al-Qaida leader was killed May 2 by U.S. forces during a predawn raid on his compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad near the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The sources told the Times the assault preparations included two teams, one to bury bin Laden if killed and another made up of lawyers, interrogators and translators if he was captured alive.

Even though there was no confrontation between the assault team and the Pakistanis, the entry of the U.S. Navy SEALs into Abbottabad has raised cries of violation of sovereignty in Pakistan.

The Times described the operation as one of the riskiest by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military's Joint Special Operations Command.

"Their instructions were to avoid any confrontation if at all possible. But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorized to do it," one senior official told the Times.

The preparations pointed to the administration's lack of trust in Pakistan, the newspaper said.

Initially, two Black Hawk assault helicopters were going to be on the ready in Afghanistan, about 90 minutes from the target area. However, after Obama's review, two more helicopters carrying additional troops were added to follow the lead ones, the Times reported.

One of the standby helicopters was summoned when one of the lead Black Hawks was damaged during a hard landing, the report said.

"Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the president did not want to leave anything to chance," one administration official told the Times.

The report, quoting an official, said CIA Director Leon Panetta planned to talk with his Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, to patch up any strains in bilateral relations.

Source: UPI