SEALs are standing taller after secret raid

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“It’s an order of magnitude better,” said Adm. Worthington. “The training these guys are getting, it’s 10 times what we were getting when I went through. They’re getting training right now that makes them the best in the world.”

At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, special operations - Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Delta Force, and Air Force AC-130 gunships - were generally neglected. The previous Clinton administration had not called on them to go after bin Laden or his network.

All that changed under Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld: Green Berets led the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Joint Special Operations Command enlarged and expanded its manhunting skills worldwide. The Marine Corps created its first special forces command.

“We increased the size of special operations forces,” said former Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “We obviously increased their funding for new technical capabilities.”

One key move was to make Special Operations Command a “supported” command, not just one that did the bidding of other commands, but could plan and execute battles.

Rumsfeld elevated special operations to where they had field command empowerment, which is something they never had before,” Mr. Hunter said. “We increased generally across the board the size and the capability of special operation commands. … We made them more robust than they were.”

An Obama White House official told reporters that killing bin Laden was the result of years of work.

“This remarkable achievement could not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years,” the official said. “Our national security professionals did a superb job.”

SEAL commanders are urging their men to remain humble.

“Today, we should all be proud,” said a message to sailors Sunday night from Rear Adm. Edward G. Winters III, the Navy’s top SEAL. “That handful of courageous men, of strong will and character, have changed the course of history.

“Stand tall - more importantly, be humble, be the quiet professional. This is what makes our organization special. Be extremely careful about operational security. The fight is not over.”

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