A closer look at Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden

May 4, 2011 10:35:02 AM PDT
The Navy SEALs who brought Osama bin Laden down are back in the U.S. for a debriefing on the raid.

The group is known as Team 6 and their heroic actions have renewed interest in the elite force.

The Navy's only recruit training command is located in Chicago's northern suburbs, so chances are the men who brought an end to Osama bin Laden's life got their start here.

SEAL stands for Sea, Air and Land. U.S. Navy SEALs go anywhere and do anything.

"I mean, it's a self-contained unit that can go any place in the world and literally do nothing but kick ass," said Richard Marcinko, former Navy Seal and Team 6 commander.

Recruits jog for miles in deep sand. They can swim nearly 350 feet underwater with their hands and feet bound, submerge themselves in freezing water and endure exposure to tear gas.

SEAL training takes two years and 75 percent don't make it through. Even if they do, they need years more experience in the field to even be considered for the squad sent after bin Laden. Marcinko said Team 6 started in 1980.

"By the time you get to 6 and you go through the saturation training, you're going to overcome any deficiencies you have, or you're going to wash out and say, 'You're a good SEAL but you're not good enough for this,'" Marcinko said.

Their technology is also top notch. One defense blog posted pictures supposedly of the chopper the SEALs had to ditch at the bin Laden compound. Posters say it has secret stealth technology never before seen publicly. Technology and training only take a SEAL so far.

"There's a certain amount of leeway and a certain amount of latitude that our special forces have," said Chicago author Brad Thor, who served as a consultant to the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Thor spoke to ABC7 Tuesday night and wondered why bin Laden wasn't taken alive and pumped for information about al Qaeda's capabilities and sleeper cells here in the U.S.

"What I always say is you don't kill the kidnapper until he tells you where your children are. We've got too many questions and we're not going to get answers because we killed the kidnapper and that to me is of concern," Thor said.

Thor said he isn't second guessing the actions of the SEALs but he does wonder whether a "kill" order was given for the simple reason that taking bin Laden alive may have caused far more problems for the U.S. government than simply closing the book on bin Laden with two direct shots.