Barack Obama Reveals What He Said During Call Before Osama Bin Laden Was Killed
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To mark the tenth anniversary of the operation which resulted in the death of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama sat down with Admiral William McRaven and spoke about the final phone call before the raid:
Obama was President of the United States when the raid took place at a compound holding bin Laden, while Admiral McRaven was working as commander of the special operations forces that conducted the raid.
Prior to the mission coming to a close, Obama called Admiral McRaven for one last conversation. In it, he wished the team well and asked him to convey his appreciation to the other troops.
Interviewing the pair, Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor, asked why Obama wanted to make the call.
In response, the former POTUS explained: "Two reasons I did that. One, no matter how highly trained those warriors were, there was still enormous risk to a mission like that.
"But the second reason I think it was important for me is that, as Commander-in-Chief and certainly here in Washington, a lot of times these issues of war are treated as abstractions.
"And we forget that these are folks who have families and loved ones and that they are carrying a burden on behalf of hundreds of millions of Americans.
"And when you are Commander-in-Chief and you make a decision about a particular mission like that, it was one of those rare opportunities where I had the chance to say - not after the fact, not in retrospect, not when folks are coming home - but before they go that we don't take this for granted."
Speaking openly about how it felt to be on the other end of that phone call, Admiral McRaven said: "This phone call meant a lot to me and to the guys getting ready to go on the mission.
"This was a - the Commander-in-Chief, yes - but a man who understood that the SEALs [United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land] and the Night Stalkers, the helicopter pilots, were getting ready to go on a mission that potentially could cost them their lives and you wanted to convey that to me."
Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in May 2011 during a raid on a compound in the town of Abbottabad.
Following the operation's conclusion, Obama went to New York to mark the anniversary of 9/11. Asked about what the take away from those experiences was, Obama went on: "I'd stayed in touch with many of the family members of the 9/11 victims.
"I heard from them about how those wounds in their hearts hadn't fully healed. Their concern and their worry that their loved ones and what had happened might be forgotten."
He added: "There was a young woman, at this point 14, who had lost her father at the age of four and had actually talked to her father in the building. It was the last conversation that she remembered with her father... it brought home the fact that so many of the issues we deal with, they're big historic issues but they're also issues that are very personal for people."