President Barack Obama had instructed the US commandos to fight their way out if they were challenged by the Pakistani soldiers during the daring Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, saying safety of his forces was more important than keeping Pakistanis happy.
"The premium is on the protection of our force, not on keeping the Pakistanis happy," Obama instructed Commander of the US Special Operations Command William McRaven, according to a new book 'Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden - from 9/11 to Abbottabad', that hit the book stand this week.
Obama's specific instructions in this regard, marking a huge fundamental shift, came as his team were in discussion what to do if the Navy SEALs were challenged by Pakistan during or after the raid at the Abbottabad on May 2 last year.
US President Barack Obama (File Photo)
"Now that the decision had been made not to bring the Pakistanis into any aspect of the operation, Obama (Commander-in-Chief) and his team had to think through how best to deal with whatever their reaction might be, particularly on the ground in Abbottabad, should the president green-light the raid," author Peter L Bergen wrote.
According to the book, a senior administration official explains: "McRaven, in some of the earliest briefings, was very sensitive to the idea that we don't want to create, for lack of a better word, a shit storm with the Pakistanis if we don't need to. So if this can be accomplished in a way that did not result in dead Pakistanis, either civilians or security forces, that's the optimal solution."
McRaven initially came up with an assault plan that would have had the SEALs avoiding any kind of firefight with the Pakistanis unless it was absolutely necessary.
"If the Pakistanis did show up in force at the compound, McRaven's proposal was that the SEALs set up a defensive perimeter and hold them at bay," Bergen wrote.