Saturday, May 07, 2011

From Jalabad to Abbottabad and Back

The distance from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to Abbottabad, Pakistan, is 158.9 miles, or approximately 160 miles. Let's say that half of this distance lies in Afghanistan and half in Pakistan.

This means that the four AH-60 Black Hawk stealth choppers (if published reports are to be believed) that the SEAL commandos used to kill Osama Bin Laden flew for half of 320 miles, that is, 160 miles round trip inside Pakistan.

Typical speed of these choppers range from 140-160 mph. Using the lower limit as the average speed of the choppers over mountainous terrain at night implies that they flew in Pakistan's airspace for just over an hour. Add 40 minutes to that for the operation itself, an additional 10 minutes to destroy the damaged helicopter, and the total time the commandos spent in Pakistan amounts to no more than 2 hours.

Did U.S. forces jam Pakistani radars? Who knows, but the fact is that 2 hours is too long for a country not to be aware that its airspace has been violated. Pakistan's intelligence service and the army probably were complicit in the operation. If so, that was a good thing. After all, if Pakistani forces killed bin Laden or got into a confrontation with the commandos in the terrorist's compound, it would have been disastrous for the Muslim nation.

All's well that ends well. The terrorist mastermind has been eliminated. Al-Qaida has received a debilitating blow. The world is safer. And Muslims can go about toppling dictators in the Middle East for tyranny to end, freedom to triumph and an Arab renaissance to begin.

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