By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2012 – The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said yesterday that a post-raid assessment concluded there is no evidence that the Pakistani government knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
Senior leaders, he said, believed informing Pakistan about the raid in advance would have put the mission at risk. McRaven said he doesn’t believe the Pakistani government knew bin Laden’s whereabouts. “We have no intelligence that indicates the Pakistanis knew he was there,” he added.
McRaven, interviewed on stage by Charlie Rose, a CBS executive editor and anchor, said there was never a moment he doubted the raid would succeed. “We hand-picked the guys,” he said. “They were the best of the best, all across the board. They had extensive combat experience, and consequently … I was very confident.”
Though bin Laden is dead, nonstate actors still present a threat, the admiral said.
“We’ve done a terrific job of taking care of the core of al- Qaida,” McRaven said. But, he added, “there’s no such thing as a local problem anymore. … Everything in the world is connected.” This interconnectedness means the future of special operations lies in partnerships with other nations, he added.
“We understand … to minimize the rise of violent extremism, you have to create the conditions on the ground where people have good jobs, where there is the rule of law, where there is stability [and] where there is good governance,” he said. “We think, from a military standpoint, we can certainly help with the security that will be required to help begin to build some of that stability.
“The raids get all the media attention,” he continued, “but the reality of the matter is the bulk of what we do is building partner capacity and working with host nations. I think that’s the future of special operations.”
The admiral said he recently returned from Afghanistan, where partnership building is ongoing, and he feels the relationship is the best he’s ever seen it. The relationship between Afghans and their local, regional and national governments is taking serious root, he said.
Afghanistan will be a better version of itself in 2014, McRaven said, noting that the Afghan army is one of the most respected institutions in the country.
“It’s an entirely different paradigm for the people of Afghanistan, but I’m convinced we’re on the right path,” he said.