This book is part of the “Raid” series published by Osprey Publishing and this edition represents the first edition (2014). Osprey Publishing have been a prolific producer of books since 1968, with titles that encompass modelling reference, hobby guides and a number of titles which include; Air Vanguard, Aircraft of the Aces, New Vanguard, Wargaming, Osprey Wargames, Osprey Modeling Guides, and many other titles for years. “Raid” is one of the newer series offered. This series contains 47 different books ranging in subjects from Blackbeard’s Last Fight, Pirate Hunting in North Carolina 1718 to Killing Bin Laden; Operation Neptune Spear 2011, which is the focus of this review.
Mr. Peter F. Panzeri Jr. is the author of this book. His background which is found on the of the inside front cover, states he “is a decorated veteran and combat arms officer who has taught for USMA West Point, RMA Sandhurst, the US Army Infantry School and Intelligence School and other agencies worldwide.” Mr. Panzeri has also written “Little Big Horn, 1876; Custer’s Last Stand.” which was published by Osprey back in 1995 under the Campaign title series. Illustrations for this book are done by Mr. Johnny Shumate, who created the cover and battle scene artwork for this book along with Mr. Alan Gilliland who created the “bird’s eye view” illustrations for this book.
This book traces the events of Bin Laden’s early days, his role in 9/11 attacks, to the raid and his death on May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALS. The cover of this book shows an artist rendering of the Bin Laden compound with two “MH-X” Stealth helicopters flying over the infamous house. The cover is printed in a black glossy finish with the title of the book in white lettering along with the author’s name. The illustration is done in a grayish color to depict a semi-moon lit night. The title page on the inside of the book has a photo of the day after the raid with Pakistani military trying to prevent photos from being taken from outside the compound.
Page two is the legal page containing the disclaimer, use of pseudonyms and call signs, bibliography and critical sources, with a list of acronyms and abbreviations for the reader to refer to during the reading of the book.
Page three is the table of contents which is broken down into the follow chapters:
- 1. Introduction, this is two pages long starting on page 4. The title is self-explanatory.
- 2. Origins: This chapter is 11 pages in length and contains 6 sub-sections starting with “The making of Osama Bin Laden” to “Al-Qaeda’s long term strategic plan.”
- 3. Initial Strategy: This is 17 pages in length with 6 sub-sections that starts with “The ten-year manhunt” to “The options” section. A tactical map in this section shows Bin Laden’s known locations from 2001-2011.
- 4. The Plan: Comprising of 9 pages with 4 sub-sections starting with “The McRaven model” to “The assault plan.” This chapter goes into the “task organization” of the raid and number of spec. ops involved in the plan.
- 5. The Raid: The longest chapter containing 26 pages and 6 sub-sections starting with “The Infil” and ending with “The Exfil.” This chapter explains, with the help of diagrams, tactical maps and illustration, how the raid went down. Interior details of the house are included in this chapter.
- 6. Aftermath: A short chapter that is 3 pages in length and discusses the events that happened after the raid.
- 7. Analysis: This chapter is 5 pages in length having only 2 sub-section, “Relative superiority and the Spec Ops model” and “Good intelligence and innovation.” This is the “What if….” Section of the book.
- 8. Conclusion: A single page in length, this mentions the connection to Boko Haram and other terror cells found in the intelligence gained from the raid.
This is followed by the bibliography and the index, the book has a total of 80 pages which are printed on a semi-gloss paper, this is a paperback book.
The accounts contained in this book, according to the source page, are gleaned (taken) from the “880 plus page report, Pakistani Abbottabad Commission Report inclusion of candid raw data, personal accounts and interviews of former U.S. Navy SEAL, “Mark Owen”, and the abundance of detailed information on “Operation Neptune Spear” released in 2011 to the producers and screenwriters of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” end quote. Throughout this book the reader will find each chapter has a time line in regards for that that particular chapter. Example: Page 23, Initial Strategy, “Key leads in the manhunt” starting from 2001 to 2010, which mentions the capture of key al-Qaeda players over those time periods. Also there are sargent-like chevrons though out this book in the lower corners of the pages, these contain important dates concerning the contents of each chapter. Example: Page 22, Initial Strategy, “January 23, 2004- Hassan Ghul, al-Qaeda courier and operative, is captured in Northern Iraq.”
At times reading and reviewing this book was in all honesty difficult at times. Why? Given the subject matter of this book, which is still fresh in the minds of us all, and with the level of information or disinformation, it was difficult not to interject my personal opinions in this review. I would encourage others to try and keep in open mind when reading this book. To me this is one of those books that will either do one of two things:
- 1.Reinforce ones’ own personal opinion based on fact, political or conspiracy theories and either confirms or denies those opinions.
- 2. Or raises more questions leaving the reader to wonder why it took so long based on the information that was out there in the first place.
For me, this book does both. It’s my belief that Mr. Panzeri Jr. did just that in comprising the information contained in this book. This is a well thought out piece, with very good detailed maps to help the reader follow those events leading up to May 2, 2011 and beyond. We’ll never know the truth when it comes to operations such as this one, however what happened after in the months following should have never happened.
Thanks to Osprey and Fred Boucher, call sign JPTRR, for the chance to review this book.