Bin Laden Mission: Six Other Notable Raids; Three That Worked And Three That Didn't
There are uncountable things that could have gone wrong in the raid that ended up with Osama Bin Laden dead; operations like this usually have the odds against them.
You don't want Chuck Bronson coming after you.
The Bin Laden raid will join the ranks of historic missions, some famous because they worked, some famous because they didn't.
Here are three of each.
3. The Cabanatuan Raid
As World War II was winding down, a Japanese POW camp with more than 500 prisoners, in the Philippines, became a cause of prime concern.
The prisoners had been members of the Bataan Death March, and the common belief was that the Japanese would kill them as American forces approached rather than let them live to testify to the world about the brutality they endured.
The camp, though, was 30 miles behind enemy lines. A select force of about 100 U.S. Army Rangers, aided by local scouts and guerrillas, managed to hike undetected to the camp and, in a nighttime raid, killed hundreds of Japanese guards, rescued nearly all the prisoners and escorted them back through enemy lines with pursuit hot on their tail.
2. Los Banos Raid
Similar to Cabanatuan -- a Japanese POW camp in the heart of the Philippines at the end of the war -- it was made even more difficult because it came a month after that one, and the Japanese were on their guard.
Still, Army Airborne troops -- using paratroopers, amphibious tanks and local guerrillas -- succeeded in a complex operation that rescued more than 2,100 prisoners.
While America was celebrating the bicentennial on July 4, 1976, the Israeli Defense Force was kicking Palestinian ass as they saved passengers and crew of a plane that had been hijacked and was sitting at a Ugandan airport.
The IDF flew commandos thousands of miles and, in a nighttime raid, saved all but four of the 260 hostages. All the hijackers were killed, as were a number of Ugandan ground forces; the raiders also blew up a bunch of Ugandan MiG-17s for good measure.
Not so successful
3. Moscow Theater Hostages
In 2002 armed Chechens took over a crowded Moscow theater and began issuing political demands in return for their 850 hostages.
On the third day of the crisis, Russian Spetsnaz forces offered authorities a solution. A pretty disastrous solution.
They pumped a dangerous chemical into the theater -- no one yet has owned up to what it was -- and indeed killed almost all the hostage-takers. They also killed at least 129 hostages, and likely more. Again, transparency on these things is not a big Russian priority and, indeed, Russian officials declared the raid a success and snuffed out attempts to investigate it.