Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Weather's Role in Bin Laden's Taste of Justice

Who says the weather doesn't affect almost everything?  It even played a significant role in the recent (and highly successful), raid on Usama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

The image below is a screen capture (click to enlarge) of the weather observations from the airport in Islamabad, Pakistan from this past Saturday, April 30th.  This location is about 30 miles from Abbottabad, where Mr. Bin Laden was introduced to justice by one or more Navy SEALs on Sunday night.

As you can see by examining the above weather data, not only was the visibility low throughout the day, but thunderstorms and 25+ mph winds also plagued the area.  None of these conditions are ideal for conducting operations via low flying, fast moving Black Hawk helicopters.

As widely reported, it was for this reason that the mission (which had originally been planned for Saturday night), was moved to Sunday night (U.S. time).  The weather was forecast to clear, winds were forecast to be nearly calm and visibility was forecast to improve enough for safe operations, yet still remain within a range that limited sight by the naked eye on the ground.  All of that is exactly what came to pass on Sunday night.

Another added benefit of the Sunday night operation was the presence of a new moon, which meant little to no additional brightness in the sky to possibly tip-off the inhabitants of the compound (or their protectors) that a surprise was coming.

All throughout history, we've heard the tales of the role that weather (and weather forecasting) has played in significant military events.  This is just the most recent example.  I'm certainly glad to echo the reports that the mission was successful, and every U.S. soldier returned safely to base.

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