Review, thoughts & notes on The Operator -Firing shots that killed Osama Bin Laden

Secondary title: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior
Narrated by: Robert O’Neill
Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
Release date: 04-25-17

In a Nutshell

I got recommended this book by my brother, he listened to it some time ago and said it was a really interesting book.

Normally, to be honest, I wouldn’t be interested in a book like this. Especially from the title sub-line: ‘The firing shots that killed bin laden’.

I couldn’t really care less about that. And from the outset it seems like it might be about a bunch of guys that are very arrogant or jumped up about killing people and are proud of it. … That doesn’t sound like something I want to get into to be honest.

However if you frame the book as the training, the comradery and the funny stories that come about because of it all…And then some operational stuff thrown in, it’s a bit better kind of framing and mindset to look at it from. His book has all of that, and it’s genuinely an enjoyable book to listen to.

On Concerns he’s giving away classified information & this is the wrong thing to do

At the start of the book, he addresses the concerns that he’s giving away training knowledge, and operations knowledge.. with the hope that this book will inspire the next generation of people to become recruits and to make it through the training & become Navy Seals themselves.
And for that I think it’s a noble idea.

Just by knowing some of the training and test methods…It doesn’t make it easy. Every single one of these tests that I’ve heard so far sounds absolutely brutal, and I would imagine many people are listening to it thinking….There’s no way it can be THAT difficult. Yet I’m sure it is.

And in no way are all the training regimens listed out, it’s not like the Chinese army could put together a training regime based upon what has been stated on this book. I severely doubt that the Chinese special forces are trained anywhere near this level of the Navy Seals.

Also, from my brother’s notes on the claim that he’s making known or releasing classified information:

3 of the events have been made into major Hollywood films.
Loan Survivor
Caption Phillips
Zero dark 30

And another one has a video game based on it.

Medal of Honor.

Therefore, not really putting anyone’s lives in danger by talking about those events as many of these events have been covered already, and thus is not really new information.


I like how there are redacted parts in an audio book.

Yet sometimes context gives it away anyway. It literally beeps the number ‘6’ out, but provides context by saying “the enemy would be thinking, ‘what happened to teams 3, 4, & 5?’” obviously inferring that the number is 6.

Throughout the whole book its read as SEAL Team **beep**.  Very funny.


It’s a weird one, but given the title, and the notoriety around the book and the general kind of people listening so far…I would say, yes…There’s elements of ‘that’ (‘awesomeness of war’) and to appease ‘them’ (army fanatics & meatheads) but there’s a lot more to this book. And even for the average listener, I would really recommend it.

Also, don’t assume that the average meat head, or army fanatic doesn’t get more from this book that just ‘taking down that A-Rab, called Osama Bin Laden’ .

I believe regardless, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s well written, it’s funny, it’s read by the author so you get the right inflections at the right points, it’s very informative. AND I think you’ll definitely have new found respect for these guys as soon as you starting reading / listening.

AND, one other thing to point out, it’s addictive.  I would go to bed with a 30 min sleep timer, only for it to run out, and then set it for another 30 mins, and in the span of just going to bed, have listened to a whole hour of the book.

If you enjoyed the book Delta Force as I did, well this had a similar feel.


Book referenced the old man and the sea.

Marcinko founder of Seal Team 6 I think.
Joe Rogan talks about him.

Regular Seal team on steroids.
Vietnam vet.

He looks like some kind of video game, old school bad guy.

SEAL stands for SEa Air & Land  if it was just SAL, it wouldn’t sound as cool says the author.

Seal team 6. Was this team.

Me. Haha I like how there’s redacted parts in an audio book. Yet sometimes context gives it away anyway. It literally beeps the number ‘6’ out, but provides context by saying “the enemy would be thinking, ‘what happened to teams 3, 4, & 5?’” obviously inferring that the number is 6.

Throughout the whole book its read as SEAL team **beep**.  Very funny.

Turkey bell and a mop, buds ‘X division’. (can’t find a picture of this)

PTRR Physical Training, Rehabilitation Remediation.

Officer training is meant to be pretty difficult.

GI Jane movie.

Actually you can eat whatever you want at the Marines.

Me. I’m really enjoying this book, especially the room inspection part with the candy bars and dancing.

I’ve listened to Delta Force, and this was similar I feel. Yet so far I’m only half way through.

SDV – Seal Delivery Vehicle. Do not put that on your application apparently. Meant to be one of the worst jobs. Submarine that is leaky to drop Seals off at their locations.

Officers get more money.

He says, he’s convinced that dogs don’t ever stop barking in Iraq.

The story with Andy the British SBS. And just saying “awww he’s fucked mate.”
There’s just this blaze-ness to death.
Yet maybe it’s like that if you’ve been training for it. And are in that intense environment and situation.

He says, “most the enemy truly believe that Allah would guide their bullets. And when they believe that, why aim?”
He says he’s pretty sure he’s still alive due to their faith in Allah.
Me. That’s pretty crazy.

And really interesting to know.

Should be interesting for the enemy as well…To know from this actually put some real effort into training their soldiers.

Says rangers are there to fuck people up.

Gustav is the Swedish made rocket launcher.

Enemies firing out of a mosque.
And so they engage and fire back.

Says he was on 75,000 dollars a year. Whilst in Seal Team 6.

People wanting to get their first kills. And feeling bad if they didn’t.
But I guess that’s what their whole training and point is. What they’re whole career has been about. So it makes sense.

“Often they did crap their pants…But who could blame then, they’d awoken to their worst nightmare….American justice.”
Wow, what a comment.

“Allah Akbar mother fucker.” And shot him several times in the head.

On the Pakistan border dropping bombs. Because the enemy changed the rules of engagement.

He was involved in the Captain Phillips rescue mission.

Playing guitar hero in the gym with a massive TV.

They knew that he (Osama) was in Pakistan, and knew that they were doing something against international law. But because the legal way was to tell Pakistan that they knew he was there, and also knowing that Pakistan would tip off Bin Laden and he’d be gone…They decided to go in boots-on-the-ground option, not telling Pakistan, and not having a joint strike force.

They trained for 3 weeks in simulation for the compound.

Says many of the guys in Seal Team 6 are conservative, however they all had big respect knowing how Obama was dealing with the Osama bin laden issue.

The helicopters they flew in were some kind of special ‘transformer’ like helicopter hybrid thing. (apparently they use that same term in the movie Zero Dark 30)

From Wikipedia, apparently a stealth helicopter.

Turns out you get extra pay for each new skill you learn. Jumps, parachuting master class, medic etc. So the base salary may be 60,000 or whatever (not sure) but if you keep obtaining skills, it increases quite a bit.

Having to write letters to your kids and wife in case they don’t come home and get killed in action is really intense. I can’t imagine being in a real situation…Not like a movie or anything, where people actually have to do that.

Missing her wedding apologies, and thanking them for taking care of their mum.

Look up Seth Myers speech at C-SPAN and Obama’s reaction when he knew they were about to start the mission to kill bin laden, and watch it just after that event.

(joke is at 0:16) watch for Obama’s laugh, knowing that he knows he’s about to watch Bin Laden get killed for real.

“What the fuck do you mean by why are you nervous, we’re about to invade the country of a nuclear armed ally to kill some guy who we only suspect is there based solely on years of my work.  Why aren’t you nervous?”

I need to watch this movie. Ask Steve which is the right one is.

It seems like everyone is taking Ambien to help them sleep. Needs to get a good rest before doing such a difficult and important mission.

He states afterwards…”we we’re the ones in the super stealth birds, the reserves were in a normal Chinook, they’re the ones that get shot down a lot

So whilst not saying which helicopter he was to be flying in at the start … He kind of hints at it later.

He says snipers count to keep themselves calm, but keep their brain active.

Says the helicopter crashed landed there. Because of the different aerodynamic situations compared to the simulations. Their simulations had airflow (chain linked fences), whilst in reality the compound had solid concrete walls where the was not enough airflow to keep the helicopter airborne.

Hanging bombs usual for booby traps.

In Urdu and Arabic one of his team mates on the raid said,

“Khaleed come here.”
Khaleed, “What?”

Last words he ever said.

Me. I actually laughed at this, because it’s just horrific but also absurd that this was how Osama’s son met his end, and how they were able to gain the upper hand on him.

They found a whole bunch of opium too. And basically found a personal bank.

EKIA = Enemy Killed In Action.

Somebody live tweeted the raid.

Stealth bird

Need to watch the Captain Phillips movie as well.

They were all awarded silver stars. The near killing yourself act of valour. (according to the author)

Presidential Unit Citation.
What is that?
They got given this by Obama.

He was 34 years at the time.

On women in the military or in combat, says any woman that can go through the same training has the right to be there.

L ambush.

About the raid. All the electricity was cut to the compound before the raid.

So they have that capability.

Watched a video about the helicopter and they said that people from Pakistan likely carted the remains of the helicopter off to China to be replicated.

Me. That’s pretty crazy.

Says one of the reasons he decided to get out was because he was getting complacent. And knew that he might start to get sloppy.

He was involved in around 400 combat missions.

There’s a Navy exit group.

“Thanks for your service…Now beat it”

Me. Wow. That’s pretty crazy & cold.

He said he gave a speech at the September 11 memorial. Meant to be a very honest from the heart speech.

Me. See if I can get it.

Not the speech, apparently it wasn’t filmed. Yet this is him talking about it. (starts at 1:08)

“We’re all here to do something special”