Norfolk, VA--Lt. Kyle Campbell trusted he made the right decision nearly two weeks ago, as high-tech U.S. military helicopters carried the elite Navy SEALs team out of Afghanistan and into neighboring Pakistan. We all know how the bin Laden raid turned out, but Campbell, one of the leaders of the mission, nervously watched a 64-inch monitor from an undisclosed American base in the Afghan countryside.
"I was really hoping that I made the right decision," said Campbell, about his choice to use the Navy SEALs. "I'm not a nail-biting person, but I really had no fingernails left at the end of that day. I must have urinated six times in the hour before our crew set out."
Several months ago, when the Navy was preparing for the raid on the Al-Qaeda leader's compound, the Lieutenant was put in a very difficult position--the old rock and a hard place. As most know (or at least know now), the Navy has two elite forces that were capable of successfully completing such a top secret mission: the SEALs and the M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S.
Though the two forces respect each other, there is a fierce competition to be labeled the more elite, talented group of the Navy branch of the military. There is strong lobbying by leaders of each force to be awarded the most difficult missions in the most random, far off corners of the globe.
The M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S., which stands for Martial Arts Ninjas And Trained Experienced Experts and Safety, are known for their meticulous attention to detail and implementation of overzealous safety precautions. Their missions often take longer and require more manpower than the SEALS, but the results are often perfection.
"The SEALs are good," said retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the U.S. forces during the first Gulf War in the early 1990's, "but if I had to choose one group to get me out of trouble in a hostile environment, I'd have to go with the M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. I don't mean any disrespect to the SEALs. Those M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. sure can take there time and complete a mission within an inch of a dime."
The M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. have slowly started to open up about being passed over for the "mission of a lifetime." Several members have taken a leave of absence, while others have used the press to air their grievances with Lt. Campbell and the SEALs.
"I don't want to be a sore loser, but we should have been the ones to go," said one M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. who only identified himself as Sgt. Ass-kicking. "We would have completed the mission and returned ... most likely in a day or two. But, we would have brought back all of the helicopters. So ..."
"We're just much more laid-back about the missions than the SEALs," said Third Lt. M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. Carl Rendt. "We take our time, but it pays off in the end. We just kind of chill out on our tasks. What's the rush, dude? I'm upset because we also got passed over to rescue the ship captain that was captured by the Somali pirates last year. That should have been us, too."
Other members of the group half-heartedly backed Campbell's enormously tough decision.
"Although I feel that Campbell really screwed us over, I feel like he made the right decision," said another M.A.N.A.T.E.E.S. who offered the comment on condition of anonymity. "We like to set up shop and really take our time. We probably would have had a little cookout in the compound courtyard before leaving. And this seemed like a mission for a quick-strike team, even though their mistakes were numerous. I wrote them all down."