ISLAMABAD - The presence of US helicopters in the sky of Abbottabad was first noted around at 0025 hours, the leaked report of Abbottabad Commission said.
It said that some other accounts say the sound of helicopters was picked up a little later. This could easily be explained by the different locations of people who heard the helicopters. At 0025 hours, the report further said that the sound heard would have been of the incoming black hawk helicopters.
Given that the US Navy Seals were in the air and on the ground in Abbottabad cantonment for over 40 minutes and then took another hour or more to exit Pakistani air space there was obviously a real risk that they could be detected and engaged.
How sure could the Americans have been that their operation would not be interrupted during this length of time?, Did the US leadership do nothing to reduce the risk of detention and engagement? The inability to spot the low flying helicopters over Abbotatbad cantonment was a major failure. Right from the beginning it should have been clear that there were more than one helicopter in the sky.
Both of them could not have developed technical problem at the same time. They were also unlikely to be Pakistani helicopters which did not usually fly at night. The significance of these questions is that they suggest the response of ‘Quick Reaction Force’ and ‘FF-19’ on the ground and the PAF in the air should have been much quicker.