NGA Plays Critical Role in bin Laden Raid
But this operation may have never happened, much less been conducted successfully, if it wasn’t for the work of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). According to a senior NGA analyst, who spoke to POB on condition of anonymity, the U.S. intelligence community did not know the exact location of bin Laden’s suspected hideout until the NGA was able to find it.
“Geospatial [intelligence] really became a very significant part [of the mission] actually,” the analyst says, adding that the information the NGA produced was “certainly critical to the operation.”
Though the NGA had participated in the United States’ hunt for bin Laden for many years, the analyst says the agency most recently became in involved in the late summer and early fall of 2010. At that time, the NGA took intelligence gathered from other agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, and began to search for the location where bin Laden was suspected to be hiding.
Though the successful operation to find bin Laden was a significant milestone for both the United States and the NGA, the analyst says it’s merely a very public example of the geospatial intelligence work they do behind the scenes all the time. “It’s a great opportunity to get out in the open and show what we’re able to do,” the analyst says.
Letitia A. Long, director of the NGA, says the agency was honored to be public servants participating in this operation.
“I am extremely proud of the work that NGA men and women have done that led directly to this outcome,” Long said. “Their [geospatial intelligence] was critical to helping the intelligence community pinpoint bin Laden’s compound.”
“The fact that we were able to contribute to such a successful outcome is truly satisfying,” the analyst said.