The elite military personnel who took part in the May 1 raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden are to receive additional protection in light of al Qaeda threats to avenge the terrorist leader's death, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
He told Marines during a town hall at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that members of Navy SEAL Team 6 expressed concerns about security, "and particularly with respect to their families," when he met with them last week.
The identities of SEALs and other special forces personnel are kept secret as a matter of policy, but details about the dramatic operation in Pakistan have filtered out.
"There is an awareness that the threat of retaliation is increased because of the action against Bin Laden," Gates said in response to a question about the safety of Team 6.
"Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the (White House) Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out Bin Laden," the secretary said, referring to himself, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top national security officials.
"That all fell apart on Monday - the next day," Gates acknowledged.
Even so, he said, the administration has made "a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid, and I think that has to continue."
"I can't get into the details in this forum, but we are looking at what measures can be taken to pump up the security," for SEAL Team 6 and their families, Gates told the Marines.