Last night at work we received a call from a member of the public saying that two helicopters had flown over a neighbouring property and one of them had crashed nearby and then blown up. Then twenty-four blokes abseiled onto the roof of the address and a few shots were heard inside.
In the control room, the tactical inspector asked for background checks on the caller, in particular any record of them on the mental health database. Then intelligence checks on the address, only the caller wasn't sure exactly which house was targeted only that it had a big high wall around it and the family kept themselves to themselves.
After ten minutes, the inspector decided to get some Armed Response Vehicles into the area, but had them hold off a few miles away waiting for instructions. When the second and third calls came in, reporting loud noises in the air and gunfire, the ARVs were told to wait while a local unit did a drive-by in a marked car to try and confirm the account. From half a mile away, the neighbourhood beat officer reported seeing smoke and a military helicopter hovering over a property not far from the local army training school.
The ARVs were stood down and the control room got on the phone to the training school - no, they had no exercises running. Next they phoned the army itself - no, they weren't aware of any drills or operations taking place in that area of Blandshire. Finally the call went in to the SAS, who said they'd get back to us. Half an hour had now passed.
Some local units put on a wide containment around the area, waiting for instructions. After a further fifteen minutes they reported seeing one helicopter lift off and fly away. It didn't appear to be a British chopper either.
The SAS scrambled their own helicopters and fast response teams, getting them in the air within twenty minutes. But they still arrived nearly two hours after the action from the nearest army base with that kind of emergency call-out capability. At which point they were miffed to find people with gunshot wounds and the extended family of an internationally-renowned terrorist.
OK, this didn't happen in Blandshire. But it's my best projection of how we might respond if it did. And that's assuming anyone would dial 999 at all - I think most Britons would assume this kind of operation was ratified by the government.
Pakistan got its military teams to the site near Abbottabad within the hour, just missing the US Seals flying off with Osama bin Laden's body. Pakistan is much bigger than Britain.
Thoughts? Comments? I know where my money is.
- Pakistan has action-ready SWAT teams all over the country, to deploy to such an incident at a moment's notice.
- The US phoned up as the mission started - though that would still make it a quick response.
- Pakistan knew of and approved the operation, but can't admit it for fear of civil unrest. The charade being played out now in the media is just that, and it's the price America agreed to pay for getting OBL.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.