May 3, 2011— -- As Navy SEAL Team 6 closed in on its prey -- Osama bin Laden -- it likely entered the battle armed with the best weapons and technology available to soldiers anywhere in the world, a military expert and former Navy SEAL fighter told ABC News.
"The dogs of war were finally turned loose to do what they were designed to do," Richard Marcinko, a former Navy commander, told ABC News. And these "dogs" carry some serious firepower.
Although tactical details of Sunday's mission remain unconfirmed, ABC News spoke with a former Navy SEAL sniper to learn what equipment and tech toys SEAL teams usually use to take down a target.
"The organizations we're talking about have the resources to get any weapon systems they think are necessary to do the job, and they will bring [anything] they think will give them the greatest advantage in that moment," Richard "Mac" Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL sniper and the host of Spike TV's "Deadliest Warrior," told ABC News. "If they get it, and they like it, they'll use it."
The Blackhawk helicopters that carried them to the scene not only hold missiles and large caliber guns but provide a lookout platform.
"SEALs have developed the ability to send very accurate fire from helicopters," Machowicz said.
Those snipers would have available highly customized rifles tailored to that particular battlefield, he said. Machowicz told ABC News that when he was a sniper, he essentially had eight different sniper rifles tailored to different scenarios.
The SEAL's ground weapons were likely highly specialized too. "The mission dictates the target, the target dictates the weapons and the weapons dictate how they're used," Machowicz said. In the bin Laden scenario, the SEALs would have likely used short-barrel weapons -- such as a shortened M4 or AR-15 assault rifle -- that allow them to easily maneuver in and out of doors, hallways and vehicles.
Machowicz speculates those guns used a large bullet type. "There are new weapons systems that fire the .45 caliber [round] that allows you to deliver a lot more kinetic energy, and you don't need to worry about overpenetration on the target."
Recent advances in weapons systems have even led to the creation of .50 caliber rounds, such as the "Beowolf" for assault rifles, which can penetrate a car engine block from range.
In the sky, in-atmosphere satellites (such as predator drones) and space-based satellites convey information to the troops on the ground. Helmet-mounted cameras, which were reportedly worn during the mission to capture bin Laden, also transmitted information to commanders back at base and to the situation room in Washington.
This helps the soldiers on the ground to quickly identify their targets, pick up every threat and take them down fast.
The lookout platform from the Blackhawks is extremely important, as the ground soldiers were most likely not using night-vision goggles. "All of the rehearsals for this were most likely done at night so target identification would be natural," said Machowicz. "You don't want to just have night vision on the guys' faces, because the changing light conditions could change how you are able to use that. ... You don't want guys messing with their night vision when they're supposed to be taking out targets."
Suppressers, which are built into most modern-day weapons, would have also likely been made available to SEAL Team 6. Contrary to popular perception, they not only provide a stealth advantage but also help the team communicate once the bullets start flying. Anyone who has been on a gun range can tell you, gunshots are loud.
A SEAL's Tool Kit Includes the Flash Bang Stun Grenade
That means the fancy radios used to get everyone in place until the mission starts get replaced with low-tech out loud shouting once the firing begins and stealth is no longer an option.
"Once you get that go! And the pops start happening and the gunfire goes, you no longer have to pretend you're moving quietly. ... What better way to communicate with the guy down the hall or behind you than to just scream the information out?"
One of the other useful tools in a SEAL's kit is the flash bang, or stun grenade. This device works similar to a regular grenade but is nonlethal, while still producing a disorienting amount of sound and light. Volume, noise and power allow you to dominate a room.
"SEALs want to physically and mentally dominate that space from the moment they enter," says Machowicz. "Now what happens, when you're startled, anything that guy does to you just seems so much faster."