Bin Laden reaction: Marine general is glad Al Qaeda leader is 'in hell' but warns of decades-long war
Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly led Marines into Baghdad and Tikrit in 2003 and Fallouja in early 2004 and later served a year as the top Marine in Afghanistan. Now he's a top military aide to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Marine Capt. John Kelly, the oldest son of the general and his wife, Karen, served in combat in Iraq. And the younger son, Marine Lt. Robert Kelly, also served in combat there as an enlisted Marine, including during the bloody fight in Fallouja in late 2004.
On Nov. 9, Robert Kelly, 29, was killed while leading a patrol in the Sangin district of Afghanistan. He was with the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment: one of 25 Marines killed during the battalion's seven-month deployment.
Like most other Americans, the Kelly family is pleased at Osama bin Laden's fate. But the general warns that the fight against Al Qaeda is long from finished.
"He's in hell now with the rest of his kind," Kelly said. "That said, Al Qaeda has metastasized and is a many-headed snake -- so killing Osama will weaken but not eliminate the threat of extremism against America and the world."
"This is a decades-long war that will ebb and flow. We will succeed only so long as we don't run out of the kind of men like the ones Sunday night that are willing to go into the darkest and most dangerous places on Earth and hunt down and kill those who would do us harm."
As for the young people celebrating the news in front of the White House and Times Square, Kelly says they were "carrying on like fools" and "might consider making a real difference and joining the Marines or Army and lending a hand."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: The Kellys, from left, Kathleen, John, Karen, Robert, and John F. Kelly. Credit: Kelly family