Free Markets, Free People

SEALS 4, Pirates 0 – Final

Some form of strange aquatic life, not native to the coast of Somalia, helped Captain Richard Phillips escape his pirate captives. He’s now safe aboard the USS Bainbridge.

The pirates? Not so good:

The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.

You knew it was coming – you just wondered when.

My guess is remaining pirates will now immediately go to remedial flag identification class and learn the difference between the US flag and the flag of Panama.


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28 Responses to SEALS 4, Pirates 0 – Final

  • Gotta give Obama his due.  The Right has been hammering him for being “soft on piracy” lately, and now, in true television-drama fashion, the bad-asses went in, the pirates are dead or captured and the American hostage goes free.

  • To the shores of Tripoli …

    (yeah, Marines /= SEALS, I know, but still)

  • Both Barack Obama and the Navy SEALS did what they were expeated to due.   Bravo Zulu gentlemen.

  • There are a lot of American crews on Panama-flagged vessels, too.

  • “You knew it was coming – you just wondered when.”

    Sadly no, I didn’t know it was coming.  I certainly hoped it was, but I had zero faith that the pusillanimous parvenu president would have the  stones to actually do it.  However, I’m happy to see he didn’t live down to my low expectations.  This time.

  • Finally, The Clown™ did something right. Score: 40 wrong, 1 right.

    Still, I think he was pushing into doing this. He looks to me like the people we knew in high school who were pushed around yet continued to look as if they were in charge of the situation. We called them the “class p*ssies.” Except that The Clown™ usually is the “P*ssy-in-Chief.”

    But we will see. Let’s see what he does with North Korea and Iran. That will the true test of what he says he wants to do (defend American interests) and what he ACTUALLY does (defend his own p*ssified record).

  • Whatever TAO did here, he did with the greatest reluctance. Had he let 4 terr-er “pirates” in a freaking lifeboat get away with killing the captain after the -crew -had liberated there own ship, even his own Mansonesque followers might have gotten a clue.

  • Not sure what the Administration really did here except to give the forces onsite permission to engage targets that constituted a threat to an American citizen.

    Sounds like the least they could do to me.

    The shots were taken at 50m or less, literally chip shots for any trained marksman with a rifle and scope and probably easier than that for trained snipers.  The touchy spot would be the coordination of all three shooters; ie they all had to wait until all three targets offered a shot at the same time.  Frankly, I’m not buying the story about imminent danger to the captive (and this is not meant to denigrate anyone involved).  Rather, I think it’s a way of saying ‘hey, we had to wait until we could target all in the raft at the same time.’

    I would suspect 1, 2, or 3 of the targets were exposed at various times, but you can’t take that shot. You have to wait until you get all of them at the same time.

    The point of this is once the onsite commander got the go ahead to engage the targets, it was a matter of waiting until you could get all the targets at the same time, or attempting to create a situation that would maximize the opportunities of that happening. 

  • I will be curious to see the rest of the details about the operation… and how TAO spins it.  Is it a case that he ordered the Navy to rescue the captain and erase his captors?  Seems unlikely since one of the pirates was aboard the Bainbridge, apparently negotiating with her captain.  Or is it the case, as McQ‘s follow-up post indicates, that TAO merely told the Navy to try to rescue the captive and the on-scene commander, exercizing common sense and some guts, ordered his men to shoot the pirates before they could harm their hostage?

    At any rate, I would have thought that TAO would have spent a lot more time negotiating.  After all, “persistence” is his motto in diplomacy, right?  Further, the Navy shooting the pirates (while eminently satisfying to many of us) clearly violates his ideals that such operations are LAW ENFORCEMENT matters, not military.  Did he ask the FBI agents on-scene to try to arrest the pirates first?  Does anybody know if they were mirandized?  Did our use of force pass a global test?  Did we have UN approval?  Will Spain or Belgium or some other p*ss-ant country want to try our sailors for use of excessive force or violating the pirates’ human rights?

    Snark aside, I’m glad that this has ended up as it did, though mildly disappointed that it took so long.  Hopefully, we will hang the last pirate and get the military to clean out their nests so that freedom of the seas will be restored.

  • … did something right….

    Um…. no.
    I’m on my Palm, Treo, and so I can’t really do a decent response, but neither can I let this go without comment and rebuttal. So, I’ll take the unusual step of pointing to my write up of this morning, in answer to the charge of Obama being competent.

  • “it didn’t take so long”…it took as long as was required.
    1) I’m betting the USS Bainbridge doesn’t carry a SEAL detachment. So they had to be rounded up and placed on board. No point in asking or expecting the Bainbridge crew to “liberate” the captain, not if the pirates and captain aren’t going anywhere.
    2)It took time to attempt to negotiate and to prep the SEALS.
    3) When the SEALS where in place, ready with their plan, and negotiations had failed; it happened.

    To me, it took as long as it needed to take…

    Bravo to the Navy and to the POTUS.

  • “To me, it took as long as it needed to take…”

    So now we are praising him for exhibiting the absolute minimum competency for his job? To quote Mr. Chris Rock, “should we give him a cookie for that?”

    In the old, bold, days of the USN, the sailors on board the warships (or, at the very least, the frigging Marine contingents on board) would have been perfectly capable of terminating this ridiculous drama long ago and by themselves. This is less of a “victory” and more of a harbinger of the oncoming humiliation that our Armed Forces are going to suffer under this twonk. Just look to the RN’s humiliation at the hands of the Iranians to see where this will ultimately end up.

    • Of course its easy to second guess a situation of which you know nothing about, isn’t it?

      Captain rescued, pirates dead, all-in-all a very successful outcome. Why isn’t that good enough?

      • Because the way it got played, at WH direction was as likely to lose the hostage as save him, Bruce.

        • Really? Given the outcome, I see no evidence to support that assertion.

          • Well, look… the standing ROE gave (Gives?) the field commander the right to deal independantly with the priates IF there was an immediate threat to the hostages.  Thus we see the hostage with the gun to the back of his head execution style just prior to the take down.

            Obama’s action should have been to order their taking even absent that ROE requirement.  He did not.  My read is that the result, while good, is a matter of luck, and not leadership on the part of Obama. Now, before we get Erb in here, screaming about how I was desperate for Obama’s failure and thereby the death of Phillips,  I’m saying Obama DID fail, even absent that death. 

              Actually, I’m delighted at the outcome, as much as I would be if my five year old had flushed my money down the john, and it all floated back up. That doesn’t mean the path to the result was at all desireable or correct, or that my five year old deserves praise for his actions. In much the same way, we all got lucky, bigtime, here.  But that’s not a function of the White House and their inaction. Sorry.

          • Unless he rescinded what you call the “standing ROE” I don’t see your point. And I certainly don’t see it in any way as a “failure”.

            While it is probably true that they could have taken out one or two of the pirates prior to when they finally took action, doing so would put the hostages life in much more danger than waiting for the shot in which they could take all three. As you might imagine, that most likely wasn’t a very common occurrence. So, absent a reason to do otherwise, you wait for the situation which will least likely risk the hostage’s life. They finally got it, and when they did, everything they needed, in terms of authorization and authority, was apparently in place.

            That’s how it should be – and it was.

            Kudos to all.

          • It appears you and Jimbo at Black Five have at least some minor disagreements. As Jimbo put it:

            Hello White House, this is Commander Smith in the Gulf of Aden can I speak to President Obama?……Yes Ma’am I realize it’s 3 am….Oh hello Mrs. Obama is the President around? We have kind of an urgent situation here…..Oh, he’s walking the puppy. Well could you get a message to him, we need permission to……..BAKOW! Oh crap Ma’am, they shot him, never mind.

            And I was of the idea that deadly force was always acceptable, even absent CinC permission, in life threatening situations. This was certainly that.

            (Chuckle)I noted Fred Thompson just now, offering a possible reason for them asking twice; they wanted to make sure he meant it the first time.

          • Uncle J knows how it works just as well as I do. And what he outlines there isn’t even close. He’s being a bit facetious and loose with the process for reasons only Uncle J understands.

            As I said, when you push up on a non-standard situation, there are no ‘blanket’ anything. You act in accordance and with the permission of your commander-in-chief’s guidance, and that’s usually only given after he’s been apprised of the situation and its ramifications.

            I stood on 14th Street in Washington DC in the early ’70s as a part of the 82nd Airborne Division guarding the Treasury building from the May Day rioters. In the back of a jeep trailer we had a few cases of 5.56 ball ammunition in case the use of lethal force was necessary. We were briefed that the cases of ammo would only be opened upon the direct order of the President of the United States (Richard Nixon) and only used by his direct authorization. Pretty tight reins, but perfectly understandable. The situation in Somalia isn’t that dissimilar – non-standard mission, intel gathered, briefing presented, guidance and orders given, execute.

            Seems to have worked perfectly despite all the grumbling on the right.

    • I’m with McQ on this….I don’t think most US Warships carry a Marine Detachment anymore, so there were no Marines to use.  Sure if this was a situation that called for a spliced line or a bowline, or firing a Harpoon missile, or using the Towed Array, or prosecuting an submarine hunt, or firing a Standard Missile, or firing the 12.7 cm main gun, the crew of the Bainbridge is your first choice.  But you want a small boat/sniper action…not so much.  The Navy DOESN’T DO that…just like I wouldn’t call on the 173rd Airborne Brigade to blockade Somalia, I wouldn’t call on the US Navy to shoot someone with a rifle, UNLESS that Navy Person was wearing the “Budweiser” Trident.
      Yeah we can give Obama the minimum credit…Jim-Muh Carter blew it in Iran…Clinton got an aspirin factory…yeah credit where credit’s due…Obama’s crew got this right.
      I’m a little intrigued by the pirates declaring “war” as it were on France and the US…I mean if they are going to merciless, then why ought merchant mariners comply with their demands?  It’s always been risk management…we don’t fight because fighting entails great risk…IF non-fighting entails the same risk, THEN you might as well fight…which makes the pirate’s lives just that much harder.  Me, as a pirate, I’d just say, “Oh well, you win some you lose some.”  And emphasize in the next pirate training/refresher course that we must keep control of the whole crew and vacate the premises well before the arrival of the “Coppers”…I’d simply point out that Ahmed and Said made some critical errors in their Maersk Alabama operation and that WE would not be repeating those errors.  And that failure to correct these errors would lead to significant downside in regards to continued retention in the Pirates Aaaarrrrrrr’ Us Corporation and certainly would affect the end-of-the-year bonuses. 

  • Some kind if limits were placed on them, else they’d not have had to ask twice for permission to act.

    • The only “limit” may have been one of SOP that required seeking permission to use deadly force in non-standard situations. A perfectly reasonable limitation.

  • Well as I say, yes, it did work, and I’m delighted… but spare me the ‘Obama did it right speeches… it worked well not because of him, but in SPITE of him.

    There’s another aspect of this, I want to broach… and it approaches the spin issues. Obama gambled, In my view, an unacceptable gamble. 
    If it all works, Obama gets to look like a peacemaker, and looks like a water walker again.… if the Navy manages to pull the extraction of Phillips off without a shot.  Now as it happens we had a commander in the filed with the stones to take the initiative. And, thank God for that.

    But think; If conditions cause a failure in any way, does Obama take the hit, or does the military? You know as well as I, Obama’s not going to get any blame for a failure, here.  And I’m supposed to sit back and smile and credit Obama for ANY of this? Sorry, no.  I won’t do it. As with his financial dealings, the bill will eventually come due on this one.