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April 12, 2009
Pirate RescueBy Greyhawk
The latest: Pentagon briefing from Navy Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, 4 p.m. EDT Sunday 12 April 2009:
Having seen this - more updates below.
American sea Captain Richard Phillips was safely rescued Sunday from four Somali pirates, who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a U.S. intelligence official said.Thanks to Marvin in comments for the heads-up.
Heh: "Captain jumps overboard, SEALs shoot pirates, official says". "Heh" because if the shooters were SEALs, there were probably four shots fired, and the guy who only wounded his target will never hear the end of it.
Unless there were only three shots fired. That's respectable.
Update - Cap'n Phillips of Underhill looks good:
Maersk-Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, right, stands alongside Cmdr. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by pirates. (Official U.S. Navy photo)
And here's the brief press release from CENTCOM
MANAMA, Bahrain - At approximately 7:19 p.m (12:19 p.m. EDT) U.S. naval forces rescued Capt. Richard Phillips, the master of Motor Vessel Maersk-Alabama.Update 2: One thing that's clear from having seen the briefing - this has been one of the worst examples of reporting a major story I've seen in a long time. From the beginning rumors have been reported as fact - one of the reasons the first report done here on the topic was titled "Initial Reports are always Wrong". That point was lost on those covering this subsequently.
Apparently the fourth pirate wasn't wounded in the shootout (I wasn't joking when I said I was surprised a SEAL had failed on a kill shot) - and had apparently "jumped ship", abandoning his three companions and "joining" the US Navy. That might not be accurate either, but what seems certain is that he was in Navy custody when the shooting started. That begs the question, is this the same pirate who was 'captured' by the crew of the Maersk? Which in turn leads to a question regarding his voluntary status as pirate in the first place. Thus far no one has asked any question along these lines whatsoever, even though other reports I've seen indicate this pirate is 16 years old.
The first thought I had on his disposition: give him a tour of the Boxer, have him meet the Marines and see their toys, ask him where his home is and put him ashore. Tell him to pass along to his elders that next time anything like this happens nearby those Marines will be downtown within a couple of hours.
All the talk among the talking heads on TV after the briefing: Hooray, we're going to bring this pirate to America, try him in court in New York where he faces up to a life sentence.
Again, we're far from the full story here. But there might be much more to this pirate's story than we now know.
And Glenn Reynolds is right: the underlying problem remains unsolved.
For my part, I wonder if they'll consider arming crews now? Four pirates can overwhelm a ship crewed by 20+, grab a hostage, and keep the US Navy and two thousand Marines tied up for days? How many such victories can we expect in the future?
Not to discount the very real heroics involved here, and I love this story as much as anyone - but how about we don't hit the snooze button now?
More - Fox News now reporting breaking news: "three simultaneous kill shots to the head!!!". Amazed, they are.
By the way - SEALs aren't the only human beings capable of such shootin' - just sayin'.
Final thought (for now): Bad timing, and all that - how many times do you think we'll see this event referenced in the upcoming defense budget debates as justification for this or that project whose importance is obvious only now? And who will win the prize for stretching that point the farthest?
Posted by Greyhawk / April 12, 2009 2:19 PM | Permalink
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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