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April 13, 2009
"Imminent Danger"By Greyhawk
That phrase sounds familiar... I've heard it somewhere before. Maybe it'll come to me later. For now, onward.
It's not about Obama.
By "it's" I mean this post, and the story behind it. But the story is that there are those who want to make the story about Obama. Some - from about 15 minutes after it began - wanted to blame him for piracy and compare the situation to Jimmy Carter and the Iranian Hostage crisis. Now that it's over, many seek to credit him for its conclusion. Some are in the AP:
The operation, personally approved by President Barack Obama, quashed fears the saga could drag on for months and marked a victory for the U.S., which for days seemed powerless to resolve the crisis despite massing helicopter-equipped warships at the scene.That's fair enough as a neener neener neener response to an argument that was equally pathetic in the first place, but now that all's well that ends well, what lessons can we learn?
Let's roll video...
Q Admiral, Justine again from FOX, it's been reported that the order to take action came from President Obama. Is that accurate, did the order come from the top, and would you say that action was needed because the ship was getting closer to shore? Was that also another reason that the timing was now for this rescue effort?Admiral Gortney, in fact, had to stress this point repeatedly:
ADM GORTNEY: I want to make one thing perfectly clear, that the on-scene commander determined that the captain was in imminent danger. If he was not in imminent danger, they were not to take this sort of action they were supposed to let the negotiation process work it out.Because, under orders, "If he was not in imminent danger, they were not to take this sort of action."
Seems to me Captain Phillips was in imminent danger from the moment armed pirates boarded his ship - but I'm no expert on the fine points of law of the sea. But the following point was stressed repeatedly throughout that press conference, too:
Q One more brief follow-up. And that imminent danger as you seemed to say earlier was that the captain, in fact, had an ak-47 aimed at him when this went down.I think my interpretation is that there's a legal counsel somewhere just outside the picture who placed an awfully restrictive ROE on the folks involved in this effort. Into exactly what ear he whispered this advice I have no idea. But even with highly skilled operators at the ready, the odds of having all three pirates on a covered lifeboat available for a ranged headshot from one pitching deck to another in less than optimum light made by passive snipers at the exact moment an AK47 is pointed at Captain Phillip's back must have seemed remote even to the most optimistic on-scene commander coordinating the delicate negotiations and hoping that a resort to violent gunplay wouldn't become necessary.
Fortunately, Made For TV Easter Miracle!
But the trio of Navy Seals who had been secretly dropped into the sea over the weekend and taken aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Bainbridge, were steely. They strapped on night vision goggles and zeroed in their targets, three pirates on a red lifeboat floating on the rough seas, including one pirate who was pointing an AK-47at the back of Capt. Richard Phillips.Praise Jesus.
Again - this is not about President Obama. It's about Rules of Engagement, and future consideration of similar events that might not occur during major religious holidays when miraculous (whether SEALs are involved or not) outcomes are expected and (wink) accepted.
Update: ""The on-scene commander" - an ingeniously ambiguous construct" - heh , I noticed that too, and took it to mean the same thing that Lex did - and that the reporters didn't. A minor point, perhaps - but everything about the presser was ingeniously ambiguous to my aged-in-service ears.
But great minds, and all that:"Piracy ought not become a political issue, because it's not going away anytime soon..." Exactly right - though I suspect we share an understanding of "ought not" also.
Update: More Imminent Danger
Posted by Greyhawk / April 13, 2009 11:00 AM | Permalink
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a ... Read More
Update: mystery 90% solved, see below. That headline above (another version "Subject: The Behind the Scenes News on the Gulf of Aden Pirate Take-Down") is the subject line from an email that's making the rounds. So yes - I've seen it. If you haven't se... Read More
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...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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