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April 13, 2009
More Imminent DangerBy Greyhawk
I actually wrote the Imminent Danger post last night, finished it rather late and decided to post it this AM. I tweaked it a bit on waking and published, but have since found two additional bits of data that add much to the discussion.
To those in a moment, first, when I watched the press conference, what stood out in my mind were the repeated references to these three points:
1. The hostage was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him
2. The hostage was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him, and
3. The hostage was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him.
Add to that the number of times Admiral Gortney mentioned that Captain Phillips was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him and I couldn't help but notice that it was awfully important to him to make sure that we knew that Captain Phillips was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him in case somehow someone overlooked the fact that Captain Phillips was in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him. (At his back even, where he himself couldn't even see it!)
As noted in the post I wrote about Captain Phillips in imminent danger with an AK47 pointed at him, it 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.
Which brings us to the two additional items found today.
Item one: the first official DoD story on the rescue of Captain Phillips:
Hostage Captain Was in 'Imminent Danger' at Time of RescueWithin which I perceived a subtle emphasis on the fact that Hostage Captain Was in 'Imminent Danger' at Time of Rescue (but maybe that's just me).
The Defense Department twice sought Mr. Obama's permission to use force to rescue Captain Phillips, most recently on Friday night, senior defense officials said. On Saturday morning, the president agreed, they said, if it appeared that the captain's life was in imminent danger.Apparently the Friday answer was just "no" (or maybe "hell no"), the Saturday response was "well okay, but only if he's in imminent danger - that definition apparently not being met by his mere hostage status*.
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.- a point that I think bears repeating here given new information now on hand.
I'd now like to expand what I think my interpretation is: someone wanted pirates "arrested", not killed. The desired outcome was apparently a demonstration that a guided missile destroyer and an amphibious assault ship with 2000 Marines and an FBI hostage negotiation team can do a lot more than a guided missile destroyer and an amphibious assault ship with 2000 Marines and no FBI hostage negotiation team. They got at least 1/4 of their wish (though the status of the hostage negotiations and location of the team at time of termination is uncertain) - I hope that works out for them (or is it us?).
And I'll close for now by repeating myself again:
...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.
*Update/footnote: A senior administration official "clarifies" the claims of Pentagon officials: "A senior administration official told FOX News that Obama granted the authority on Friday and Saturday to use appropriate force to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips from a lifeboat off the Somali coast. The Pentagon believed Phillips' life was at risk both times, officials said."
Back to the NY Times story linked above for a memory jogger:
By Friday, with several warships within easy reach of the lifeboat, the negotiations had gone nowhere. Captain Phillips jumped into the sea, but was quickly recaptured. On Saturday, the pirates fired several shots at a small boat that had approached from the Bainbridge.Really? On both these occasions the on-scene commander had to call the Pentagon to get them to ask the White House if they could act? And the Saturday answer - with the Navy crew under fire - was "only if it appeared that the captain's life was in imminent danger?
As fellow Iraq vet Dave Thul asks in comments, "The ROE in Iraq gives every young private the authority to use deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily harm to civilians. Why did the President need to give specific authority to the CO of the Bainbridge to do the very same thing?"
Because he (or an underling) wasn't authorizing - he was restricting. Thank God they had an Easter miracle and were smart enough not to call again. This situation was a classic goatf$%k. Kudos to everyone on the scene who made it turn out right. And kudos to the Admiral for ensuring no one on high could second guess the decision made on the other side of the world. At least it worked this time.
Next: The Sims
Posted by Greyhawk / April 13, 2009 4:02 PM | Permalink
I don't have time or software to make a totally sweet simulation of the 21st Century Easter Miracle, but I think I can fairly quickly paint a word-picture that's at least equally accurate. Here goes: Fade in - a mousy looking guy in a suit stands on th... Read More
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 seen a copy yet you probably will. There'... 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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Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com