16 April 2009


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 17 April 2009

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

There’s no better quote to begin this comment. Orwell’s words perfectly summarize last weekend’s safe return of an American merchant marine captain held captive for five days on a piece of flotsam—of sorts—disguised as a powerless lifeboat. Running out of gas—good head work gents—was the beginning of the end for four wayward Somali young men playing a serious game for which they were ill trained and equipped. The best-that-could-be-hoped-for outcome should give ranting left wing loons in this country something to think about. That is—how fortunate they are to live under the protective umbrella of the United States and her phenomenal military—a cadre of brave men and women who voluntarily and quietly go about doing the dirty work that must be done to ensure the safety and security of a free nation. Now to the story…

What happens when an untrained group of young, stupid hoodlums armed with heavy weapons face off against highly trained and skilled warfighters? Death, death, and death. Less than a week ago the U. S. Navy and their elite SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) did exactly what they are trained to do—they executed to perfection—bringing a tense American held hostage at sea situation to closure—with a happy ending.

The Somali pirates—make that “terrorists” and in this case “teenage terrorists”—are not even close to resembling the glamorized swashbuckling, eye-patched, peg-legged, grog-swigging, parrot-toting devil may care characters of fiction—those brought to life by Robert Louis Stevenson in “Treasure Island” or aggrandized in oil paintings by famed American artist N.C. Wyeth. Stevenson’s prose and Wyeth’s paintings captured drama and stirred the fantasies of many a young boy—daydreaming about sailing the seven seas, a Jolly Roger run up the halyard and wind-whipped forewarning of attack, boarding and hi-jacking ships, close range gun battles and clanging sword fights, and capturing stores and treasure chests overflowing with gold and silver doubloons and gems of every color and shape. Colorful images to be sure. But there never was and never will be anything romantic or noble about piracy on the high seas.

How in the world can rag tag gangs of thieves hold ships, crews, businesses, and nations hostage for absurd bounties of cash? It makes little sense. Yet years of payoffs have bolstered boldness and brazenness—and pirates along the Somali coast have expanded their “business” as if it were a legitimate enterprise without competition or serious challengers. But attacking an American flagged vessel and holding its captain hostage to hornswaggle ransom proved to be a mistake—a huge mistake.

Last week a quartet of Somali pirates carried on with their raiding party business-as-usual antics and, once again, they attacked a merchant cargo ship—only this time the ship was sailing under the colors of the United States and with an American crew. And unlike the colors of many countries these scurvy dogs have successfully shaken down for cash—the red, white, and blue of the Stars and Stripes do not succumb to threat or blackmail or run; they never have. Settling for the “voluntary” surrender of the ship’s captain as their quarry for ransom, the punks had no reason to believe this episode of high seas hi-jinx would render anything less than the millions they have been raking in for years—making the loot of their centuries past role models look like pocket change.

The psychology behind their decision to confront the United States would make for interesting discussion; if anyone cared. But clearly on one front they decided time was ripe to test the character of our new President. What would he do? Their miscalculation was failing to understand they would push President Obama into a corner—trap him leaving no choice but to take aggressive action. Accordingly, it did not take long for the President to realize the obvious—only military action was going to end this drama. Had he not authorized such, his message to the world would have been an open invitation—“Come one, come all”—we are an easy mark for any two-bit punks wanting to spit in our eye. Rest assured punks are now head-scratching and reconsidering.

This one the President handled right. Ideally, his order to Secretary of Defense Gates was simple and clear: “Mr. Secretary, get Captain Richard Phillips back alive. Kill the pirates. Let me know when it’s over. And, next week be prepared to present and discuss options for delivering a crushing blow to end this nonsense.” As expected, both far right and left wing kooks have criticized the President for the way he handled the matter. The far right babbling he did not take action quick enough and arguing he should have taken a more public posture from the beginning. But why? Why compromise the status of the President by leveling him with renegade hoodlums? Why reveal our cards to the enemy? And why unnecessarily anger young, unstable punks aiming weapons at an American hostage? There was nothing to be gained. The loony left was equally quick to criticize the President for being “militaristic”—something they believed he would not be. Some people are just stupid—it’s as simple as that. To both groups I offer some eloquent, heartfelt advice, “If you don’t like it, pack your trash and leave the damn country.” Anyway, the President gets credit—after all, he is the President—for doing what was right—even if it was a “no-brainer.”

“Bravo Zulu” to the incredible professionalism and skills of our Navy and the SEALs who, with surgical precision, ended the miserable lives of three thugs the world is now, if only a smidgeon, better off without. How ironic and fitting is it that the destroyer, USS Bainbridge, was the centerpiece of the operation—a fearsome warship named after Commodore William Bainbridge who tangled with pirates during his naval career in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? Providing heavenly overwatch, the Commodore must surely have enjoyed this one. And how ironic is it that a trio of punks was unwittingly dispatched to Davey Jones’s Locker on Easter Sunday by men who wear the Trident? Indeed, a case of poetic justice. No way no how is the United States of America and the world’s most capable military force going to be held hostage by a few bandits trying to hornswaggle absurd amounts of cash by interrupting merchant shipping. It did not happen and it had better not ever happen.

Of course it did not take long for brethren Somali pirates to start mouthing off threatening retaliation and declaring America and U. S. military forces as their number one enemy. Should we have expected otherwise? And not much more than a day or two later they tried attacking another U.S. flagged ship—their effort, whether serious or a sniveling taunting gesture, was thwarted. Regardless, another cohort of bad guys has been given an up close and personal illustration of what happens to those who foolishly challenge the Stars and Stripes.

I opened this comment with a quote about rough men. I know and served alongside rough men. I also know rough men who are SEALs. What follows is the Creed of the rough men known as SEALs:

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

In short, three SEALs simultaneously killed three punk pirates and did so while operating from the fantail of an underway ship. They were tasked with shooting at heads bobbing around in a small boat under tow being tossed around in choppy seas. Whether the targets were 30, 50, or more than 100 yards away is of little consequence—human heads at those distances are small, very small. To make their mission a bit more challenging they worked under the cover of darkness. Not knowing any more than has been reported in the press, I suspect there was another constraint or two added to their orders and at least a variable or two of additional difficulty carrying out the mission. No matter. Three rounds—three dead pirates. There was no margin for error—a miss and the American hostage would certainly have been killed. One word comes to mind—“skill.” True to their Creed—the SEALs did not fail. Sleep well, America, and sweet dreams. Rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf.

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