At the time it happened the USS Bainbridge was towing the lifeboat to calmer waters as the sea state was deteriorating. One of the pirates was on board the Bainbridge as the talks about obtaining Phillip's release continued. The lifeboat was approx. 25 m behind the Bainbridge when snipers on the fantail observed one of the pirates in the pilot house of the lifeboat pointing an AK-47 at the back of a tied up Phillips and the other two pirates on board were visible (at least shoulders and heads). The standing authority gave them clearance to engage the pirates if the life of the captain was in imminent danger. The on scene commander deemed this to be true and gave the order to fire. All three bad guys were taken out and then a rigid inflatable boat went to the lifeboat to retrieve Phillips. Iti is unknown at this point whether the shooters were SEALs or Marine Scout Snipers as both would have been available. This was not a rescue attempt ordered by National Command Authority i.e. the President. It was a reaction by the on scene commander under standard authority to safeguard the life of a hostage.
The AP is reporting that President Obama gave the order to use military force to rescue the hostage, that is misleading.WASHINGTON (AP)—Administration officials say President Barack Obama approved the military operation that rescued a U.S. captain held hostage by Somali pirates.He did affirm the military's authorization to use force if the captain's life was in danger, but they already would have had that authorization as part of their standard rules of engagement. If there are innocents about to be slaughtered the same reasoning that authorizes self defense also covers an imminent execution unless the ROE specifically forbid it.The AP is making it sound like there was an active rescue ordered by the President. It was not, there was an imminent threat and the local commander gave the order to fire. Good on Obama for ensuring their authorization was clear, but let's also be clear that he did not authorize or order an active rescue attempt.
The officials say Obama ordered the Defense Department to use military resources to rescue Richard Phillips from a lifeboat off the Somali coast.
So let's be clear on this. Captain Phillips is free and the pirates are toast, but it was the US Navy personnel on scene that acted autonomously and put some starch back in our flag. The President, for all of his attempts to horn in and grab credit, had nothing to do with the actual decision to take the scumbags down.
I also have to note that it took Obama three days to even authorize the Defense Department to act. Three days. Remember those commercials during the campaign when he claimed that he had the ability to react decisively when that hypothetical 3AM crisis call came in? I guess we've just seen that fiction exposed.
On the plus side, he did seem to find time to pick out a dog for his kids in the middle of this episode. But then even waffling appeasers have their priorities...
Welcome home, Captain Phillips...and way to go US NAVY!!!