Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Obama: Hero or Villain in Pirate Rescue Saga?

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President Barack Obama scored major political points for the successful rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from his Somali pirate captors. Media headlines hailed his “decisive leadership” in his baptism under fire. However, scuttlebutt from the Navy community claims that the rescue succeeded in spite of Obama’s indecisiveness and interference, not because of his leadership.  A harsh critique of the standoff by an anonymous Navy veteran that is circulating widely claims that Team Obama attempted to micromanage the situation, overruling the on-scene commander (OSC) and imposing ridiculous Rules Of Engagement (ROE) that repeatedly prevented the Navy SEAL shooters from taking out the pirates.

“What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC [Naval Surface Warfare Center] operators to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four day and counting standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship,” the critique says.

The critique, which claims to be based on conversations with Navy SEALs, notes: “Philips threw himself off of his lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — and none was taken. The guidance from National Command Authority — the president of the United States, Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger.” The critique cites a litany of specific interferences that allegedly prolonged the standoff for days and endangered the life of Capt. Phillips.

A Special Forces veteran contacted by The New American said he “couldn’t vouch for all the specifics in the critique,” but that all the main points “appeared to be valid on the face of it.” The most obvious fact, he noted, was that when Capt. Phillips heroically jumped into the sea, “the SEALs would have shot the pirates or the Bainbridge would have blown them out of the water,” except for being countermanded by Obama.

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps