Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A random thought....

Last night, Fox News--as they should be--was all over the story of the SEAL snipers shooting the three Somali pirates and the rescue of the kidnapped Capt. Phillips. O'Reilly touched on it, as did Greta (Prolly others too. I forget who now). They were amazed that these shots could be made. Don't get me wrong--three simultaneous shots from a platform which is moving with the sea to an enclosed lifeboat which is also moving with the sea onto targets which are certainly moving inside the lifeboat is an amazing feat. But this is something that we hire--and train--SEAL snipers to be ready to do.

One of the former-SEAL guests on Fox last night explained how the SEALs got onto the ship. His explanation was something that rang familar to me. In my past life as a C130 pilot, we called this a "Duck Drop".
A SEAL inflatable boat is rigged with a parachute. The SEALs and this boat are loaded into a C130 and they head off for their drop zone. They drop the boat into the water, followed shortly thereafter by the SEALs. The SEALs swim to their boat, de-rig the parachute, and head off for their target--in this case the USS Bainbridge. They would, of course, do this all at night and would approach the Bainbridge from the side away from the lifeboat.
End result: One SEAL team inserted onto the Bainbridge without the pirates knowing.

As for the shooting, as I have explained, that everything involved was moving makes for the amazing part. However, for those who do not shoot, a 25-30 yard shot with a scoped rifle is a piece of cake. I--more of a pistol shooter than a rifle shooter--could get a completely inexperienced shooter to place their shots onto a non-moving target at twice that distance in a couple of hours. For the SEAL snipers, this was routine. Making those simultaneous shots at 500 or 600 yards would earn them "props" (no pun intended) inside their world, but I would imagine that the short distance involved here would mean they would be forever chastised if they hadn't made the shots.

There were apparently two sets of orders from Zero on this. Why two? What changed from his first orders to his second? The citation here makes it seem as though the arrival of the SEALs changed things. Maybe so.

But my random thought here was political. Phillips had tried to escape once earlier in his captivity. And the pirates had already shot at the Navy with no return fire delivered.

I'm glad things "ended" as they did. There is still the question of what to do with the captured pirate. He is apparently quite young, but he is still a pirate. The "foreign-policy-as-law-enforcement" will be their first approach, but giving this pirate too many "rights" has a downside too. Then too are the foreign policy issues: Despite the thriving business that Somalian piracy has become, many countries have had much more aggressive stances on this than we have. India sank a pirate mothership. The Saudis have had their success. The Germans too. And of course, the French (!) have an aggressive rescue policy.

I'm just playing armchair political observer here, but might it be that the second set of orders came after Zero had received advice (Rahmbo?) to make this situation go away or face being the President who allowed four skinny Somalians in an out-of-gas lifeboat to face down his U.S. Navy?

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