They were the real thing, common crooks of the high seas, with nothing romantic, charmingly eye-patched or gold-earringed about them.
But with three crack rifle shots, three of the bad guys were dispatched by Navy Seals, and Richard Phillips, the captain of the United States-flagged freighter Maersk Alabama, was freed in a daring Indian Ocean operation that rightfully raised Americans’ spirits Easter Sunday.
Three shots, three dead across the bounding main in a dusk so dark that night-vision scopes had to be used? There are no better-trained special forces in the world than the Coronado-based Seals, no snipers better able to pull the trigger and make it matter.
As negotiations to free Phillips had soured after several days, and after an earlier escape attempt from the 25-foot lifeboat had failed, President Obama had authorized the use of force.
That force paid off, and will continue to pay off down the years, not only in the safety of Captain Phillips, who had bravely offered himself up as a hostage to the pirates in return for the release of his crew and ship.
It showed the Somali criminals currently terrorizing the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean sea lanes in the most dramatic fashion possible that once the life of a United States citizen hangs in the balance, all bets are off. And the advantage is suddenly not at all with the guys with the fast boats, the grappling hooks and
the greed. It’s with the extraordinary combination of intelligence, patience and might that is the United States military operating at its best.
THE NAVY SEALS ARE NOT USED ENOUGH TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY AND OUR CITIZENS. WE NEED THIS SHOW OF POWER, TO STOP THE TERRORISTS. WE HAVE TO LET THEM KNOW THAT THEY ARE ONLY GOING TO PUSH US SO FAR