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US Navy SEALS Kick Ass

You probably heard about the dramatic rescue of the captured mariner Captain Phillips from Somali pirates.  In case you didn’t, here’s the dramatic part:

With the seas becoming choppier and the increasingly agitated captors pointing an automatic weapon at Captain Phillips, Commander Frank Castellano decided he had no other option.

The Bainbridge skipper gave the green light and sharpshooters at the warship’s stern opened fire on the pirates, who were partially exposed aboard the small, enclosed lifeboat.

The lifeboat was being towed by the Bainbridge at the time. Captain Phillips, who was bound and standing, was uninjured in the attack, in the Gulf of Aden at 7.19pm Somali time.

Captain Phillips’s three captors, who were armed with AK-47 rifles and pistols, appeared to have died instantly. “We pay a lot for their training and we earned a good return on the investment tonight,” Vice-Admiral William Gortney, commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, said of the snipers.

Incredible.  Navy SEALS are arguably the most impressive fighting unit in the world.  It’s rare that we hear about a SEAL operation, but when we do the news is almost always good.  CNN had a good piece about the SEALS today.  Excerpt:

As the Navy itself puts it, SEAL training is like few other competitions:

“Prospective SEALs go through what is considered by many military experts to be the toughest training in the world. … The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are Maritime Special Forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) take their name from the elements in and from which they operate. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected.”

They looked so young, those prospective SEALs on Coronado beach. The maximum age to apply to be a SEAL is 28. They all know what they’re getting into when they sign up, but to see their faces — including the faces of the ones who were falling behind, who probably weren’t going to make the cut, who were gasping for air on the arduous runs along the beach and having trouble during the maneuvers in the ocean — was to see a devotion to the concept of duty on a level few of the rest of us will ever know.

Maybe you, during the recent days when Capt. Richard Phillips was held captive on that lifeboat off the coast of Africa, were asking yourself who in the world could come to his rescue. Who had the training, and the courage, to carry out such a mission.

We probably don’t ask ourselves that kind of question often enough. Usually, military operations are talked about in the abstract, as if they’re lines on a chalkboard, or brightly glowing diagrams on a computer screen.

But once in a while, like now, we stop to focus on what we ask of the people who serve in our stead when the task seems all but impossible. Ronald Reagan would sometimes quote a line that summed up our wonder at those who make the choice to serve our country in this way: “Where do we find such men?”

Read the whole thing.

Update: More details on the execution of the rescue.

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