Receive email updates from John T. Reed

Copyright by John T. Reed

Below is an email I received on 4/18/09 about the Phillips pirate rescue incident. I cannot tell if it’s accurate. For one thing, the government refuses to comment about Navy SEAL operations. I do not know why other than some sort of PR gimmick based on the notion that claiming they are “not at liberty to discuss” operations will give them a higher status and more mystique with the public than simply saying what happened—like amost every other miitary unit.

Don’t tell me they have to do that to protect SEALs and future operations. We have all seen a zilion war movies and documentaries that ended with credits thanking the military for their cooperation with the filming. We’ve all seen military officers from Norman Schwarzkopf to the Five O’Clock Follies in Vietnam giving all sorts of details about operations. And we all know there are a few things that are legitimate secrets. “Secret” stamps have long been used by the military to conceal screw-ups and ordinariness that the public has already perceived as wonderfulness. But as long as the SEALs place a higher value on cultivating mystique than disclosing the disclosable, emails like this are going to fill the void left by the the SEALs’ use mystery as an image-building trick.

Mark Twain said,

It is better to keep your mouth closed and have people think you’re a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

The SEALs policy of keeping their mouth closed is the same principle, but opposite, namely,

If you have already convinced people you’re the coolest thing on earth, it is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re really cool than to open it and thereby start revealing you’re really just another SNAFU military unit.

SNAFU is a 60-year-old U.S. military acronym that stands for “Situation Normal: All Fouled Up”—or an F-word to that effect.

This is an improper use of the “halo” effect, that is, the tendency of people who know little about you to assume everything about you is good if they know little and the little they know puts you in a good light. There is a chapter about the halo effect in my book Succeeding.

Here is the email about what really happened in the pirate rescue:

Hi John,

You probably don't remember me. I'm the former Special Forces guy who sent you an e-mail recently about my Viet Nam war 'political' experiences.

This e-mail was forwarded to me from a Rainer Wagner who I served with in Viet Nam and had similar Viet Nam (political) wartime experiences as I did. He had gotten out of the service and then re-enlisted back into SF and made it a career. He is now a civilian and works at the SF Special Warfare Center at Bragg as a doctrine/analyst writer (whatever that is!).

I mention this only to establish credibility. Based on my actual experiences in the service and subsequently as a lifelong 'student' of our government officials I would venture to say this is probably right on.

I thought you would be interested in it. To add more credibility I did not delete any of the previous message receipients but it might not be a good idea to continue to do so....I don't want to get anybody in trouble.

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 5:43 am
Subject: FW: Hostage Decision Making

Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 12:43 AM
Subject: FW: Hostage Decision Making

From a Friend of mine that writes books for the war colleges such as West Point and Annapollis. His information is usually very accurate.

Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:58 PM
Subject: Fw: Hostage Decision Making

FYI only, can't vouch for validity/accuracy, but the Marine that sent it often has good USMC/Navy inside details. Best,

Subject: FW: Navy SEALs on Obama Hostage Decision Making
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 12:04:31 -0500

Many thanks for passing this along…From a very reliable source

Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.
2. Once they arrived, BHO (B. H. Obama) imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger
3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction
4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams
6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies
7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS.

So per our last email thread, I'm downgrading Oohbaby's performance to D-. Only reason it's not an F is that the hostage survived.

Read the following accurate account.

Philips’ first leap into the warm, dark water of the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out as well. With the
Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, 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 next day, a small Navy boat approaching the floating raft was fired on by the Somali pirates — and
again no fire was returned and no pirates killed. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed by
Navy personnel thanks to the combination of a lack of clear guidance from Washington and a mandate
from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background of dealing with
such issues and no track record of decisiveness, decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful
solution” would be acceptable.

After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the onscenecommander decided
he’d had enough.

Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s
life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation
had been denied the day before, the Navy officer — unnamed in all media reports to date — decided
the AK47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the
NSWC team to take their shots.

Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe.

There is upside, downside, and spinside to=2 0the series of events over the last week that culminated in
yesterday’s dramatic rescue of an American hostage.

Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed
victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean and [1] declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put
paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.

Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result
of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort.
What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its
team of NSWC 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.

I appreciate informed, well-thought-out constructive criticism and suggestions. If there are any errors or omissions in my facts or logic, please tell me about them. If you are correct, I will fix the item in question. If you wish, I will give you credit. Where appropriate, I will apologize for the error. To date, I have been surprised at how few such corrections I have had to make.