Vail Valley Voices: The Navy follows the commander in chief’s orders |

Vail Valley Voices: The Navy follows the commander in chief’s orders

Jon Becker
Vail, CO, Colorado

Please allow me to add my opinion to the discourse on the treatment of pirates off the coast of Somalia.

I believe that my perspective on this matter might interest some of our locals and guests. My oldest daughter is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. She is currently an officer assigned to the USS Kidd DDG 100, a destroyer based out of San Diego.

The Kidd is a slightly newer version of the USS Bainbridge, the destroyer involved in the piracy incident off Somalia. Her ship trains for all the same missions as the Bainbridge.

She has been on live fire training missions in which she was aboard a small inflatable boat that was tasked to capture a small boat like the lifeboat that Capt. Phillips was held on.

The Navy trains for these situations all of the time, and they have worked out the best methodology for resolving them. They are the professionals, and they go by the book.

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The U.S. Navy is led by the best and smartest leaders that our country has ever developed. I have listened to Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Gary Roughhead, chief of naval operations, speak. They are extremely professional, dedicated, and focused leaders.

Admiral Mullen spoke at the commissioning ceremony at Annapolis. One of the things that he stressed to the new officers was this (paraphrased):

It is your obligation to give your opinion when called on. When your commander makes a decision, it is your duty to carry out your orders. He said that as long as you are in uniform, it is your duty to carry out your orders. If you feel that you cannot do that, you should resign your commission and then you can comment on policy decisions.

Admiral Mullen is totally on board with the concept that this country’s military is there to implement the policy of the United States of America as defined by its commander in chief. There’s no other way.

This is how our Navy operates. You can be sure that all of the actions that were taken in the pirate incident were controlled and carried out according to Navy regulations, not because the CO of the Bainbridge or the head of a Seal team decided to take independent action.

The truth is that the orders for the Bainbridge to sail to the scene would have had to come from the top of the chain of command ,and they were authorized either on a direct order from the commander and chief or based on an order that he had already given.

It has also come out that the president gave orders twice over the course of the incident that the officers on the scene were clear to use whatever force was necessary to protect Capt. Phillips and to keep the pirates from reaching shore.

The president didn’t take to the airwaves and posture or bluster about the situation. He did his job and he let the Navy do theirs. Their mission was to safely retrieve Capt. Phillips and their responsibility was to do it without endangering the lives of our sailors or their officers.

What difference did it make that they chose to wait until the tables were turned in their favor? It is ridiculous to suggest that some Rambo action earlier in the week could have had any better outcome than our Seals achieved by waiting for the right moment to act.

Had the Navy gone cowboy and some of our people taken casualties, I am sure Mr. Akin would have appeared in print telling us that the president was an inexperienced, weak, worthless liberal whiner who screwed up the whole operation. Well he didn’t, and everything could not have worked out better.

To all of you haters, left or right, sometimes you have to just stand up and give the devil his due!

The only thing that is embarrassing, Mr. Akin, is your total inability to understand that our military doesn’t just make it up as they go along. I was surprised that you didn’t take your chance to state your opinion that the entire success of the mission was due to the great courage and leadership of President Bush.

Our military is the best in the world, but they take orders from our president. When those orders are given, the commander and chief rightly gets the credit (this case) or the blame (Bush lying us into a pre-emptive war over WMD that didn’t exist).

Let’s have a talk about how the right can slither around the fact that the United States first imprisoned a U.S. citizen for waterboarding in 1898, that we sent a Japanese soldier to 15 years hard labor in 1947 for waterboarding an American prisoner during WWII, and that we court-martialed a U.S. soldier in Vietnam for the same offense.

We have decried the treatment that our POWs received in the Hanoi Hilton because the Geneva Conventions bans the torture of captured enemy to get information. Don’t you think that there was some North Vietnamese official saying, “Who cares if it’s torture if it saves Vietnamese lives?”

My daughter had to take ethics courses at the Naval Academy. They are taught to do the right thing by our military command. They are taught how to lead, how to protect their country and the people they command. She stands watch at sea in the middle of the night on her ship to fulfill the oath that she and her commander and chief both took to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Let’s back them up!

Jon Becker lives in Avon.

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