Commentary Magazine


Bravo Zulu to Special Ops in Somalia

As they say in the military: Bravo Zulu to the Special Operations Forces who successfully rescued two Western hostages, an American woman and a Danish man, in Somalia–and to the commander-in-chief who ordered the operation.

The mission, with the Navy’s SEAL Team Six in the lead, displayed the professionalism and daring we have to come expect of our elite forces. But there was nothing routine about a rescue mission deep in “denied territory,” which is what Somalia is: a haven for pirates and Islamist terrorists. This was a major intelligence coup, to locate the camp where they were held, and a triumph of the military art to secure the two hostages unharmed in the midst of a firefight in which nine pirates were killed but all the members of the assault force survived.

President Obama authorized this mission knowing that much could go wrong–this is not as low-risk as a drone strike. It could easily have become another “Black Hawk Down,” in which case he would have been subject to withering criticism as President Clinton was about that earlier Special Operations mission in Somalia.

But he accepted the risk and forged ahead, which is what we expect a commander-in-chief to do. I have had my differences with President Obama about national security policy, but this, like the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, shows the president at his steely best.


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