Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Navy snipers shoot pirates from 100 feet away

How hard was it for the Navy snipers to shoot the pirates from 100 feet away?
Navy snipers killed three Somali pirates who had been holding an American hostage in an 18-foot lifeboat on Sunday. The SEALs fired from a Navy destroyer 100 feet from the pirates. Can a sniper reliably hit a human target on a small boat bobbing on the ocean, or were they taking a chance with the hostage's life?

Check my latest post Jefferson and Somali pirates.


Luke Baggins said...

If hostage takers benefit from their actions, they then have more resources with which to victimize others. Shooting a hostage taker puts the life of the hostage at a certain known risk, but not shooting him puts everyone else at an unknown risk from the next crime he will certainly commit. Police and military snipers should always prefer the first risk to the second. I think Obama made absolutely the right call.

As to the danger in this case, 100 feet is a very easy shot with an M16 with iron sights on unmoving land. Add in a scope, and the shot becomes even easier. It becomes harder when you add a moving boat under the shooter and the target, but I would bet that it's minimal with a shooter who has practiced under these conditions.

Rajesh said...

Before giving Obama the credit, you should read this article which says:
"Playing pansy politics with pirates put the Captain’s life at increased risk. His first escape attempt was thwarted by the thugs as Phillips remained adrift from the aid and cover of the US Navy, which sat restrained by an administration too cowardly to let slip the dogs of war. Each day the tension and humiliation of a nation grew. The emboldened pirates fired upon our men of action, who thus restrained could not yet act in kind. The terrorists’ defiant lack of fear inspired their fellows to target other American vessels. All while the community organizer in chief flipped through his conflict resolution handbook.

But here, at long last, the captive captain is free. He leapt clear and our faithful Navy, apparently at last free to take the safety off, rid the world of three contemptible degenerates and have the fourth in custody to question. So the bold leap into the sea frees the President of the burden to act.

In the end, Captain Phillips wasn’t saved by the President, but by his own courageous plunge and the deadly professionalism of our men with guns. The President, you see, was saved by the Captain."

One thing I find remarkable is the rare instance of snipers at work on the high seas.

Luke Baggins said...

Good points. I was unaware of those other details.

The right policy would be to shoot hostage takers immediately without regard for the risk to the hostage. Obama didn't do that, but McCain probably wouldn't have either. In the present context, I'm grateful that we have a president capable of making the right decision when it is practically forced upon him. It could easily be so much worse, and would be domestically if not in the Gulf of Aden, with McCain in that office.

Rajesh said...

I also don't think there is any difference in Obama and McCain. The point is in now enforcing some form of law on the high seas and since US has most to lose will Obama be forceful and end this high seas highway robbery? I doubt it.