Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WaPo’s Phillips’ Rescue Stories (Updated)

Today’s Washington Post’s lead story on the Phillips’ rescue is headlined:

'3 Rounds, 3 Dead Bodies'

Precision Volley by Navy SEALs Ended a Five-Day Ordeal For an American Seaman, but Piracy Off Somalia Continues
The “3 Rounds” main head, a quote from one of those involved in the rescue, is pulled from the story which follows. Give WaPo’s headline editors credit for recognizing a gem of a headline when if drops in their laps.

The subhead shows some bias or naiveté. Why’s the “but” in:

Precision Volley by Navy SEALs Ended a Five-Day Ordeal For an American Seaman, but Piracy Off Somalia Continues?
Who expected the killing of 3 pirates to end piracy off Somalia’s coast?

A straight news subhead would've read:

Precision Volley by Navy SEALs Ended a Five-Day Ordeal For an American Seaman as Piracy Off Somalia Continues
The story that follows the heads provides a good number of telling details in what’s essentially a summary of the rescue planning and execution.

WaPo also carries today
a story about SEAL sniper training and how the shooting of the pirates was carried out. Here’s a story excerpt:
Becoming a Navy SEAL sniper requires at least five years of experience on a SEAL team. SEALs must pass a marksmanship test, undergo psychological testing and compete for the positions.

"It takes a person of great patience and mental tenacity. . . . The ones who have proven themselves get to go" to sniper training, said Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.

Only after many months of honing skills in shooting and surveillance do the SEALs take the job of sniper on teams, the officials and experts said.

They train to hit two-inch targets from long distances. "Aim small, miss small" is the philosophy, said the former SEAL instructor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his current work.

"We pay a lot for their training and . . . we earned, got a good return on their investment tonight," Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, said after the rescue
WaPo’s lead story’s here; it's SEAL story’s here.

Closing words go to the SEALs: Well done!

Update @ 3 PM ET on 4/14 - - -

I just received the following heads-up:

John: In the Navy we say BRAVO ZULU! to the SEALS.

Tarheel Hawkeye

Thank you, TH.

BRAVO ZULU! it is to the SEALs.

I've searched to learn how BRAVO ZULU became the congratulatory salute to SEALs with no success.

Can anyone help?


Anonymous said...

John: In the Navy we say BRAVO ZULU! to the SEALS.
Tarheel Hawkeye

JWM said...

Dear TH,

Thanks for the heads-up.

I've updated.

Please give it a look and see if you can be of further help.



GPrestonian said...

John, Bravo Zulu (the 'B' hoisted above the 'Z' flag) is a long-standing international naval signal meaning 'Well Done'.

Anonymous said...

I believe the use of Bravo Zulu dates only to the time when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was Chief of Naval Operations. But I may be wrong.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Danvers said...

From Wikipedia:


"Bravo Zulu" actually comes from the Allied Naval Signal Book (ACP 175 series), an international naval signal code adopted after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949. Until then, each navy had used its own signal code and operational manuals. World War II experience had shown that it was difficult, or even impossible, for ships of different navies to operate together unless they could readily communicate, and ACP 175 was designed to remedy this.


At that time BZ was not rendered as "Bravo Zulu", but in each navy's particular radio alphabet. In the U.S. Navy, BZ was spoken as "Baker Zebra". In the meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had adopted English as the international air traffic control language. They developed a radio alphabet for international aviation use, designed to be as "pronounceable" as possible by flyers and traffic controllers speaking many different languages. The U.S. Navy adopted this ICAO alphabet in March 1956. It was then that "Baker Zebra" finally became "Bravo Zulu".

Anonymous said...

Ooops! My bad. I just spoke with one of my colleagues, a retired Navy Chief, and he set me straight. Bravo Zulu goes back to WWII times, but wasn't called "Bravo Zulu" until the present-day phonetic alphabet came into use (about 1955+=). The Navy is run by Chiefs, but don't tell the Admirals.
Tarheel Hawkeye