February 1, 2008  

Masters of command

TO THE NAVY COMMANDERS AND CREW of the three warships in the Strait of Hormuz for their cool, restrained response to severe provocation from Iranian gunboats. As the gunboats swarmed disturbingly close and dropped suspicious packages around the destroyer Hopper, cruiser Port Royal and frigate Ingraham, the Navy crews trained their guns on the provocateurs, but rightly held their fire. Their restraint was the correct course of action. It denied Iran a propaganda victory and showed the world that the U.S. Navy rules the waves with courage and calm professionalism.

Not so impressive, however, was the Navy PR system that released the videotape of the incident with the mystery radio threat tacked on the end. Navy officials did not know where the voice originated, and the transmission was added without proper context. They should have let the videotape — and the actions of the Navy warship crews — speak for themselves.