Earlier this year Michelle Obama spoke to a small legion of women veterans. Sad to say most Americans assume the military is made up entirely of men and fail to recognize the contribution of women.
Tomorrow morning Captain Phillips from the Maersk-Alabama will be talking to Matt Lauer about his unbelievable experience. However, that’s not the focus here – this is. Rear Admiral Michelle Howard. There’s video of Captain Phillips and the admiral herself appears as well. She assumed command three days prior.
April 5, 2009, Rear Adm. Howard “assumed command of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 during a ceremony held on board USS Boxer (LHD 4) today” relieving the previous commander, Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, who had been “commander since November 2007.” Rear Adm. Howard also assumed command of “several U.S. 5th Fleet task forces, including Combined Task Force (CTF) 51 and 59, as well as CTF 151, an international maritime coalition created to disrupt, deter and thwart piracy.”
Adm. Howard is the first African-American women to command a U.S. Navy ship – let alone a fleet. The primary priority of the ESG 2 is deterring piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
CTF 151 is a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.
A day or so after Capt. Phillips’ rescue, NPR’s Robert Seigel talked to RADM Howard about fighting piracy.
Interestingly enough there’s a local ‘twist’ or link. A few weeks when Captain Richard Phillips was successfully rescued, KTVB had footage of a local mother whose daughter was assigned to the U.S.S. Boxer. The Boxer is part of Rear Admiral Howard’s command.
One of the more interesting quotes I remember from this story was:
‘She’s trying to put an end to piracy while her Mom sitting at home still trying to cope with the reality of pirates.’