President Joe Biden issued a written statement on Monday after the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the death of two Navy SEALs who had previously gone missing during a mission near Somalia.
CENTCOM announced Sunday that after a ten-day search and rescue mission, two Navy SEALs who had gone missing during a Jan. 11 mission to seize a dhow loaded with parts for Iranian medium-range ballistic missiles, soldiers had been ruled dead. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wrote that they were mourning the loss of the Navy SEALs.
“These SEALs represented the very best of our country, pledging their lives to protect their fellow Americans,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to the family members, loved ones, friends, and shipmates who are grieving for these two brave Americans. Our entire country stands with you. We will never fail to honor their service, their legacy, and their sacrifice.”
While conducting their Jan. 11 mission, the Navy SEALs were attempting to board a boat from a small special operations combat craft when one was knocked off the skip by high waves. Another SEAL went in after him.
The ship that the SEALs intercepted was believed to be heading to the Iranian-backed Houthis. The recently designated terrorist group has repeatedly attacked U.S. interests in the Red Sea despite retaliatory strikes from the Biden administration. (RELATED: Biden Calls Houthis A Terrorist Group Despite Taking Them Off The List Years Ago)
During the search and rescue efforts, Biden did not address the missing SEALs despite making a public appearance. White House national security spokesman John Kirby and the Pentagon stressed that search and rescue efforts were ongoing prior to the announcement that the SEALs were dead.
“So on the search and rescue, the — CENTCOM continues to lead that effort. It is ongoing. Certainly, you know, we hope that we are able to recover our teammates. Our thoughts and prayers are clearly with their families at this time. I don’t have any specific updates to provide right now other than that that’s ongoing,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday.
Amid criticism regarding Biden’s lack of statement, Tim W., a former Navy SEAL of 22 years, told the Daily Caller that there is a limited amount of information that can be released during such situations.
“The Department of Defense seems content with the statements of CENTCOM. A mitigating factor with the DOD is that the platoon that those two seals came from is still operational. That by practice, restricts a lot of the information that can be disseminated,” he said.
“Finally, Naval special warfare has a tendency to protect their own in cases like this. News gossip about Navy SEALs is usually negative. The command these men came from will also differ to family requests as long as possible,” he continued, adding that normally a family requests privacy.