On Saturday, President Trump congratulated the commanders of the two Navy vessels tasked with launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at an Assad-controlled air base in Syria last week.  He then followed his telephone conversations up on Twitter, extending his praise into the digital sphere.

“Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack,” Trump tweeted.

The ballistic missile strike was intended as a “strategic deterrence” aimed at preventing Assad’s regime from using chemical weapons again in the ongoing Syrian civil war.  Over the years, a number of chemical attacks have been attributed to Assad’s regime, but last week marked the first time a foreign nation took military action as a response.

The two ships responsible for launching the missile strike, the USS Porter and USS Ross, are both destroyers equipped with a wide range of armaments, including fifty-six tomahawk missiles.  Each of the ships depleted around half of their Tomahawk stockpile in the strike.

“The success of this mission hinged upon our sailors’ excellent training, technical knowledge, and dedication to their work,” Russell Caldwell, the commander of the USS Ross, said in a U.S. European Command news release. “It was a distinct honor to hear firsthand from our commander-in-chief that these operations had a direct impact in support of his national objectives.”

The USS Porter has been under the command of Andria Slough since January of 2016, and in that short time the ship has already received the 2016 Atlantic Fleet “Bloodhound” award, for being the best ship in the fleet at anti-submarine warfare.  Slough, a Naval Academy graduate, received a fair amount of recognition in social media since the strike, as her decorated military career and professionalism make her a strong female role model – though some conservatives have accused the Left of ignoring the female leader in favor of pop-culture role models that receive more publicity.

Commander Slough, photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Slough has served in leadership positions on a number of Naval vessels, as well as being the former deputy director for Joint Maritime Ballistic Missile Defense Operations and Training.  She has also been the recipient of awards like the Pacific Fleet Shiphandler of the Year and the Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley Leadership Award.

“In general, the president said he was impressed with Porter’s precision and lethality,” Slough said. “It was obvious he was extremely pleased with our performance, and is glad we’re out here patrolling in U.S. 6th Fleet.”

According to Defense Department statements, the missile strike targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radars.

“We didn’t crater the runway; we were not trying to make the airfield long-term inoperable. What we did was degrade the Syrians’ ability to carry out chemical weapons attacks from that base in the short term,” CENTCOM spokesman Army Colonel John Thomas told reporters.

“What we didn’t strike were any areas that we believed Russian soldiers were operating out of,” Thomas added, “and we didn’t strike what we believe was the munitions area where there may have been chemical weapons so we wouldn’t create a plume [of toxic gases] or any further damage or harm to personnel.”


Image courtesy of Reuters