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Three Perfect Strikes: Inside the Rescue of Captain Phillips

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The operation was nothing short of perfect, our Navy SEALs saving the life of an American captain held hostage, taking out three Somali pirates in three shots, all direct hits to the head. Now, how did the SEALs pull off this dramatic rescue?

Craig Sawyer, a former tier 1 Navy SEAL, joins us live. Craig, it seems nothing short of amazing that with all the moving parts that these Navy SEALs executed this. At least it appears flawless from my perspective. Am I right? Was that a flawless execution?

CRAIG SAWYER, FORMER U.S. NAVY SEAL: It appears to be that way, Greta. These guys are the best at what they do. They train year-round under every circumstance we could imagine to do this just like this. They stay quite busy elsewhere. We usually don't hear about that. But they are extensively trained, very well-equipped, and they've got all the state-of- the-art equipment that they need to make this happen in just about any circumstance. They're very good at what they do. They're human beings, but they -- they train very hard and they're quite well prepared, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I love to see them get the credit for this because so much of what they do, we never get to hear about because it's done secretly. They were even at Katrina. Down in New Orleans, we saw them moving around in boats, and we weren't supposed to mention them at the time because they were Navy SEALs. But the -- I mean, the operation, the training and what they accomplished is nothing short of amazing.

Now let me ask you a question. The shooting was rather close, 25 to 30 yards, and the boat -- the lifeboat was going up and down. Does this close proximity, 25, 30 yards, make any difference in terms of likelihood of success?

SAWYER: It does. The sea state, of course, is a huge issue and consideration, but any SEALs are very good sharpshooters and shooters with any weapons system. Snipers don't typically engage that close in the military. Law enforcement snipers typically engage at distances like we saw in this situation, but typically on flat ground or solid ground. Two moving ships -- moving ship, moving boat, it's a difficult scenario. At night, a little more difficult. These snipers are the best in the world at what they do, and they made it happen. We've got to commend them for that.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does it work? You've got -- you've got the snipers, with their -- aiming their weapons at their targets. I take it that one person makes the call "Go" or something and they all shoot? I mean -- I mean, how is this -- tell me the likely scenario.

SAWYER: Well, without giving away the tactics too much, Greta, there's a coordination between the snipers. And in a situation like this, they will typically fire all rounds simultaneously with a coordinated -- what we call a command fire, which -- in which scenario, all the snipers simply break (ph) their shots at the same time and eliminate the threats, and in this case, freeing the hostage.

Watch Greta's interview.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there was a -- and the President of the United States had to give the green light to give them the authority to use the lethal force in the event that the circumstances called for it, right? They can't just do this on their own.

SAWYER: Well, certainly, under any tasking, they're following orders to carry out the task at hand. So when they went there, they were most likely given orders to conduct whatever activities they took, the actions that they took. So they would have definitely been given the political green light to take the actions that they did ahead of time, absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: So while we -- while we all sort of sit in amazement and see the extraordinary work that they've done, I suspect that they walked away with, like, Oh, this is how we do it, and this is just sort of normal for us.

SAWYER: Well, I can assure you -- I know they -- the crew of guys that carried out this mission, they would have walked away thinking, Hey, is that it? You know, while we're here, do you want anything else? They're quite capable of more, but I'm sure they're pleased with the result, which is all that matters.

VAN SUSTEREN: Craig...

SAWYER: Murphy's always out there.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... I got to...

SAWYER: Things can go wrong but -- OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: I got to run.

SAWYER: Go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: Craig, thank you.

SAWYER: Thank you.




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