This week on Q&A, author and former commanding officer of the USS Cole, Kirk Lippold, discusses his new historical narrative titled “Front Burner: Al Qaeda’s Attack on the USS Cole.” Lippold recounts the events surrounding the attack which occurred October 12, 2000 at a refueling stop in the port of Aden in Yemen. He describes the heroic measures taken by his crew to save the ship from sinking and help reduce casualties.Seventeen crew members were killed and 37 injured in the bombing. He comments on the Navy’s formal investigation conducted after the incident, and the final report which stated that all the available force protection measures were not put in place by Lippold on that day. He points out that Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark both stated that with all of the measures in place the attack likely could not have been prevented. He describes the adverse effect the report had on his own future by prompting Sen. John Warner (R-VA) to block his nomination to be promoted to Captain two years later. He talks about his visits to the families of the crew members killed during the attack, and the impact the explosion had on many lives He describes this attack as the “start of the war on terror” and discusses intelligence lapses leading up to and following the day of the incident.
Kirk Lippold retired from the Navy at the rank of Commander in 2007 after serving 26 years. He is a public speaker and the president of his own consulting firm. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981, and received his Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from the Navy. He was born and raised in Nevada and currently resides in Carson City.