Click here to download Commander Lippold's PowerPoint presentation.
On October 12, 2000, eleven months before the 9/11 attacks, the USS Cole – with Commander Kirk Lippold at the helm – docked in the port of Aden in Yemen for a routine fueling stop. At 1118, the 8,400-ton destroyer was rocked by an enormous explosion. This bombing marked al Qaeda’s first direct assault against the United States and expanded their brazen and deadly string of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. In this first-person narrative, Lippold reveals the details of this harrowing experience in which seventeen sailors died and thirty-seven were wounded. Thanks to the valor of the crew in the perilous days that followed, the ship was saved.
Yet, even with al Qaeda’s intentions made clear in an unmistakable act of war, the United States government delayed retaliating. Bureaucrats and politicians sought to shift and pin blame as they ignored the danger signaled by the attack, shirking responsibility until the event was ultimately overshadowed by 9/11. In Front Burner, Lippold captures this critical moment in America’s battle against al Qaeda, telling a vital story that – until now – has been lost in the fog of the war on terror.
Commander Lippold retired from the Navy in 2007 and remains active in current events and national security affairs. His personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon, among others.
More About the Speakers
Charles "Cully" Stimson
Manager, National Security Law Program and Senior Legal Fellow