President Barack Obama's State of the Union secret is out.
About two hours before delivering his address Tuesday night, the president got word of a covert Navy SEAL operation finishing up half way around the world. Their mission: hostage rescue.
"Good job, tonight," Obama told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he walked into the House chamber.
U.S. Special Forces carried out a dramatic overnight raid in Somalia, freeing 32-year-old American Jessica Buchanan and 60-year-old Danish aid worker Poul Thisted. Buchanan and Thisted were kidnapped last October.
The elite U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into the hostile East African nation of Somalia. Then, under the cover of darkness, moved in on the compound housing the hostages.
A fire fight followed. In the end, nine Somali pirates were dead with both hostages rescued and no U.S. casualties.
Click play to watch Tyler James' report followed by comments from CBN News Military Reporter Chuck Holton.
A growing U.S. military presence in East Africa likely aided in the mission's success.
"We've had a very engaged effort against al Qaeda-like terrorists groups on the African continent. In fact, in recent years, the focus has been on al-Shabab," explained CBN News Senior International Correspondent George Thomas.
"So not only do we have intellegence, human assets, but we also have technical assets on the ground to be able to monitor the activities of groups like al-Shabab and others operating on the African continent," he added.
SEAL Team 6 is the elite fighting force behind the Somali rescue mission, the same special force team that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bid Laden.
The covert team is based in and trains in Virginia Beach, Va.
Retired NAVY Seal Sr. Chief Don Shipley knows firsthand the focus and skill it takes to be special forces.
"These guys are thoroughbreads. They're these sleek black stallions on top of the hill looking down at the heard. They are genetically built to withstand punishment, the pain, to ignore things ... control emotion, control fear, panic. They are the best this country has," Shipley said.
Vice President Joe Biden explained that the timing of the rescue mission was based on health concerns for Jessica Buchanan. She actually sold all her belongings to become a missionary in Somalia.
"They said it was the time, the opportunity, Jessica's health was failing and they concluded they should go at this time. The president gave the go," Biden said.
The difficult mission was executed with precision. The rescue is just another testament to the skill and bravery put forth by U.S. Special Forces.