An interesting perspective on Piracy today in Navy Times.
Peter Chalk, of the almighty RAND Corporation, actually raises some good points in this article. Mainly a) You can’t stop all piracy in the world, so don’t get rash an make “War on Drugs” type statements and b) Piracy isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom.
As with other piracy experts, Chalk said the lawlessness off Somalia’s coast was a symptom of its anarchy on land. The absence of authorities gives pirates the ability to hijack ships and take them to ports where no police will try to free them. Also, pirate payoffs give locals a stake in helping the attacks continue. Short of invading the coastal towns that serve as pirate havens, experts have said, there is no way to strike at more than the symptoms of piracy.
Chalk also echoed other experts with his view that the U.S. and European naval patrols off Somalia could never stop all the attacks over hundreds of square miles, nor even serve as a deterrent for pirates who have proven to be wily, inventive operators. As such, the European Union’s new anti-piracy patrol, with four ships, won’t have much of an effect, Chalk said.
That last paragraph is important in the characterization of what the EU is willing/able to provide to solve the problem. 4 ships, eh? Something tells me that’s not going to cut the mustard.
The U.S. commander in charge of the waters off Somalia, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, told CNN on Monday that he thought it would take a force of 61 warships to safeguard the sea lanes just in the Gulf of Aden, compared with the 14 international ships now patrolling off the Horn of Africa. If the U.S. Navy alone had to provide a force that size, it would take every destroyer and cruiser in the fleet, plus three frigates.
So, what you’re saying is it would take almost every ship the Navy has to battle piracy, and the 1,000 ship Navy is coughing up something slightly less than the 1,000 ships promised. Quite the conundrum, huh?