Archive for the ‘ashore’ Category

Navy commander questions land attacks on pirates

December 13, 2008

Days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to ask the United Nations to authorize “all necessary measures” against piracy from Somalia, a leader of the U.S. military, which would help carry out that policy, said in effect: Not so fast.

The commander of the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet expressed doubt Friday about the wisdom of launching attacks against Somali pirates on land, as the draft U.N. resolution proposes. A Pentagon spokesman warned against the urge to grasp for a quick and easy military solution to a complex international problem.

U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters that striking pirate camps in lawless Somalia could open a can of worms. It is difficult to identify pirates, and the potential for killing innocent civilians “cannot be overestimated,” Gortney said.

U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney
U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney commands the Navy’s 5th Fleet. AP Hasan Jamali

There is a huge risk to any U.S. forces involved, whether small commando units or larger operations. And U.S. commanders still have sour memories of the humiliating “Blackhawk Down” outcome of U.S. military intervention in Somalia more than a decade ago.

Concern about possible mistaken identity extends to operations at sea, too, since pirate ships are often indistinguishable from ragtag fishing vessels. The military is also worried about what would be done with captured pirates, who would try or imprison them.

“There are many that are seeking a simple military solution, or solely a military solution to address the piracy issue,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “I think that we need to take a more comprehensive look a this, and while there may be a military component, this is an issue that has to be addressed more broadly.”

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Indian warship INS Tabar escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from pirates.

Above: On an anti-piracy patrol, Indian Navy warship escorts a merchant ship.  Photo: Indian Navy


U.S. wants pursuit of pirates inside Somalia Safe Havens

December 10, 2008

The United States wants to get U.N. authority for countries pursuing pirates off the coast of Somalia to hunt them down on land, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday.

They said the U.S. delegation had drafted a text it hoped would form the basis of a resolution for the Security Council to approve next week, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be at the U.N. for talks on African and Middle East issues.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who will both be in New York on Monday, may also attend the Somalia talks, which are scheduled for Tuesday, diplomats said.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff declined to provide details of the U.S. text but confirmed that Washington hoped to see a resolution adopted.

“There is complete council solidarity and consensus on the importance of dealing with the piracy problem and thwarting it, and dealing with it with every tool at our disposal,” he said.

French marine commandos practice arresting men acting as pirates ... 
French marine commandos practice arresting men acting as pirates during a live demonstration of their capabilities to counter pirates on the high seas. An international conference on Somali piracy taking place in Nairobi is expected to propose the region’s coastal nations, like Kenya and Tanzania, arrest and prosecute the pirates.(AFP/File/Gerard Julien)

“Clearly this implies both at sea and, if needed, with the consent of the Somalis, on land,” Wolff told reporters.

By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters

It was not clear what form that Somali consent would take. The country has been in virtual anarchy since the collapse of a dictatorship 17 years ago.

Islamists now control most of the south. Feuding, heavily armed clan militias hold sway in many other areas and a weak, Western-backed interim government has little authority outside the capital of Mogadishu.

Diplomats familiar with the text said it was not clear what kind of force would be permitted for countries in “hot pursuit” of pirates who decide to bring the chase onto dry land. It was also unclear if the U.S. military would participate.

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