Shipping firms should use armed security guards much more to protect their vessels against pirates off Somalia, the top U.S. Navy commander charged with tackling the problem said on Friday.
Vice Admiral Bill Gortney said more cooperation between navies, a legal basis for detaining and trying pirates and stabilizing Somalia would also help to crackdown on the piracy, which has surged in the region in recent months.
But Gortney expressed skepticism about going after pirates on land or targeting them with air strikes, even though a draftdrawn up by Washington seeks authority for such actions.
“I see people trying to look for an easy military solution to a problem that demands a non-kinetic solution,” Gortney told reporters traveling with visitingat his headquarters in Bahrain.
“If you’re going to do kinetic strikes into the pirate camps, the positive ID and the collateral damage concerns cannot be overestimated.
“They’re irregulars — they don’t wear uniforms,” said Gortney, who commands the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and oversees a coalition of navies fighting piracy off Somalia.
Somali pirates stand in the dock inside a court of law in Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa December 11, 2008. Somalia’s government has welcomed a call by the United States for countries to have U.N. authority to hunt down Somali pirates on land as well as pursue them off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.(Joseph Okanga – KENYA/Reuters)
Gortney said the solution lay in bringing stability to the African state but that would not happen soon. Governments and shipping companies had to look for other answers.
“I’m a firm believer … (in) armed security guards, because that’s what we’d do ashore,” he said. “You’re working against criminal activity. That’s what I’m pushing.”