"The best way to deal with pirates has always been to kill them, and that's still true today. It should not have taken this long to figure out what to do." A Reader.

I would focus more in this issue on the human dimension. How does the personality of the commander at the scene influence the outcome of a situation? He has to make decisions taking into account the political guidance (or lack thereof), the culture and characteristics of the adversaries, the procedures and the tactics (are they adequate to the new task? Are we flexible enough to understand what is needed in this context?), the training of his sailors, the capabilities available, the environmental conditions and finally the uncertainty that any event has embedded. There are some key questions to answer: What are risks and benefits for each course of action? What is the cost of a failure? How does a local, tactical event impact on the higher strategic and mediatic picture? Although to outsiders it may seem that all he has to do is apply very well established procedures and rules, in real life at sea it is never that way.





Speak your mind

2 Comments so far

  1. Mark Johnson/White Glove Moving on April 14, 2009 5:00 pm

    This is an interesting exercise Sir,

    I would start with the assumption that we are talking about the current situation with regard to the rescue of Captain Phillips and the Somali “pirates” in general.

    In this particular case there was widespread international media coverage which was cast as the U.S. Navy Vs the Somali Pirates. The action Commander knows that he must prevail in this situation irregaurdless of how that affects future events. If the Somali pirates manage to get Captain Phillips to land it becomes an unmanageble situation ( politically & media wise) and turns into a long term hostage situation similar to the FARC & Bettencourt.

    The cost of failure in this situation was ultimately the death of Captain Phillips.

    Unfortunately this tactical event will strongly impact the future in that area with regard to shipping, current hostages and future hostages. As I write this there have been 5 Pirate hijackings in the last 48 hours or so. For every pirate killed there are a 1000 Somali’s standing by. They have nothing too loose.
    Future hostage and hijacking situations at sea involving
    Americans will become increasingly dangerous and violent.

    Aside from this incident the best course of action in my opinion would be to have the shipping companies ( along with the Gov’t and/or agents if need be) negotiate with the Pirates for safe passage and guarentees for protection from other groups that might try and imitate. As well if that was not an option all ships could start carrying Security teams on board. Kwietly using the bribery route though would have the best results.

    The area is just too vast and I would think it close to impossible to guarantee safe passage of all shipping lines by force.

    As in all situations in life, there are no exact strict rules and procedures that can apply to every situation.

    With best regards,

    Mark Johnson

  2. Chris Monoki on April 14, 2009 10:32 pm

    Many of the posed questions have already been answered by the actions of Lt. O'Bannon and seven enlisted Marines, who took the inland post of Derne in Tripoli 27 April 1805. Local leader, Karamanli, gifted his own Mameluke sword to O'Bannon. To this day, Marine Officers are honored with this sword.

    The Marine Corps Hymn's second line, "To the Shores of Tripoli", remembers this heroic event more than 200 years past.

    Today, I find it a shame that we fret with responding to these latrunculi.

    In the past, the answer to latrunculi has been summary execution. Perhaps we should revisit that action, which has proved successful.

    To Marines, such as myself, the answer is quite obvious.

    Keep pressing, Chris Monoki


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