Archive for July, 2011

The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 was implemented on 1 October 1986. It has been called the most significant Defense policy change since the National Security Act of 1947. Goldwater-Nichols gave us a globe divided into Combatant Commands, each with a CINC (until 2002, when they became COCOMs). It also made the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the principle military advisor to the President, whereas previously the Service Chiefs had a much larger role in providing that advice.

Born of the desire to end inter-service rivalry that was evident in Vietnam, the failed Desert One 1980 hostage rescue mission, and in the invasion of Grenada in 1983, Goldwater-Nichols became the driver for “jointness”, with individual services being tasked as force providers, with the “organize, train, and equip” mission, but without any longer having operational control over their respective services. I was told once that the final driver for Goldwater-Nichols was the adoption of the USAF/US Army Air-Land Battle Doctrine. That without something mandating joint cooperation, even the primary services would not play well enough in the sandbox to make ALBD viable.

The first test of the new landscape was Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and in those operations, the new system under Goldwater-Nichols received high marks. Since, however, opinions have been somewhat less sanguine regarding the effects of the Act.

While supporters of Goldwater-Nichols point to a reduction in unwanted redundancy, critics will point out that some of the redundancy that was eliminated was a necessary and prudent hedge to ensure maintenance of capability.

Supporters also laud the broader focus of our senior officers, having a requirement for a Joint tour that has them work with other services, where they learn to interact and gain insight into other service cultures. Critics charge that the mania for Joint tours has stunted the learning curve for Officers’ own-service tactical and technical knowledge, and that “jointness” is a ticket punch operation with little inherent value.

Goldwater-Nichols was intended, in part, to reduce the inefficiencies at the senior strategic level of DoD, to streamline function and role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a part of the National Security apparatus and the decision-making process. In that way, advocates can rightly argue that the Act has been a success.

Some have charged that, instead of strengthening civilian control of the Military, Goldwater-Nichols actually reduced civilian influence, and created an American version of the Prussian General Staff, setting CJCS as the primary military advisor. They argue that the inherent inefficiency of the previous arrangement was desirable as a means of self-limiting uniformed influence. In addition, the “dual-hatting” of Service Chiefs to both advocate for their respective services AND provide sound strategic input, to be an “honest broker”, was not a realistic expectation.

Certainly, weapons and equipment procurement continues to be a source of anxiety for the Defense Department, even though Goldwater-Nichols required a revamping of that entire system. Whether Goldwater-Nichols is to blame or not, I couldn’t say. Whether the Act has improved anything, I could not say, either.

Goldwater-Nichols encompasses much more than I have mentioned here, including implications for other uniformed services, and even the realm of Homeland Security, which was known as Civil Defense when provisions of the Act were implemented.

So, to open it up for discussion, has the Goldwater-Nichols Act been a success or a failure? Did it do what it was intended to do? If so, were the changes for the better? Did it really change anything as much as touted? What might be revised regarding Goldwater-Nichols after 25 years? Is it time to modify or repeal Goldwater-Nichols? Is it still serving its intended purpose well?

Let’s open up for discussion. I would love to hear some perspectives on Goldwater-Nichols as we approach the quarter-century mark of its implementation.

Oh, and Uniform of the Day will be Service Dress Purples.

Since this came out on 22 JUN on the Navy’s Facebook page, I have been trying to figure out quite what to do with it.

As a father, brother, and member of the first generation of Navy officers to spend their entire career in mixed-gender units – I am very serious about sexual assault and its impact at both the personal level and the readiness level. As a reflection of the society it serves, sexual assault takes place in the Navy as it does in society. Especially in such a youth heavy organization and all that comes with it – the Navy needs to make sure it has a focused, clear and realistic policy and prevention program.

I am more from the, “Have the CMDCM brief everyone that if they have anything to do with sexual assault of a Shipmate, they can expect to be punished as close as possible to having their heads on pikes.” school – it takes about 90-seconds and we can get back to work. I am willing to accept that more can be done, and that is fine. It just needs to be done smart, right, in the correct context, serious, and non-patronizing.

Why then, do we have such an incoherence on a such a clear problem?

The younger a Sailor is, the more he uses social media. A lot of people who are not part of the Navy family, but have an interest in the Navy, visit these sites as well. On 22 JUN if you visited the official Navy Facebook site, this is what you would have seen in the Wall Photos; here is the direct link. Sure, you can just look below – but go to the link if for no other reason than to read the comments. This, right or wrong, is what the Navy is telling the world what it thinks of its Sailors. It is what it is telling it Sailors what it thinks it needs to know. Really. It was on their page; it remains on their page. Silence is approval, so …

A basic question would be why we are taking things from “tumblinfeminist” – but that is just a matter of personal taste, I guess. The more perplexing point, and what leads to pondering – is what general message are we giving with this statement about why the post post went up?

Eliminating sexual assault from our ranks is an all hands effort. Here are some prevention tips –bottom line: don’t assault people

Again, wall postings on Facebook can be a little goofy – people post stuff on my wall all the time – but if I don’t like it, I take it off. However, this was kept on, so I guess we’re fine with it. If so – then let’s look at it in detail

Let’s roll in the wrong; point by point; what are we trying to say?

  1. Even though you have been through all the hoops and training it takes to be part of the Navy – and in spite of all the training we give you – we assume that; A. You have experience in using date rape drugs. B. You plan to use them. C. You don’t think that is a bad idea.
  2. When we tell you to have a “liberty buddy” or that “Shipmates don’t let Shipmates go on liberty alone.” we don’t really mean it. When Seaman Timmy and Petty Officer Fred see Airman Tammy staggering down an ally in Souda Bay at 0130; just let her go by herself. Yes, that is wise. We know that Timmy & Fred are more likely to rape Tammy than look at her as a Shipmate that needs help. After all, they might decide to save the the date rape drug they have and just take advantage of the fact she is drunk. That is what Sailors do, right?
  3. Timmy and Fred; I know that you recognize Tammy’s beater Ford broken down on Granby St. again. Make sure and remind yourself that your are supposed to pull over and help her, not rape her! Silly Sailors – always thinking rape.
  4. Timmy and Fred, when you get back to base we want you to remember something you may not know. When Tammy forgets to lock her doors or windows – that does not mean that she wants you to come in and show her what 6-months of galley food can do to a man’s gut. We know you go around checking other people’s doors and windows in the middle of the night, you pervert.
  5. I know it is a small space and you are so close – but when you get in an elevator with Tammy (all alone, and close, sharing the same air), don’t act like she just got in the shower with you. Really Timmy – didn’t we give you enough saltpeter?
  6. You may work on nuclear power plants or have the lives of your Shipmates in your hands on a daily basis – but we know you have no self control. Forget what I said in #2, always have a buddy with you who can tell you, “No Timmy, we’re not going to pull the car over, give Tammy a roofie then rape her. This is the new-Navy, we don’t do that anymore!”
  7. I have no idea what I am trying to say here. I think I am asking you to stop being an lying rapist – be an honest one instead. We know you are a rapist, we just think you should be an honest one.
  8. {NB: this is beyond parody.}
  9. {NB: I feel like I just lost 20 IQ points reading this. I apologize to the readers for bringing this abomination to your attention.}
  10. Don’t murder people. Don’t eat your children. Don’t wear white after Labor Day.

I am still at a loss what to do with this cancer of advice.

There are ways to address sexual assault, and there is good advice to provide to our Sailors. This fails on all accounts, and is actually counter-productive on many levels. Not only is the advice worthless for Sailors – it makes the Navy seem idiotic for having it on their wall.

BTW – before people say, “… but these things happen …” I would say, “Stop.” In my career I also had to deal with an E5 who was sexually molesting her elementary school son on a regular basis to the point he was a threat to his classmates – but we didn’t put out a “Don’t assault your children” memos in the Plan of the Day as a result.

Messaging fail of epic proportions.

UPDATE: The story is breaking out in to the larger media complex. Articles – and rather sad official USN responses – can be found here, here and here.

Posted by CDRSalamander in Navy, Policy | 57 Comments

I will readily admit that, after more than a quarter century of service in the United States Marine Corps, there are times when the quality of the Corps’ Officers and Marines still leaves me awestruck. This is true even after seeing it firsthand in an eight-month combat tour in Iraq. Now is one of those times. Danger Room has an article about the recent and very successful deployment of Third Battalion, Fifth Marines to the Sangin District of Helmand Province. Two paragraphs in particular leapt from the page.

To maintain morale, officers and NCOs kept their Marines focused on the need to defeat the enemy and avenge the fallen, and kept them active so that they did not have time to mope. “You really can’t prepare a Marine to lose his good buddy or see another one of his buddies with both his legs blown off,” said Captain Chris Esrey, commander of India company. “The best way to overcome that is to get right back out on a patrol the next day because it doesn’t happen every time you go out.”

The insurgents were similarly surprised by the behavior of their new enemies. In the face of numerous and often gruesome casualties, Marine officers refused to reduce the frequency of patrols into dangerous areas or decrease the fraction of patrols conducted on foot, which remained constant at ninety-five percent to the end of the year. When confronted by insurgent fighters, the Marines did not fire warning shots or back away in order to avoid harming civilians or insurgents, but instead kept fighting until the enemy was destroyed or driven off.

Read those words, and read them again. The quality of Officer, SNCO, and NCO leadership required to do such things cannot be overstated. Nor can the courage and professionalism of the junior Marines, who left the wire daily with the near-certainty of contact with a dangerous and deadly enemy.

In today’s military filled with risk-aversion, promotion and emphasis of goals and missions of little or no relevance to combat readiness or efficiency, process over product, and this or that management fad that costs millions to tell us things we already know, EVERYONE who wears Officers’ insignia should ask themselves whether they could step into the boots of LtCol Morris, or his company and platoon commanders, and have the courage to make the decisions, have the strength of character to lead, as those men did.

Because of the high rate at which 3/5 was suffering casualties, higher headquarters encouraged General Mills to withdraw the battalion from Sangin for a period of physical and psychological recuperation. Mills and Morris both rejected the proposal. The Marines of 3/5 said that they wanted to finish what they had started, and Mills and Morris thought that pulling them out in the middle of the struggle would be the most demoralizing action possible.

For those wearing stars, or about to wear stars, ask yourselves those same questions regarding Lieutenant General (sel) Richard Mills. These are your measuring sticks.

Because what the Officers and Marines of 3/5 did is what being in the profession of arms is, in the end, all about.

Everything else is window dressing.

h/t Lex.


Tough Duty!

July 2011


An old Navy Chief and an old Marine Gunny were sitting at the VFW arguing about who’d had the tougher career.

“I did 30 years in the Corps,” the old Marine declared proudly, “and fought in three of my country’s wars.”

“Fresh out of boot camp I hit the beach at Okinawa, clawed my way up the blood-soaked sand, and eventually took out an entire enemy machine gun nest with a pistol and a single grenade.”

“As a Sergeant, I fought in Korea alongside Chesty Puller. We pushed through the enemy inch by bloody inch in the freezing cold, always under a barrage of artillery and small arms fire. ”

“Finally, as a Gunny Sergeant, I did three combat tours in Vietnam. We humped through the mud and razor grass for 14 hours a day, plagued by rain and mosquitoes, ducking under sniper fire by day and mortars all night. In a firefight, we’d fire until our arms ached and our guns were empty, then we charge the enemy with bayonets and e-tools!”

“Lucky bastard,” said the Chief, “nuthin’ but shore duty!”

H/T to Mister Burnett


The General Board

July 2011


If you look to the performance of the US Navy in World War II – the ships that made victory happen came out of the shipbuilding programs of the 1920s and 1930s. At a time with no computers or modern communication equipment – and working through naval treaty limitations as well as the financial challenges of the Great Depression – we saw incredible innovation and steadily improving ship designs. Why?

A lot of the credit is given to something the Navy had then, but does not have now; The General Board.

What was The General Board, what did it do, and is the Navy today suffering for the lack of one?

Join fellow USNI Bloggers CDR Salamander and EagleOne this Sunday, 10 JUL at 5-6pm EST to discuss the issue and more for the full hour with CDR John T. Kuehn, USN (Ret.), PhD – author of the USNI Press book, Agents of Innovation, and and earlier Sterling book Eyewitness Pacific Theater with Dennis Giangreco.

If you can’t join us live, you can always listen to the archive at the link, or subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes.

Ex-USS Saratoga (CV-60) sits alone now, at Pier 1 at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. Her sister, the more famous Forrestal (CV-59) has been towed to Philadelphia, and likely the scrapyard. A similar fate probably awaits Sara, as the immense cost of preparation and upkeep for museum ships is too formidable for most, particularly a ship as large as she. Yet, even as she rises and falls with the cold tide, Saratoga retains a regal majesty that only the breakers will be able to erase.

USS Saratoga was once an engineering marvel beyond compare, and when commissioned in 1956 dwarfed her older sisters of the Essex class, and even the late-war Midways. The second of the four Forrestal-class “supercarriers”, her class would set the standard for American carrier design that remains with us to this day. Displacing more than 76,000 tons fully loaded, she could make 34 knots, and handle nearly one hundred aircraft. The photo below shows her alongside Essex, CV-9, and the difference in size is striking, despite fewer than a dozen years between designs.

Saratoga spent most of her career in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and her hospital spaces treated wounded from USS Liberty (AGTR-5) in 1967. Sara did make her way to Yankee Station in May of 1972, where she would support combat operations in Vietnam until January, 1973. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Saratoga projected American power into the Atlantic and Eastern Mediterranean, where she often found herself facing off with units of the Soviet fleet, and maintained the edgy peace of the Cold War. In 1990, Sara headed to the Persian Gulf, where her aircraft flew in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Even toward the end of her life, after 38 years in commission, she remained one of the most powerful and sophisticated warships afloat, but had been surpassed by her newer nuclear sisters. On 30 September 1994, Saratoga was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list. Since then, her hulk has been towed to its present location from Philadelphia, losing her tophamper, and having been extensively stripped as a parts source for units still in commission.

Yet, weather-beaten and forlorn as she is now, some 55 years after her commissioning and nearly 17 years after her crews lowered her ensign for the final time, ex-Saratoga still hints at the power which once roared from her decks. Though she will be gone soon, she is worth remembering for what she was in the prime of her service career.

Galrahn has a very interesting post on the subject of a story by Reuters that a low-profile UN report verifies the link between Somali pirates and, you guessed it, Al Qaeda. Go check it out. Well worth the read. I will elaborate here on some things that have been bandied about from time to time.

In that Reuters story, some revealing words from the UN Special Envoy to Somalia:

John Steed, the principal military adviser to the U.N. special envoy to Somalia and head of the envoy’s counter-piracy unit, said links between armed pirate gangs and Somalia’s al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were gradually firming.

“The payment of ransoms just like any other funding activity, illegal or otherwise, is technically in breach of the Somalia sanctions regime if it makes the security situation in Somalia worse,” said Steed.

“Especially if it is ending up in the hands of terrorists or militia leaders — and we believe it is, some directly, some more indirectly,” said Steed, a retired military officer.

To any who doubt that this money-making venture has grown exponentially of late, the next paragraph should erase that doubt.

Ransom demands have risen steadily in recent years. According to one study, the average ransom stood at $5.4 million in 2010, up from $150,000 in 2005, helping Somali pirates rake in nearly $240 million last year.

Certainly, the discussion of where the money is going is pertinent. However, the most salient remark from Galrahn’s post is his assertion that “Piracy just took a strange turn, and it would be nice to hear from someone whose title begins with “Admiral” or whose name is Ray Mabus.” While I might disagree with the word “just” in the first part of the sentence, the second assertion surely is true. Certainly this had to be an eventuality that we were planning for. If not, then serious examination of our Navy’s uniformed and civilian leadership is in order.

As far back as August, 2009, the issue of such a link was discussed, along with the true intent of the Somali pirates. Comments there, and at USNI’s Piracy Conference in the fall of 2010 were at times dismissive of the link between the pirates and Al Shabaab, even though connections between Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda had been trumpeted by both organizations more than a year earlier, and Al Shabaab control of the coastal villages was alo well known .

Our hesitation in making the logical connection between a very-high-payoff, low risk venture and those who seek funding sources for their operations (and would not hesitate to coerce the unwilling into cooperation) always struck me as extremely naive. To discount the likelihood of the eventual link between Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, and the Somali pirates is to refuse to understand the nature of our enemies, the ways in which international criminal enterprises work, and the lengths to which the United States and other nations should be willing to go in dealing with the pirates themselves and those who pull the strings ashore in Somalia and elsewhere. I remarked in August of 2009 that,

The old phrase “you’re known by the company you keep” is pertinent here. Al-Shabaab, and by proxy, Al-Qaeda, have major influence here. If the situation didn’t start out that way, it has certainly evolved there. Natural enough, to this point there has been immense profit to be gained with very little risk.

Indeed, according to the UN, there is proof that precisely the above has come to pass. It should be a surprise to nobody, but likely will be a big surprise to many. All I can prescribe for those folks is viewing The Godfather, Part II over and over again. It was simply a matter of time until Al Qaeda tapped into the revenue stream of Somali piracy. And it has likely been occurring for far longer than we can offer “proof” of.

Back to Galrahn’s point. What say you, Navy Leadership? State Department? Why are we finding out from Reuters? Let us hear from you on the subject, and what the intent is to deal with it.

Members of the International Somalia Contact Group held an ad hoc meeting on the Financial Aspects of Somali Piracy in Seoul last week. The meeting, the second one since the first session in Washington in March, was focused on the growing need for international cooperation to stop the flow of money to Somali pirates, prevent money laundering and gather information about the de facto powers behind the pirates, that is, the instigators of pirate activities and their sources of funds. The 80 participants, under the stewardship of Moon Ha-young, Korea’s ambassador for global counterterrorism cooperation, agreed to build a database on intelligence concerning Somali pirates and their financiers. All member governments of the Contact Group will be given access to the information in the database when it is completed and are encouraged to increase teamwork within their law enforcement agencies when investigating piracy.

Such proactive and cohesive action by several nations is a positive step toward countering the ever increasing threat of Somali pirates. However, as I had argued in this op-ed for The African Executive, piracy is a relatively cheap activity making it difficult to crack down on all the sources of illicit funds. Additionally, targeting pirates’ source of funds may have undesired impacts if they join hands with branches of al Qaeda or al Shabaab operating in the region to replace their lost income. Therefore, it is essential to also consider alternative methods, such as using the threat of sanctions and freezing corporate assets in cases of non-compliance, to stop ship owners from paying ransoms. This will serve as an incentive for shipping companies to choose safer sailing routes around the Cape of Good Hope and hire armed personnel to accompany their crew while long term measures that focus on helping Somalia and its neighbors achieve economic and political stability begin to take effect. The Office of Foreign Assets Control in the United States has taken explicit steps in the direction of sanctions and freezing assets of shipping companies that give in to pirate demands but the Contact Group must encourage other countries to do the same because US policies in isolation are unlikely to prove beneficial.


You will see the words in many places on many sites today. But this day, of all of them, take the time to really read them, and understand their context. The words were written by highly educated men who stood to gain most (except liberty) by not writing them, and lose all by signing the document that contained them. Along with Lincoln’s speeech at Gettysburg, and his Second Inaugural, our Constitution’s preamble, Martin Luther King’s great oratory, and the Inaugural words of John Kennedy, these words are American political scripture. And despite only being two sentences in length, they comprise the greatest political treatise ever written by man;

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Our precious freedoms are the envy of the civilized world, and the nemesis of the uncivilized. With all the time for family and friends, hot dogs and fireworks, say a prayer of thanks for these blessings, and for those of courage who secured them over the 235 years of this nation’s existence.

Happy Independence Day!

We have, many of us, the image in our heads of Somali pirates as poor, ragged, skinny teenagers with AK-47s and RPGs, crowded into leaky skiffs, somewhat ineffectually attempting the hijacking of merchant ships which pass close enough to the shore to be accessible. The smarter money has known for some time that this is hardly the case. Those “pirates” in the boats represent the very expendable low-cost labor end of an increasingly sophisticated and technologically capable system that has seen its profits soar in recent years, despite international efforts to clamp down on piracy off Africa’s horn. Which brings me to this very interesting article from Neil Ungerleider over at FastCompany.

It seems some of those massive ransoms collected by the pirates off Somalia in recent years is being reinvested in new technology, heavier and more capable weapons, and people with technical and language skill sets that have enhanced the effectiveness of pirate operations substantially. From the article:

In addition to random attacks on cargo and passenger ships, Somali pirates are increasingly relying on the use of GPS systems, satellite phones, and open-source intelligence such as shipping industry blogs in order to figure out the location of ships.

However, the most interesting weapon in the Somalian arsenal to western observers is the use of pirate-operated radar to locate targets at sea. Pirate “mother ships” with radar and advanced weapons capabilities have strayed far beyond the Horn of Africa to locales as far-flung as Madagascar, India, and the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, even with radar from pirate “mother ships”, it is a big ocean, but considerably smaller when you know where to look. Not surprisingly, penetration of shipping company and port operations data bases has been possible with money to pay those who have the capabilities, as well as:

…translators who interpret the bulk of information that filters in through the automatic tracking devices. These men, though not involved in the actual hijacking, decipher and break down information for the team. The ‘foot soldiers’ are given instructions that most often turn out to be successful. The men who call themselves Somali Coast Guards also invest time on the World Wide Web tracking and gathering vital information. For example, the pirate financiers visit the Maritime Bureau Website to check what strategies have been put in place to curtail their activities. They, in turn, feed the gang.

The article’s final paragraph should serve as warning to those whose philosophy is to ignore or pay off the pirates.

According to the European Union, a sharp uprise in Somali pirate attacks is expected in 2011, including the use of machine guns as an everyday weapon. Western governments are, in turn, stepping up their game–Britain is taking steps to provide merchant ships with weapons, which would be the first time since World War II that this has happened.

Such an appraisal, coinciding with US drone strikes in Somalia against Al Shabab targets, is cause for concern. The statement from the New York Times article that “American intelligence and military officials warn of increasing operational ties between the Shabab and the Qaeda franchise in Yemen, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or A.Q.A.P.” should stand as a warning that those who are gleaning profits from the pirates are more than just Somali warlords.

At last autumn’s USNI Piracy Conference, a number of speakers showed great hesitation in acknowledging any link whatever between Somali pirates, Al-Shabab, and Al Qaeda. However, to many of us in the audience who had watched our enemies for some time, and had in some cases fought actively against them either in uniform or as a part of our national security apparatus, the linking of these entities was a foregone conclusion. If the enterprise of piracy in Somali waters (and now well beyond) were profitable enough to be a major funding source for AQAP (or AQ in Yemen), they would involve themselves whether they were welcome and supported by the Somali pirates or not.

In his remarks at the USNI Piracy Conference, Keynote Speaker Stephen Carmel of MAERSK made a number of assertions to reinforce his notion that the Somali piracy problem was not significant enough to warrant anything but business as usual, which meant paying for ransomed ships and trying to avoid areas of known pirate activity. Some of those assertions have been proven tragically wrong in recent months, including this one:

The Somali pirates are a pure hostage for ransom crowd. That means… that the hostages always get released and generally are not horribly mistreated… I am not making light of the experience of those held hostage by Somali pirates – I am simply noting that the treatment of hostages at the hands of Barbary pirates was infinitely worse.

Which certainly calls into question Mr. Carmel’s entire argument.

So, Somali pirates are not a direct threat to US national interests, nor a significant threat to the international system of commerce. Somali pirates are also far less well funded, and far less capable of evolving into a large threat…

From a strict standpoint of the balance sheet, Mr. Carmel’s arguments may remain valid for some time, though for how long is unclear, and whether it is wise to wait for the tipping point is also a valid question. However, when improvements in capabilities that can exponentially increase piracy’s reach and impact are brought into play, especially when that reach means a greater potential as a funding source for our enemies, then the problem of Somali piracy has long since ceased to be one of the balance sheet. Advocacy of Dane-Geld as a means of minimizing such threats has little track record of success, and plenty of examples of a disastrous contrary result. With an adaptive and opportunistic enemy whose benefit from Somali piracy is becoming increasingly more direct, it is well past time to make serious our efforts to combat piracy in those waters.

Once again, that master of describing the human condition provides us a warning passed down through the millenia:

We never pay anyone Dane-Geld,

No matter how trifling the cost,

For the end of that game is oppression and shame,

And the nation that pays it is lost.

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