Archive for the 'Piracy' Category

They have been quiet recently – but you can’t count them out, so Somali pirates are discussed this week on Midrats in Episode 170: “Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy”:

We have heard from industry, military leaders, Marines, and private security providers, this Sunday we are going to look at piracy at a more personal level with director Thymaya Payne of the documentary, “Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy.”

He will be our guest for the full hour.

From the show promo:

The filmmakers have spent the past three years traveling to some of the world’s most violent locales in order to make this documentary on Somali piracy, Stolen Seas. Utilizing exclusive interviews and unparalleled access to real pirates, hostages, hostages’ relatives, ship-owners, pirate negotiators and experts on piracy and international policy, Stolen Seas presents a chilling exploration of the Somali pirate phenomenon.

The film throws the viewer, through audio recordings and found video, right into the middle of the real-life hostage negotiation of a Danish shipping vessel, the CEC Future. As the haggling between the ship’s stoic owner Per Gullestrup, and the pirate’s loquacious negotiator, Ishmael Ali, drags on for 70 days, these two adversaries’ relationship takes an unexpected turn and an unlikely friendship is born.
Stolen Seas is an eye opening refutation of preconceived ideas on how or why piracy has become the world’s most frightening multi-million dollar growth industry.

Join us live (or download later) here at 5pm Sunday, 7 Apr 13.



 

Claude Berube has accomplished a masterful work with the release today of his most recent novel, THE ADEN EFFECT. Berube’s story is fast-paced, action packed, and full of wonderfully developed characters supporting a believable but creative narrative that keeps the pages turning.

The story follows Connor Stark, a former naval officer who lives anonymously in the rugged Hebrides of Scotland after having been dishonorably discharged until he is called back to service by the American Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, to assist with countering the threat of pirates as she is embroiled in negotiations intended to gain access to oil fields off the coast of Socotra. Stark soon discovers a greater threat to the region and the country after uncovering ties with a prominent shipping company and Yemen’s ruling family which leads to a deeper chance discovery that carries the action even further.

From drug trafficking, to Somali pirates to high stakes politics, Berube has knocked this one out of the park. Steven Pressfield was spot on when he commented that the author “has given us the toughest, brainiest, and most interesting new hero since Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The Aden Effect is the think man’s military thriller.”

Sales of The Aden Effect start today. I highly recommend you pick up a copy to give yourself an entertainment alternative from all of the electoral theater that’s forthcoming. Unlike this year’s politics, this story will not disappoint.

 



It seems that USNS Rappahannock has fired on a small craft that ignored warnings and closed with her in the Persian Gulf. From the NBC News article:

The crew aboard the Navy ship sent out repeated warnings, including radio calls, flashing lights, lasers and ultimately warning shots from a 50-caliber machine gun. When the boat failed to heed the warnings, the crew was ordered to open fire with the 50-caliber gun.

It will be critically important that US civilian and military leadership emphasizes the above, and plasters images and accounts of USS Cole all over the news immediately and persistently for the next several weeks. We should be very proactive in letting the world know that there is a terror threat to US warships and auxiliaries posed by small craft, and any such vessel that ignores the warnings as were summarized above will be fired upon and destroyed.

We mustn’t begin the oh-so familiar course of meekly apologizing for having to kill those who threaten us. If we do, we will see many more actions such as this, likely designed to cause us to fit ourselves for ever-tighter handcuffs and more restrictive rules of engagement in combat on land and sea, which the enemy will use to increasing advantage to exploit his strengths and our weaknesses. On the contrary, we must be firm and aggressive with our reaction to the incident. Actions without strong narrative are subject to interpretation.

If the United States, and in particular the United States Navy, has any sense of true ‘strategic messaging”, we will let the rest of the world know that, should another small craft ignore similar warnings, it, too, will be fired upon. And any death or injury that results from such incidents is the responsibility of those who willfully ignore the warnings, and on those who likely have sent them.

 

 



Every era has had something that service members came of age with. From the Dreadnaught era to the advent of submarines; the Sailors of the interwar period saw naval aviation come of age; Jets after the close of the second world war, guided missiles and nuclear propulsion.

For my generation, among the first of the 21st Century, we have seen the initial steps towards cyber capabilities and the mass adoption of unmanned systems. But, we’ve seen something more as well tangentially related to cyber: blogging and the online discourse writ large concerning the maritime services.

I am willing to say that at no other time has the discourse been as important for the maritime services as it is today. Certainly, it has never been more well appointed or contributed to. From those with an earnest interest in naval and maritime affairs, to deckplate Sailors and junior officers, to even the most senior admirals and generals. Their voices are present and count towards our understanding of ourselves, profession and the way forward for the Nation and Services.

For five years Information Dissemination has played a vital role in this discourse and enhanced discourse at USNI/USNI blog. To Raymond and the gang at Information Dissemination thanks for five years of great posts and for adding much appreciated voices to the dialog. Cheers!

 



European Union forces on Tuesday attacked a Somali pirate base for the first time, using a combat helicopter to strafe several of the signature fiberglass skiffs that the pirates use to hijack ships.
***
Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Sherriff, a spokeswoman for the European Unions anti-piracy force, said that the European forces destroyed at least five skiffs that were still on land with small arms fire and that the attack lasted a couple of minutes. This is a fantastic opportunity,’’ she said. “What we want to do is make life more difficult for these guys.’’

No “boots on the ground” – but a necessary move to slow down the pirates.

Now, pirate whining as reported by the AP at Somali pirate: EU airstrike destroyed equipment:

A burning pirate skiff from a previous counter-piracy event

A Somali pirate says an airstrike by the European Union naval force patrolling the Indian Ocean has destroyed speed boats, fuel deports and an arms store.

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said Tuesday the attack on Handulle village in the Mudug region will cause a setback to pirate operations. The village lies about 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of Haradheere town, a key pirate lair. There were no reports of deaths in the attack, Hussein said.

Oh, no! Not a “setback!”

Meanwhile, out at sea, Turkish forces took on an apparent pirate “mother ship” – as reported here:

Turkish commandos have arrested 14 pirates thought to be from Somalia off the coast of Oman and freed seven Yemeni sailors they were holding hostage, the army said on May 13. A helicopter of the frigate Giresun, which operates with NATO forces in the region, spotted the boat on May 11 around 190 nautical miles from the Omani coast, the army said in a statement on its website. Commandos stormed the boat and seized nine assault weapons, a rocket launcher and other materials, said the statement, which was accompanied by photographs showing the suspects with their arms in the air as the raid began.

More from Saturn5 over at his blog, Bosphorus Naval News (more photos at his site and here):

The S-70B Seahawk helicopter attached to TCG Giresun spotted the dhow at 14:50, 190 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen. The dhow acting as a mother ship was stopped by the helicopter and TCG Giresunarrived at the dhow and the naval special forces team boarded the dhow at 17:00. 14 Somali pirates were arrested and 7 Yemeni fisherman, the original crew of the dhow were freed by naval commandos.

Taking the fight to the pirates!

Well done to all involved!

(cross-post from EagleSpeak)



Join us at 5 pm (Eastern U.S.) for Episode 116 The Irregular History of Warfare 03/25 on Midrats at Blog Talk Radio:

There is an echo that regular listeners to Midrats are very familiar with; the critical importance of an understanding of history in the profession of arms.

More than almost any other field, there is nothing new under the sun. The tools may change, but the play of power, economics, intellect, and drive which makes the difference in war and therefor human history remain the same.

A professional must reach back to Sun Tsu and Alexander the Great … but he must also look closer.

To discuss for the full hour will be returning guest LCDR Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong. He recently returned from deployment as the Officer-In-Charge of an MH-60S Armed Helo Detachment which conducted operations with the BATAAN ARG and 22D MEU in support of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in the 6th Fleet AOR and maritime security/counter-piracy operations in the 5th Fleet AOR.

When BJ isn’t off playing helicopter pilot, he is an occasional naval historian. His research extends over the subjects of naval history and irregular warfare. He is the author of numerous articles including “The Most Daring Act of the Age: Principles for Naval Irregular Warfare” in The Naval War College Review, and “Nothing Like a Good Maritime Raid” in USNI’s Proceedings.

His article “Immediate Redress: The USS Potomac and the Pirates of Quallah Batoo” is forthcoming in the May issue of Small Wars and Insurgencies.

You can listen live by clicking on this link, or download the show later from the same link or on iTunes.



Let’s get this list going.

As an observation and a nod, not a criticism (of course) of our Vice President Joe Biden – who observed that, “You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.”

Because this will be a list, compiled into one blog post, whatever you put in the comments (respectfully and to the point of the post) we will incorporate into the post – then delete. Please submit your comments to us here or via [email protected] or give us your submissions via Twitter  or Facebook . And when the first 500 hits it, [UPDATE]: WE WILL MAKE A BRACKET COMPETITION.

Give us your best of the best who were audacious – winners or losers – those who dared. We will update the list daily, no repeats – so dig deep when your favorite has already been mentioned.

Listed in order of submission and raw commentary (and without attribution and to protect the innocent):

500. SEAL mission per Vice President Joe Biden: Audacious on the part of our Commander in Chief, President Obama.

499. Japanese attack on Pearl was an Orange/Blue war-gamer exercise 6 or 7 years before 1941.

498. Entebbe, anyone? Or one might even argue that the raid on Bin Laden’s compound would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the even more audacious (if ultimately unsuccessful) plan of Operation Eagle Claw.

497. Lets start early. 1519 Hernan Cortez landed 600 Spaniards and about a dozen horses at Cozumel. He BURNED HIS SHIPS so there was no way to escape, and he and his men had to fight to the death. He led his men to destroy the entire Aztec Empire something that no invader had done in over 6 centuries. In the process he actually convinced the Aztecs that he was THEIR GOD.

496. Henry V at Agincourt – Nope, too early. 

496. (Do-over) ‎”Kedging“- How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!

495.

Dare I say George Washington before the Battle of Trenton? Christmas Day 1776.

George Washington Crosses the Delaware in the dark of night to attack the British in Trenton.

For me there is one and only one #1. Without it an army driffs away, an idea dies, a piece of paper signed at the greatest personal risk becomes meaningless. General George Washington’s decision to attack Trenton on the morning after Christmas 1776 with a night march of impossible proportions couples not only audaciousness, but the greatest risk. For me it is the single most important moment without even a close second in American history, and for the idea of freedom as the world knows it today, possibly. My own telling here: http://blog.projectwhitehorse.com/2010/12/christmas-1776-the-crossing/

494, Eben Emael and the raid to free Mussolini

493. CDR “Red” Ramage, USS Parche, Pacific, 1944: as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_1940_wwii/ramage.html

492. Col Robin Olds, Operation BOLO Mig Sweep, North Vietnam, 1967 http://user.icx.net/~arlisk/bolo.html

491. Doolittle Raid Doolittle Raid, 1942…(while a japanese radio broadcast stated, almost to the moment of the attack, how Japan would never be attacked, with air raid sirens suddenly going off-a “baghdad bob” moment)…which in turn, caused grave consternation, and thus triggered rash action by the Imperial Japanese Navy, resulting in catastrophic loss at Midway, with which they would lose their offensive initiative for the remainder of the war…despite efforts to regain it at Guadalcanal and others.

490. Admiral David Farragut leads his ships into Mobile Bay, 1864. Approaching the mine field laid by the Confederates the USS Tecumseh (first in the battle line) hit a mine and exploded, shocking the entire fleet. The USS Brooklyn stopped dead in the water, and the Captain asked the Admiral for instructions. Farragut ordered his ship, the Hartford, to steam around the Brooklyn and take the lead, signaling his forces “Damn the Torpedoes…Full speed ahead!” The entire column of 14 ships passed safely through the mine field and took Mobile.

489. April 22, 1778. At 11 p.m. on this day in 1778, Commander John Paul Jones leads a small detachment of two boats from his ship, the USS Ranger, to raid the shallow port at Whitehaven, England, where, by his own account, 400 British merchant ships are anchored.

488. Captain Charles Stewart of USS Constitution taking on two warships simultaneously in February 1815.

487. Though unsuccessful, Desert One was audacious.

486. How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!

485. Berlin Airlift

484. Mikawa at Savo

482. Market Garden (for a not-so-successful example)

481.Camp Century Greenland, 1959-1966.http://gombessa.tripod.com/scienceleadstheway/id9.html. A nuclear powered, under-the-ice-camp of about 200 men doing Arctic military research and testing the feasibility of siting ICBMs in the Greenland icecap. Project Iceworm was the code name for a US Army Top Secret proposal during the Cold War (a study was started in 1958), to build a major network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The ultimate objective of placing medium-range missiles under the ice – close enough to Moscow to strike targets within the Soviet Union – was kept secret from the Danish government.

480. Manstein Plan, France 1940 (replaced the original von Schlieffen plan), bait the allies into the low countries, cut them in half, and take the entire region in 6 weeks.

479. 1588, english channel, England vs Spain. English ships, more maneuverable, chipped away at the snds of the Spanish Armada’s ships (arranged in an arcing format) instead of taking them head-on. Forced the Spanish ships into disorder, and over a few days, whittled them down to near-insignificance…forced the Spaniards into a roundabout route around Scotland back home…but were destroyed in a storm before they could make it back, save 50…out of 130.
Audacious to say the least.

478. 1970, USAF and Army Special operations crash land an HH-3 helicopter in the middle of the Son Tay prison complex in North Vietnam in an attempt to rescue 65 American POWs. The operation is carried out perfectly, but the prisoners were moved a few months earlier to different accommodations.

477. Operation Dynamo, the “miracle of Dunkirk” in WW2

476. Battle of the River Plate, 1939. One of the greatest psyche-outs in naval annals. Spee literally pulverized UK’s Ajax, Achillies(NZ), and Exeter. One’s fire control was out, another’s main gunnery was out, the third was mauled but intact. GS was also damaged, and thinking the UKs 3 were still coming after him (most would’ve broke off by then), he made for Montevideo…where he was told to leave within 72hours. GS was relatively intact, despite some damage, and could have re-engaged. Thinking there were more heavies coming (via the radio traffic of the 3, who remained, even though they would have been cut to pieces had the GS came out to face them), Capt Langsdorf scuttled the Graf Spee without a battle. 3 days later he shot himself. Sheer audacity, and well executed…using nothing but guile.(the truly genius strategist finds ways to war without battle-Sun Tzu)

475. The bayonet charge of Joshua Chamberlain on July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top during the Gettysburg battle.

474. Bridge at Dong Ha

473. ‎1918 Battle of Belleau Wood

472. June 1995 rescue of Scott O’Grady

471. Battle of the Bulge, with the Germans scraping up enough armor, soldiers and fuel to give the US and Allied Armies a real good scare

470. USS ENGLAND taking the bull by the horns, and sinking 6 Japanese subs in less than 2 weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »



Many of the decision points in our lives can be sorted into four specific guiding questions. They provide an excellent means of evaluating our decision, our choices, and most effectively melding what we need with what we can afford. The questions can correspondingly apply to selecting a college, or to prospective employment. They work well when designing and building a house, or buying a car. Purchasing insurance. Even when deciding on marriage. What are these four questions?

  • What can I live with?
  • What can I live without?
  • What can’t I live with?
  • What can’t I live without?

Simple questions, really. But their answers require a good deal of thought.

They are also questions that should be asked when developing National Security Strategy, and its subcomponent, National Military Strategy. Those questions need to be asked as we determine the size, posture, and capability of our military and its supporting industrial base. Those four straightforward questions must eventually be asked of our Navy at a number of different levels.

The first is to address the size and capabilities/capacity of our Navy. What can we reasonably expect our Navy to do? For how long? In how many places at once? Hard questions that demand realistic and informed discussion. Currently, we have a Cooperative Strategy that cannot be executed under any but the most benign conditions on the world’s oceans. How long are we going to continue to make promises to ourselves and our allies that we cannot keep? What are we willing to have the courage to say openly that we cannot do with current capabilities?

Related to the above queries, but not identical, is to ask how big will our Navy be. Numbers tossed around in the previous decade and a half range anywhere from 340 down to the current 285-ish. (The disparity of 55 ships is equivalent to the strength of two Royal Navies, so it isn’t trivial.) Yet, the budget realities and the cuts made to shipbuilding projections point to a number closer to 260, if not lower, by the end of the decade. While it is true that 260 modern warships have tremendous combat power, it is also axiomatic that they cannot have the same global forward presence that 340 warships, some with somewhat less capability perhaps, can have.

The next level at which the four guiding questions need to be asked is the level of ship design and shipbuilding. This cannot be done in isolation, but must be informed by serious and exhaustive discussion regarding what Admiral Zumwalt called the “high-low mix”. How many capital ships of extensive capability are required for our missions, and how many of lesser but more appropriate capabilities does the Navy need? It is this level in particular that the Navy seems unable, in fact abjectly refuses, to answer. Not every ship needs every capability. When we believe it does, we end up with multi-BILLION dollar platforms chasing skiffs off the Horn of Africa, and a fleet so expensive that the risking of a single unit for a dangerous but necessary mission becomes all but unacceptable.

There has been much discussion of those issues in the pages of Proceedings, and among Naval Officers and strategic thinkers, Naval enthusiasts, and the legions of the Great Unwashed who blog the intertubes. One of the more interesting remarks in this regard was an assertion, perhaps rightly, that with its current philosophy and unwillingness to address the high-low question, the Navy is incapable of building a platform in between the under-gunned and unsurvivable LCS and an Aegis-capable Arleigh Burke.

So the question of the mix is not new. Captain Jerry Hendrix wrote of it with his Buy Fords, not Ferraris in the April 2009 Proceedings. Discussion at the last three USNI/AFCEA West conferences was rich with commentary. In this month’s Proceedings, Norman Polmar evokes Plan URR with his A Paradigm Shift, asking whether a much larger number of STOVL carriers would be more effective than a small and likely shrinking number of $15 billion dollar CVNs. (A hat-tip woulda been nice!) When I asked the question of high-low mix at this year’s Shipbuilding Panel in San Diego, the panelists all but admitted that there hadn’t been much discussion on the subject, and that the goal was still 313 ships.

The final level at which those four questions above need to be asked is in the experimentation with “Optimal Manning”. Anyone who even occasionally glances at this site knows my aversion to reducing crews of ANY equipment or weapon platform below what is required to drive, fight, fix, and maintain. The biggest decision for the Navy has to be defining “optimal”, and to whom the term applies. Is it “optimal” for the Navy leadership to show reduced manpower costs to our Congresscritters while our warships continue to experience serious maintenance issues and are not mission capable? Do we want crews so thin that there is only time for eating, sleeping, and operating? No time for training in the myriad skills and requirements of basic seamanship, damage control, or weapons proficiency? Do we want crews that have no ability to absorb any casualties without compromise of mission?

Again, difficult questions. Senior Navy leadership, and senior Defense Department officials, are going to have to make some hard calls. The answer is not to exhort our Sailors to do “more with less”. That bit of self-delusional platitude is the path to a head-on collision with the realities of combat, with usually catastrophic results.

The discussions must be informed, serious, and realistic. And they need to be soon. In May, USNI/AFCEA will be holding the Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach. The theme is “Joint and Coalition Forces; The Inflection Point. What to Hold and What to Fold?” Without these discussions, commentary will again be nearly blind speculation, akin to a hand of five-card stud, but deciding which cards to keep and which to discard without looking at them. If we continue to insist on playing our cards in such a way, we ought not to be surprised if the betting patterns of our potential adversaries change accordingly.



We do this a couple of times a year – yes, my friends, it is a “Midrats Free For All.”

Radio Central

Is there a topic we have not covered that you want Sal from “CDR Salamander” or me to address? Better yet – do you have a question you want us to answer?

Well, now is your chance. We’ll cover the topics of the week on our own – but for a change you can jump the line.

Call in or hop in the chat room this Sunday from 5-6pm EST, you never know what topic will come up.

Click here to join us. If you miss the show, you can listen to it or download from that same location or on iTunes.



As noted in an earlier post on my home site, the weather in the upper Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden is beginning to shift from monsoon back to that more favorable to the operations of pirates in the small open attack boats. After several weeks of slowed pirate activity, the pirates have managed to snag a new victim and her crew of 21.

Arrayed against the pirates are warships from the EU, NATO, China, India, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Russia and armed guard teams embarked on many merchant ships and fishing boats.

Naturally, it’s a good time to talk pirates. So, on Sunday, February 12 at 5 pm (Eastern U.S.), that’s what we are going to do.

Episode 110 The 21st Century Pirate Threat 02/12 by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:

The problem with piracy is not going anywhere. Each year in places like Somalia it is becoming part of the local economy. In areas near poorlly governed areas, it threatens the free flow of goods at market prices through the world’s sea lines of communication.

Is it an economic problem, a global security problem, a political problem, or a mixture of that and more?

What is the impact of international aid, military action, and the paying of ransom? What are the best solutions, and what is working and what is not working to slow the impact of piracy?

Join Sal from “CDR Salamander” and EagleOne (that’s me!) from “Eagle Speak” for the full hour to discuss these issues and more with their guest, Rear Admiral Terry McKnight, USN (Ret.), former Commander of the anti-piracy CTF-151 off the horn of Africa.

Here’s the link to listen live. If you miss the show you can download it later from here or from iTunes (podcasts under “Midrats”).



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