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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Navies in the "silent war"


As reported in Silent war against terror waged in dangerous waters:
The seizure of 15 British navy personnel Friday was a stark reminder of the unheralded conflict being fought by the United States and its allies on the high seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, patrols of the volatile waterways in the Middle East and East Africa were stepped up. Their targets are human trafficking, drug and oil smuggling, piracy, weapons-running and possible infiltration by terrorists into Somalia and Yemen -- criminal activities that, military leaders fear, provide cover and financial support for international organizations such as al Qaeda.
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Although Germany and France opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, both participate in a task force attached to the U.S. 5th Fleet, which takes part in that war from the Persian Gulf. How do the Germans feel about taking part in an open-ended operation so far from the North Atlantic?

"We don't do America's work," said Chief Petty Officer Rebecca Steinhardt, 23, the ship's weapons controller. "Since the 11th of September, there were terrorists found in Germany, so it's everyone's war."

The Bremen's skipper, Capt. Andreas Jedlicka, said intelligence showed that links existed between training camps in Somalia and militant havens in the Arabian Peninsula. "Terroristic activities are not only about the United States," he said.

Scherrer, the Bremen's operations officer, noted that Germany's economy depends on global trade, particularly shipping from Asia -- the vast majority of which passes through the task force's area. In his eyes, the Bremen is defending Germany and the sea lanes it relies on, not merely falling in with America's global war on terror.
Oh, yeah. Those sea lanes.

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