Sunday, December 21, 2008

Somali Pirates: "Multilateral Solution"

Gary Anderson looks at how to fix the Somali pirates issue in a Small Wars Journal op-ed "A Multilateral Solution to Somali Piracy" (pdf):
We need to avoid becoming entrapped in a “let Uncle Sam do it” situation just because we have the world’s largest and most powerful navy which has excess capacity because Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly land wars. This is why we need to avoid those who call for a blockade of Somalia. Blockades are expensive things. The coast of Somalia rivals the size of the American southeastern seaboard, and it took hundreds of Union ships to blockade the Confederacy during our Civil War. We have the only navy in the world that could do such a thing and not one U.S. merchant ship has so far been lost to the Pirates. The Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Turks, Chinese, and other seagoing nations have much more at stake than we do; this problem is ripe for a coalition solution, and it can be solved; they need to create an effective coalition in order to solve the problem.

The best way to stop the Somali pirates is not at sea through convoys and blockades; we are not dealing with the German High Seas Fleet or even the Confederate Navy here. The best way to do it is to seize and occupy their fishing village bases along the northern coast of Somalia, which the UN resolution authorizes, and then give the locals something productive to do with themselves besides brigandage. This does not need to be done by U.S. Marines, but it will take good troops. The Somalis like to fight and they are entrepreneurial; if they are not given something productive to do once a coalition stops piracy, they will make armed resistance to an occupation force pay as they did from 1993 to 1995.
He's not wrong. But the lack of interest by any civilized nation in occupying even a small part of Somalis leads to the question: "Where will the coalition forces to serve as occupation troops for the fishing villages and act as "martyr magnets" will come from?"

The second major issue would involve sustaining such forces in the field...

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