A US military commander warned Thursday that Somali pirates were skirting pressure by moving deeper into Asian waters and said the only solution was to restore stability in the African nation.
Admiral Robert F. Willard
Suspected Somali pirates sit with their faces covered during a media interaction on board an Indian Coast guard ship off the coast of Mumbai on February 10. A US military commander warned Thursday that Somali pirates were skirting pressure by moving deeper into Asian waters and said the only solution was to restore stability in the African nation.
Admiral Robert Willard, head of the 300,000-troop Pacific Command, voiced exasperation at years of naval efforts to stem the flow of pirates from Somalia -- which has been effectively without a central government for two decades.
"It's remarkable that 28 nations combining their maritime forces together in the Gulf of Aden have not been able to defeat this challenge," Willard said at the Asia Society on a visit to Washington.
Due to the naval campaign, "the pirates are just ranging farther out into the Indian Ocean -- hundreds of miles, quite literally," Willard said.
Willard said the pirates posed particular problems for Maldives, a sparsely populated Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,192 tiny coral islands best known for its upmarket beach resorts.
Willard said he recently visited Maldives and President Mohamed Nasheed told him that "his problem was that either abandoned pirates or pirates that were lost in the middle of the night in their activities, or otherwise detached from their motherships, were now landing in the Maldives."
The commander also saw problems with piracy in southern India and as far away as the South China Sea.
Foreign navies have stepped up operations off the Gulf of Aden since 2008. But Willard said that there was ultimately not a naval solution.
"I don't think you're ever going to defeat this threat at the far extremes of their operations on the sea lanes," Willard said.
"But rather you have to go to the centers of gravity -- the source on land in the Horn of Africa -- and put a stop to that," he said.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Admiral Willard, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command says Somali pirates threaten Asia. Reported as Somali pirates heading to Asia: US: