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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Middle East Maritime Security Brief

From DoD News: Defense Department Briefing :
Q Admiral, Al Pessin with Voice of America. On your deterrence of drug smugglers and terrorists, can you give us some idea how big an issue this was, say, a year or so ago versus what you're seeing now that you're having this impact?

ADM. NICHOLS: Well, we don't know what we don't know, Al, is kind of the short answer of where we were a couple, three years ago. You know, prior to 9/11, we really hadn't leaned into this problem very much. Most of the maritime ops in the region here were focused on pre-OIF U.N. sanctions--maritime interdiction primarily against illegal Iraqi -- or oil that was being illegally smuggled out of Iraq. And while there was some focus on terrorist activity, it wasn't really looked at in an integrated way the way we do it now.

But I also say this: Based on what we have learned over the last year and a half to two years, we don't think that the maritime environment is routinely being used to move terrorists or terrorist-related equipment around the region. And again, we think it's partly because of deterrent effects that we've had; it's also because of our teaming with people ashore, such as Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, we work closely with MND-Southeast, and then coordinating and complementing our operations with other countries here in the region. So I can't put a number on it for you. One thing we have going in the headquarters is a process of campaign analysis which we're finishing up so we can better understand and quantify the kinds of issues that your question implies.

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