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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

US Navy and pirates

An interesting report here:
In ordering a U.S. Navy destroyer to capture and board a suspected pirate ship on the high seas in the Indian Ocean, the United States has fired a warning shot across the bow of would-be terrorists who might lash up with pirates in the Asia-Pacific region...

..."This was a maritime security operation," said a navy officer informed of events in the Indian Ocean. That effort, broadly defined, includes tracking thousands of ships, much as aircraft are monitored, knowing what cargoes the ships are carrying, driving off pirates when they attack a ship, or recovering the ship if it is seized...

...The issue is politically sensitive as leaders of Asia-Pacific nations have asserted that they do not want outside powers, notably the U.S., operating in their sovereign waters where many pirate assaults occur. Many Asian naval officers argue that combating piracy is the job of law enforcement, not navies.

Many U.S. Navy officers agree but assert that some Asian nations lack the proper ships -- small, high-speed and adequately armed -- to defeat or capture pirates. Moreover, coordination and intelligence sharing among the littoral nations has not been fully developed...

...On the other hand, U.S. President George W. Bush's war against terror is where much of the action is today and many U.S. Navy officers contend that their service needs to be involved, if for no other reason than to preserve its standing among the U.S. armed forces.

Thus, said a navy officer, "there is no overall policy on going after pirates." Rather, an internal debate seems to be rumbling through the navy.

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