Pirates be damned!

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January 18, 2009

Pirates be damned!

By John Denham

Piracy seem to be the item dejure. I have been exposed to a number of excellent pieces on the subject including Pacific Maritime Magazine’s  departing Jim Serrill’s. In summary they express:

  1. Why they are pirates
  2. it’s not really that bad
  3. but, we can handle it.

My understanding of piracy is:

Pirates are a form of terrorism that unlawfully operate at sea by their own rules, have no political agenda, pursue personal aggrandizement, lack scruples and respect only a force with greater firepower. The high sea are beyond any nations territorial jurisdiction although bits and pieces have been zoned for declared political interests. Customarily, the nationality of an ocean going vessel at sea is identified by the flag it flies, implying that flag-nation’s extended jurisdiction. Lacking any such identification and therefore without any jurisdiction they are nomadic, and if acting unlawfully pirates, and as such do not benefit from any form of protection. Regardless, the use of undisciplined force(s) in counteracting piracy is fraught with problems, specifically, public outcry. The consequences of inappropriate outcomes can be many, long lasting and some one is usually found to blame..

Discipline in a military organization is training, self control, efficiency and orderly conduct and when under fire, a seriously demanding human experience. Except for personal experience, the movie ZULU demonstrated it best. Winston Churchill stated, “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without effect.

A proper military commander has four protocols: 1.Mission,. 2.Objective, 3. Action, and 4. Analysis. These are prefaced by guidance, planning, training and rehearsal. A private contractor can ill afford to provide and support that extensive a program. Consequently they substitute by employing varied experience(s), motivated by money. Therefore I feel the only reliable solution, short and long term, is an organized, disciplined military response, their mission..

Warships, acting under the provision of the “right of approach” in the execution of authorized duties are not violating any nations’ jurisdiction, and, functioning in accordance within international laws.

Military personnel, by virtue of their mission, organization, training and control are accountable to the leadership provided. The rules of conduct and operation provided by higher authority are actionable. The mission leaders are aware of the task, scope, authority, responsibility and consequences i.e., they know what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when it has been accomplished.

My view is:. The present strategic error is in disbursing the ships. They should be provided a safe route in international waters and counter- piracy forces concentrate on sanitizing that area i.e., protect and maintain the freedom of the seas. Scattering the flock is providing the wolves easy prey Further, counter piracy forces should provide prominent and frequent displays of legal warnings by all available means declaring that any person, groups or vessels detected in the protection area will be stopped, searched , detained and unlawful weapons and vessels confiscated and destroyed and, suspected or identified pirates or persons acting unlawfully in the protected zone should be incarcerated and returned to their country of residence and, any identified pirate, person, group or vessel responding aggressively should be neutralized.

A force of less formidable warships with good sea keeping capability, maneuverability, appropriate weapons and personnel would be more appropriate rather than first line warships; exterminating flies with baseball bats is ineffective, however patrol and rotary wing aircraft are essential to provide immediate response and effective surveillance.

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