22 November 2008

Yarr, matey

More often than not, pirates are awesome.  Pirates of the Caribbean.  International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  NC State University's student body president was a man whose name on the ballot was literally, "The Pirate Captain".

But in Somalia, pirates are real, and they've been dominating the news as of recently.  What's interesting to note is that just as the land forces have been adapting to fighting Fourth Generation Warfare (state vs. non-state actors and irregular warfare), our sea forces are doing just the same.  

Indeed, just as America was impacted by the lack of ground troops in Iraq (until the Surge of 2007), which was born of the drawdown of the military after the Cold War, modern navies are facing the same phenomena.  For example, the Royal Navy of Britain, famed throughout the world for destroying piracy, is under a budget crunch after the Cold War and can only deploy a handful of frigates to hunt for pirates in the Horn of Africa.  

Some countries have paid ransom for the capture of their vessels, such as Saudi Arabia, which paid for the safe recovery of a $100 million oil tanker.  Other countries, such as India, have taken a far more aggressive approach, blasting one pirate "mother ship" out of the water.

Somalia has largely been a lawless country for the past fifteen years.  One should note that piracy--much like most of the activity we define as terrorism--emerges from areas where central government is weak or inefficient, and economic possibilities are limited.  Even the navies of the world are not immune to the shift in the patterns of conflict that Fourth-Generation Warfare has brought to the world.    

Links regarding the latest round of Somalian piracy can be found at Small Wars Journal online.  

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