February 22, 2011

Time for Naval, Air Strikes Against Pirates in Somalia

Four Americans on a private yacht captured by Somali pirates have been killed by their captors. News is understandably sketchy at this point, but it appears that at least some of the pirates may have been engaged by U.S. naval forces that were shadowing the vessel after the murders.

The international community has allowed pirates to operate off Somalia for far too long, and has done nothing to eradicate the threat.

While pirates operate off the coast, the simple fact of the matter is that they cannot exist without a support structure onshore. These pirate havens are well known to the governments of the world, and poorly defended. Bombardment from the air or sea could easily reduce the pirate strongholds to rubble, sink the "motherships" that pirates use to extend their range offshore, and of course, eliminate the pirates themselves.

Among this nation's first foreign policy decisions were two small wars (the Barbary Wars) against African pirates. Piracy that had existed for centuries in the region came to a halt only when overwhelming force was brought to bear. Two hundred years later, the same motivations encourage the pirates of Somalia, and only the same forceful response can end the modern age of African piracy.

Such a campaign can easily be won with minimal or even non-existent U.S. casualties. It merely remains to be seen if the Obama Administration will decide to stand for American interests, or instead remain ever deferential to any thuggish entity that claims Islam for its inspiration.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 22, 2011 11:05 AM

It is time we resumed the old penalties for piracy. It speaks well of the professionalism of our military that ANY of the pirates survived the raid on the vessel after boarding and finding the hostages dead.

Blockade the Somali pirate ports and sink ANY vessel attempting to enter or leave them. To keep the blockading naval crews amused, let them destroy at whim any unoccupied vessels on shore. Lather, rinse, and repeat until there are no vessels.

For pirate vessels and motherships caught at sea, confiscate and sink same. No need to take the crews into custody, just release them on the spot. Do not provide them with additional transportation or flotation devices. In the alternative, provide them with air transport back to their home ports and release them there ... at altitude.

Posted by: Tully at February 22, 2011 11:38 AM

"From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea...."

Let 'em fight!

Posted by: arb at February 22, 2011 11:41 AM

I was going to ask if the Quest was flagged American, but then I remembered Piracy is a crime against civilization and all civilized nations have an obligation to destroy it where-ever it shows itself.

Where are the other "Civilized" nations?

Posted by: Gus Bailey at February 22, 2011 01:21 PM

Reactivate USS New Jersey and USS Missouri.

Posted by: SouthernRoots at February 22, 2011 01:29 PM

Employ the equivalent of the Q-ships of WWI & WWII -- decoy ships with substantial, but hidden, armament. Blow the scum out of the water when they make their play, and take no prisoners.

Posted by: Charlie at February 22, 2011 01:30 PM

No one in any of the present or former administrations has any desire nor the balls to undertake such a just cause, nor probably not in any future admins. either, for we have lost our moral compass.

Posted by: tjbbpgobIII at February 22, 2011 02:23 PM

Here are my ideas

Posted by: Professor Hale at February 22, 2011 03:23 PM

If pirated vessels were declared as salvage and any private organization could recover those ships and their contents as salvage with no risk for criminal trials regardless of how many were killed in the retaking...this might do the job as well.

Posted by: iconoclast at February 22, 2011 03:49 PM

What's so friggin' hard about this? Do this:

A swarm of A-10s over the offending home ports; shoot up EVERY ship there, without warning, without apology!

Posted by: Earl T at February 22, 2011 03:55 PM

Pedecaris alive or Rasauli dead!

Posted by: Andrew X at February 22, 2011 04:29 PM

The problem is that there isn't a 'home port' for the pirate fleet. It is a bunch of scattered fishing villages who have simply found that taking hostages is worth more than pull fish from the ocean, especially since they have religious justification for it.

The Q-ship thing has merits, but RPGs take out tanks, they will sink anything that is going to look like a civilian pleasure ship.

This administration will never want to risk the negative press of having a group of pirates hung by the neck off of the fantail. OTOH, look for a redeployment of RPVs off of Africa sometime soon. A Hellfire missile will sink a boat pretty well, and the ocean covers up all traces.

Posted by: MunDane at February 23, 2011 10:20 AM

The problem is that international law no longer supports appropriate penalties for piracy. In fact, you can get in a heap of trouble trying to give pirates a job stretching rope.

No, sadly, the best solution after you catch a bunch of pirates is to do what the Russians did -- release them. In a small boat. In the middle of the ocean. And to keep going after you do so, reminding yourself that their pleas for help when their boat overturns due to your wake is probably just a trick to give them another chance to hijack your ship.

Posted by: Mark L at February 23, 2011 10:25 AM

They need to put out baitships like they do with stolen cars. A ship which carries a special forces "SEAL" team. When pirates make their move then the Americans annailiate them. They would think twice about taking an American vessel.

Posted by: Evan Bradow at February 23, 2011 04:00 PM

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at February 24, 2011 11:47 PM

Charlie, I was thinking the same thing! I imagined some wealthy former navy guy who outfits a tramp cargo ship with hidden 25mm chain guns and gives these jerks what fer.

If we were at war with a maritime power harassing shipping, we would no doubt destroy the source of the problem and launch airstrikes against the onshore pirate bases. But what do I know?

Posted by: stuntborg at February 28, 2011 05:06 PM