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Pirates and Stingers

May 21, 2009
Lynx helicopter in the Falklands

Lynx helicopter in the Falklands

The popular conception of Stinger missiles are Soviet helicopters during the 1980s Afghan occupation crashing to earth due the effective use by the Mujahdeen of the advanced portable SAMs. Could the world-wide fleet of ships patrolling Somali waters now be at risk from the same lethal weapons? From the Korea Times:

According to an informed military source, the U.S.-led Combined Forces Command (CFC) in Seoul delivered a memo to the defense ministry’s information bureau on April 5. Carrying a picture of the U.S. Stinger missile system, the memo said intelligence was collected that Somalia’s pirates were presumed to have obtained the shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile from al-Qaeda, so South Korea’s military should be on alert and come up with proper countermeasures, the source said.

The information was subsequently distributed to the Cheonghae unit operating off the coast of Somalia and other related naval units here, he said. The source added the information is believed to have been gathered either from the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain or the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida.

The Stinger missile is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile developed in the United States for service in 1981. The shoulder-launched weapon has to date been responsible for downing 270 aircraft. The missile can hit targets flying as high as 3,500 meters at a speed of Mach 2. It has a range of 8 kilometers.

During the Gulf Wars, Western navies used Lynx helicopters armed with Sea Skua missiles to destroy large portions of Saddam’s small boat fleet. Britain also used them to good effect earlier in the Falklands. The Koreans deploy the Lynx on its warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden. The larger warships still expect to defend themselves with helos against asymmetrical threats such as small craft armed with explosives, suicide boats, although this new menace will call for some drastic countermeasures.

Cheonghae’s Lynx helicopter is known to be vulnerable to any anti-aircraft guided missile attacks since it has no missile countermeasure devices and sensors, including flare dispensers and radar warning receivers.

Can some one now say there is a link between terrorism and piracy, just like we finally admitted Al Qaeda was aiding and abetting the Iraq Insurgency? The West is in serious denial and this is in no way helping the war effort.

In a related story, we hear that the former USSR may have trained some of the Somali pirates. From Fairplay shipping via USNI blog:

Sergey Bliznyuk told the Ukrainian newspaper Gazeta Po-Kievskiy that he had personally come across some men he now believes are behind many hijackings. “There are many former military men among the Somalis who have perfected the tactics of sea combat,” he said. “The majority of these 40-50-year-olds were trained in the former Soviet Union.

“I myself taught at one point at a school in Baku [Azerbaijan], where we had 70-80 Somalis a year studying.”

Bliznyuk told the newspaper that Soviet officers had trained naval personnel from the government of President Siad Barre, who ruled Somalia in 1969-91 after a military coup. Further, Bliznyuk told the newspaper: “The USSR taught not only Somali natives but also those of Yemen, Ethiopia and others. Who would have assumed then that they would turn against us?”

Seems the pirates are doing what the Red Navy in all its might could not do, humble the mighty navies of the West!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    July 2, 2009 4:35 pm

    And yet Wislon gets the movie about him! Ironic.

  2. July 2, 2009 10:30 am

    Here is an interesting fact that not many people know about:

    Michael Pillsbury participated in President Reagan’s decision in 1986 to order the CIA to arm the Afghan resistance with Stinger missiles. According to the UN Undersecretary General who negotiated the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, “Initially, the Stinger campaign was spearheaded by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Fred Ikle and his aggressive Coordinator for Afghan Affairs, Michael Pillsbury… The Stinger proponents won their victory in the face of overwhelming bureaucratic resistance that persisted until the very end of the struggle.” Mann wrote, “For Michael Pillsbury, the covert operations in Afghanistan represented the fulfillment of the decade-old dream of American military cooperation with China… To help him win the argument, Pillsbury made use of his China connections.” George Crile stated in Charlie Wilson’s War that, “Ironically, neither [Gust] Avrakotos nor [Charlie] Wilson was directly involved in the decision and claims any credit.”

  3. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 21, 2009 9:55 pm

    I wouldn’t say they lie Sven so much as go with worse case scenarios. And we won the Cold War owing alot to these services who put themslves on the line with little thanks to this day.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 21, 2009 9:52 pm

    Thanks Sven. Translation didn’t come in to well, but we got most of it.

  5. Distiller permalink
    May 21, 2009 3:02 pm

    Still undecided if Al Quaeda is a computer age Mahdi insurrection, or a facet of a new Migration Period like at the end of the West Roman Empire.

    In any case crying “Stinger” is like all the other cries about proliferation, that the wild tribes suddenly have gunpowder weapons, repeating rifles, automatic weapons, anti-tank weapons, &c. Adapt and live with it!

  6. May 21, 2009 2:46 pm

    AQ did not get Stingers in Afghanistan; other Mujaheddin groups got them afaik.
    The 80’s Stingers are long since known to be useless because they’re way beyond shelf life and cannot function any more – replacement of the parts in question in technically difficult.
    They wrote “presumed”, which means no evidence whatsoever.
    A lot of people presume a lot of nonsense, and some happen to be officials, at times with a nonsense agenda.

    And I believe “U.S. intelligence” nothing at all when it’s about AQ links to whatever.

    The U.S. tried to establish AQ-Somalia links for years and found only marginal bits, about 60 countries worldwide have as much AQ links. Florida has more AQ links.

    The AQ-pirates link is even more imaginary.

    By the way; why were no Stingers used in terror attacks if AQ has them? The ManPADS that were used were the Russian series ones from Third World militaries and the black market (not even the Chinese or Pakistan series afaik).

    Besides, ManPADS are no significant threat to navy helicopters for a simple reason: Pirates are humans with brains, not monkeys. They KNOW that they will die if they succeed to kill a helicopter – while pretty much nothing happens to them if they surrender. Even if they had enough weary of life idiots among them to pull it off – it would happen only once, as we’d begin to just kill them on sight afterwards.

    “I can’t understand why the West is so knee-jerk defensive when someones compares pirates to terrorism.”

    Because we’re tired of being lied at by U.S. administrations , U.S. military and U.S. intelligence services. It began in the Cold War with exaggerations and false accusations and never really stopped.
    They got to shut up and stick to what they can prove.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:25 am

    So NASA trained the pirates? Interesting theory, but David Axe seems to confirm the Soviet connection:

  8. May 21, 2009 9:23 am

    Hate to dissapoint you; but actually for the last 20 years of his reign Barre was closer to the US and Britian – hence NASA built an airstrip in somalia, so if they were trained by anyone, it was us!

    sorry mike

    yours sincerly


  9. Heretic permalink
    May 21, 2009 8:59 am

    “The USSR taught not only Somali natives but also those of Yemen, Ethiopia and others. Who would have assumed then that they would turn against us?”

    So the concept of blowback is foreign to both the US and the former USSR? Once your proxies are “bought” they will forever more remain “bought” and on your side? Literally? FOREVER?

  10. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 21, 2009 7:50 am

    Sven, did you not read the article posted that read “the memo said intelligence was collected that Somalia’s pirates were presumed to have obtained the shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile from al-Qaeda”? And which organization was born in Afghanistan that used the Stinger’s to such effect?

    I can’t understand why the West is so knee-jerk defensive when someones compares pirates to terrorism. Again the word denial comes to mind. Clearly this is all apart of the general unrest within Islam, with terrorism as the extreme outlet for this unrest. Whether they use the same tactics or not, they are all related.

  11. May 21, 2009 7:31 am

    “Can some one now say there is a link between terrorism and piracy…”

    There’s apparently none, and you didn’t bring up a single even tiny hint that there might be one.
    Except of course that both are mere criminals.

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