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February 9, 2010

New Wars constantly warns of the need to defeat piracy before it morphs into something far worse, as any threat against the Freedom of the Seas, however minor, should be a concern to friendly sea going nations. It does appear that threat has just gotten worse, after some Al Qaeda communiques to Somalia were intercepted. Report is from Reuters and the Straits Times:

THE Yemen-based wing of Al-Qaeda, in a recording posted on the Internet on Monday, called on Somali insurgents to help gain control over a narrow strait at the mouth of the Red Sea to block US shipments to Israel.

The wing’s deputy leader, Saeed al-Shehri, urged Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist insurgents to help return the Bab al Mandab strait, which separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa, ‘to the lands of Islam’.

‘At such a time the Bab (al Mandab) will be closed and that will tighten the noose on the Jews (Israel), because through it America supports them by the Red Sea,’ Shehri said in the audio recording posted on a website often used by Islamist groups.

As we have been posting on this week, it is historical for traditional land powers to team up with successful maritime fleets in order to boost their own power. Other than the Persians mentioned, there are the Crusaders who took advantage of the fleets of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa to launch the Crusades. To defeat the Spain Armada, the English government leaned more than a little on privateers like Drake. Increasingly we even see modern Western fleets looking to so called Private Companies to bolster their own security at sea, since large power projecting battleships are incapable of keeping the vast sealanes secure, few as such expensive warships are.

A while back we posted on what would happen if The Terrorists Move to the Sea. This concerns the Mumbai attacks on India in 2008:

The Navy still considers anti-piracy operations as beneath their attention which is why we have a steadily shrinking fleet equipped with giant boondoggles ready to fight last century conflicts. Meanwhile, by using the loosely watched littoral seaways a small band of terrorists last week lay siege to one of the greatest of Asian superpowers, India…

As we saw dramatically on 9/11 ( a point in which I continually refer to admittedly, but our memory these days are so short lived) in which a handful of dedicated religious fanatics can turn our own airliners into weapons of mass destruction and hold the greatest military powers hostage, even the smallest of threats should be taken seriously.

Under its current shipbuilding budget, the USN can afford a “1000 Ship Navy” consisting of small warships like corvettes, patrol boats, FAC, and so on. These could be spread throughout the world as the  Victorian Era gunboats, backed up by motherships, interdicting the insurgents at sea before any major damage is done. It is incredulous that 8 years into the War on Terror, the Navy hasn’t learned this lesson but the Army has!

Nahhh..On second thought, maybe 10 new battleships which maybe will get us somewhere near a 300 ship navy in the next decade or two will do just fine. Worked so far, right? Right?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2010 6:43 pm

    The U.S. performance in the Indian Ocean is simply a disgrace. Blaming it on the idiotic behavior of our government in the first year of the Clinton administration ignores the reality that we do not have a strategic vision or even a handle on our own forces and have not since 1989. We have thrown away advantages large and small, squandered treasure and lives with relatively little return and have allowed small dangers to grow and continue to grow. This crew is still dumber than the last batch.

  2. west_rhino permalink
    February 10, 2010 10:49 am

    I’ll suppose Latin American narcoterrorist counter ops belong to the Justice Department, being beneath some services attentions as is piracy.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 9, 2010 8:30 pm

    “This isn’t about just about terrorists”

    Agreed. It is a rising Islamic Fundamentalism not unlike the rampant nationalism that led to the World Wars of the last century. Terrorists, rogue states, piracy, it is all tied together, rather loosely for now while the Western armies are reasonably powerful. They are better off staying low key.

    Plus it would be stupid for the pirates now to openly accept Al Qaeda help because this would be the stimulus for the USN especially to take them down. They are doing well enough on their own for now, as i said conducting low-key attacks. Stick their head out further it gets chopped, though this would be a good thing for the anti-pirate Coalition.

    “The Egyptians have previously facilitated the passage of at least one Dolphin-class sub.”

    Isn’t that interesting after what I just wrote? The Egyptians hate the Israeli’s, but fear the Iranian influence on its populace more. It would be good for Cairo if both their enemies would destroy one another, but at least for now the Jews are bearable. The Iranians want to overthrow traditional regimes, as in Jordan and the Saudis.

  4. CBD permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:45 pm

    This isn’t about just about terrorists, Iran is also using piracy and independent terrorism to cover for national interests and ensure national security through proxy non-state actors.

    This week, on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, there will be either a long range missile test or, possibly, a test of a nuclear device. Israel may try to strike to eliminate the benefits.

    Egypt, earlier this week, allowed 2 Israeli missile boats (likely Sa’ar V craft, also possibly also 1-2 (unseen) Dolphin-class subs) through the Suez with strict security measures in place. The Egyptians have previously facilitated the passage of at least one Dolphin-class sub. Iran can’t risk these assets getting out of the Red Sea because these craft would have the range to strike targets important to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the ability to facilitate air strikes by active electronic warfare.

    Their hope is to rile up their local allies (rebels in Yemen and armed forces in Eritrea) to make the passage out of the Red Sea dangerous for the Israeli Navy.

  5. Chuck Hill permalink
    February 9, 2010 3:15 pm

    We armed merchant ships in WWII, no good reason they could not be armed now–other than that it would make them an even better mother ship if they were captured.

    A couple of .50 cals would do wonders.


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