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?