Wednesday, October 22, 2008

U.S. Navy Has No Rules Of Engagement With Somali Pirates

US warships play waiting game with surrounded Somali pirates

Navy Commander Admits: No Rules On Somalia Pirates -- Reuters

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The commander of a NATO task force on its way to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia has said he still does not know what the rules are for taking on the high-seas bandits.

U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald said while he was aware of where the pirates were operating, there was little he could do militarily to stop them and that guidelines on how to take them on -- including whether to shoot -- were still in the works.

"You know, I don't think we've gotten the rules of engagement yet from NATO," Fitzgerald told reporters on Monday during a briefing on U.S. naval operations in Europe and Africa.

"That's all still being debated in the North Atlantic Council. All we've been told is to prepare a plan to go down there. So (the rules) are going to have to be debated."

Six NATO members have contributed ships, including destroyers and frigates, to a special anti-piracy task force following a request from the United Nations.

The NATO group passed through the Suez Canal last week on its way to the Horn of Africa, where piracy has surged this year, with more than 30 ships seized and ransoms estimated at $18-$30 million have been paid to free hostages.

There are already naval assets from Britain, the United States and Russia in the region, but the area is so vast -- more than 2.5 million square miles -- that it is almost impossible for the pirates to be stopped unless they are caught red-handed.

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My Comment: The U.S. has a trillion dollar navy, and they are paralyzed when they meet a bunch of Somali pirates armed with AK-47s and a few RPGs. Something is wrong with this picture.

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