Another association expressing their displeasure with the whole piracy thing…  What strikes me here is the language being used by this group, and other similar shipping groups. Everyone is frustrated and angry, and they want action.

Worse yet, with certain threats to oil stability and the change of leadership in countries located near key waterways, I predict even more problems for shipping.  Imagine Libya or Yemen completely collapsing, and turning the Gulf of Aden and neighboring water ways a free for all for pirates based in those countries?  And with the price of oil increasing, along with the demand increasing, any shipping companies tasked with transporting that black gold will really want that stuff to be protected.

Now this brings me to a thought that has crossed my mind several times.  The scope and scale of piracy is too large for governments alone to handle.  To me, the only way to really scale up the war against this problem, is to bring in private industry and open the flood gates. To license private industry to do what they have to do to protect these vessels or to go after these thugs and join in the fight. That would require a loosening on the nation-state’s grasp on the monopoly of the use of force, a nullification of treaties and agreements that prohibit such things as the Letter of Marque–yet still allows for the regulation and licensing of effective practices, and the political will to deal with such problems from a pragmatic point of view.

This is also a stark reminder that netwar is a reality, and it is kicking the ass of the slow and inefficient governments. Both John Arquilla and General McChrystal talked about restructuring the military (or parts) to be more responsive to these networks. That in order to defeat a network, you need a network–and a whole bunch of them.  I don’t see it happening with today’s slow and inefficient government sponsored militaries and navies. To me, the one group that can match the ‘decentralized and flexible network structures’ of these actors (pirates, terrorists, cartels), is an industry that profits from the destruction of these folks.

It would also be a self destroying industry, because once there is no more enemy, the industry dries up, and the few folks that continue on to be pirates or criminals, could then be destroyed by all the governments and their might. Hell, governments would use that very industry to destroy itself.  That is how early privateering was dealt with when it had these rogue elements, and that is how it would work today. But of course you see this in any industry.  A computer specialist decides to be an illegal hacker and steal money is one example. A soldier in a war, decides to go home and apply his skills to armored car robberies. A politician goes corrupt in order to make financial gains. There will always be that one percent of one percent of any profession that uses it’s skills and experience for criminal ventures–and that will never change.

But back to the concept. If copying networks like Al Qaeda/Cartels/Piracy (mimicry strategy) is appropriate and works, then private industry will quickly adapt that structure to it’s business model and use it to gain market share.  They will use that, or whatever netwar structure to defeat the enemy, and profit from the venture. They will not only go after the enemy, but compete against other companies and individuals who are doing the same thing–and that competition is what will fuel innovation. It works like that in every industry out there, and it will work violently well in this endeavor. Or at least in my humble opinion.

The ‘profit’ will include the destruction of a reviled enemy, the collection of a bounty, the seizure of an asset, or the collection of money for services rendered.  The more profit motive there is, the better, and it is a system that works. All government needs to do is maintain the machine through regulation and licensing. It worked with our usage of licensed privateers against the British during the Revolutionary War, it is working for the current Somali pirates who are raping the world with their piracy/business model, it worked for Claire Chennault and his Flying Tigers (who collected bounties for every enemy plane shot down), and the Cartel drug war business model works so well that it is defeating both the US and Mexican governments and making war against one another at the same time! Something to think about…. Or we can get continue to think that only governments can win wars and solve problems? -Matt

ASF airs outrage at rising attacks on ships
April 5, 2011
The Safe Navigation and Environment Committee (SNEC) of the Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) has expressed outrage at the increasing number of attacks on their ships and the brutality shown by Somali pirates.
“The current situation, where a handful of pirates can hold the world’s economy hostage, is completely unacceptable as responsible owners and managers, we must take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our seafarers,” said Mr. S. S. Teo, SNEC Chairman in a recent meeting of the Asian shipowners’ associations held in Singapore.
“Not only are seafarers being tortured and murdered civilians and children are being targeted as well. The situation is increasingly untenable.”
It was noted that pirates had attacked 445 ships, hijacked 53 of them and taken 1,181 seafarers hostage worldwide in 2010. Today, about 700 seafarers remain hostages in deplorable conditions off Somalia.
The committee expressed serious concern at the threat posed by pirates to international shipping, particularly in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and in the waters off Somalia.
The committee demands that all governments must act decisively and expeditiously to eradicate piracy and attacks on ships.
While appreciating the assistance and protection provided by the naval forces stationed in the Gulf of Aden presently, the committee does not consider it sustainable in the longer term.
The committee is of the unanimous view that the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) must exercise strong political will to bring the situation under control.
The meeting strongly supports the call by international shipping organizations worldwide to neutralize the threat of the captured, hostage-crewed mother ships that are allowing pirates to roam the Indian Ocean unimpeded.
The committee acknowledges that in addition to complying fully with all the measures put forward in the latest version of Best Management Practices to deter piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Coast of Somalia, which has been developed by the industry, the committee notes and appreciates that individual ASF members may adopt additional safety measures such as the use of armed guards to protect the lives and well being of their seafarers.
Story here.

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Time to raise the ante against piracy
April 1, 2011
THE phenomenon of Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden was the unexpected focus of attention in Singapore last week when two of Asia’s most powerful shipping and freight groups held their meetings here. They each separately released hard-hitting statements decrying the escalating piracy problem and stressing the need for governments to be more committed in tackling this menace to commercial shipping. The threat to the lives of seafarers, the cost to shippers of held-up cargo and to shipowners in getting their hijacked vessels released must undoubtedly be uppermost in their minds, and rightly so. They do have a compelling, and somewhat chilling, story to tell.
Last year alone, Somali pirates attacked 445 ships, hijacked 53 of them and took 1,181 seafarers hostage worldwide. Today, about 700 seafarers remain hostage in deplorable conditions off Somalia.
Since 2008, the incidence of piracy has been rising. The ransom demands faced by shipowners to secure the release of their vessels, crew and cargo have also shot up. The going rate is said to be anywhere between US$2 million and $10 million, air-dropped by private planes onto hijacked ships while units of the most powerful navies of the world look on.
The reason for such impotence is simple: The pirates have raised the stakes by increasing violence against hostages. They are simply saying, even to the mighty US Navy: Stay away and let the owners pay up, or we will mutilate and kill. They did just that last month to four American sailors in a private yacht when US warships closed in to rescue them.
Pirate operations have also grown in sophistication. What started as local piracy by Somali fishermen has now been taken over by international organised-crime syndicates cashing in on a lucrative operation.
That may explain the Asian Shippers’ Council’s (ASC) call for what they think is the ultimate response to the piracy scourge: Get into the Somali port towns where the gangs are based and take out the enemy. They are demanding that known leaders of the pirates be targeted, just like terrorist masterminds. In feedback to the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, the ASC, while agreeing that the long-term solution to Somalia’s problem lies in having a fully functioning government, said more immediate measures are needed to tilt the risk-reward ratio, making piracy a more risky than rewarding proposition for young Somalis.
For its part, the Asian Shipowners’ Forum argues for armed guards on board vessels, a measure which most agree will be better suited to foil pirates who slip on board targeted vessels under cover of darkness or while naval patrols are nowhere to be seen.
So there are options to act. What is needed now is for concerned governments to press the United Nations for a stronger, workable and committed response. The present state of affairs where a handful of pirates in open skiffs can hold hostage a slice of global trade is unacceptable.
Story here.