Archive for category Italy

Maritime Security: Piracy Plunges As More Ships Start Carrying Armed Guards

“In 2011, the numbers of private armed security teams went up significantly and that has been a big game-changer as well, though not the only factor,” Olive said. “If that pressure is taken off it can all start to be unpicked relatively rapidly,” he added, referring to industry and military measures to combat piracy.

It’s nice to see some recognition going towards the efforts of armed security out there. They have been a ‘big game-changer’ and the statistics speak for themselves.

Although one looming iceberg that can really mangle the record of private armed guards are shootings that result in innocent people being killed. I have to imagine that we will see private maritime security industry involved in such a thing, and an example of how that might turn out can be seen with the shooting accident that happened last February between some Italian Marine vessel protection guards and an Indian fishing vessel.

In that accident, one innocent person was killed, and it is the type of deal that has been all over the news in both India and Italy. This kind of international incident would literally destroy a security company and absolutely embarrass the client. But it would also be the kind of incident that would put some extreme negative attention on the maritime security industry as a whole. The question is how do you prevent something like that from happening, and can you?

Logically speaking, it is bound to happen. So the prudent thing for companies is to actually prepare your legal strategic defense for such an event. To study how this specific event between the Italians and Indians, and learn from it to get a good game plan together. Of course you always want to refine your rules of engagement and enforce it with training and good management/leadership, but in the realm of combat, unfortunate things happen and companies must be prepared.

One final point is the use of the Letter of Marque (LoM) or a similar licensing system. This could be used as a form of protection for those armed guards on the high seas. If the ship’s captain carries a LoM for that vessel, issued by the same state the vessel is flagged under, then in that case the state can identify through that license what they are legally willing to support when it comes to the defense of that vessel. Under the terms of the LoM, you can list all sorts of requirements of the vessel’s protection team, and you can write up legal protections for that team and vessel.

The main point of this type of LoM is to get the state back into the game of regulating armed force on these vessels and provide some kind of legal protections and accountability. If states are willing to put their flag on a vessel, then why not go the whole way and allow them to issue a LoM or similar license for this kind of ‘warfare on the high seas’? –Matt


Piracy plunges as more ships start carrying armed guards
November 30, 2012
By Michelle Wiese Bockmann
Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean fell 81 per cent this year as the use of armed security guards on ships acted as a “game-changer,” according to the European Union’s naval force.
There were 34 attacks by Somali pirates, with five vessels hijacked so far in 2012, compared to a record 176 assaults in the whole of last year that resulted in 25 ships seized for ransom, according to Peter Olive, the EU Naval Force’s chief of staff.
Ransom payments to Somali pirates totaled $36 million so far this year, compared with $147 million last year, he said Thursday at a briefing at the EU’s naval force headquarters at Northwood, England. As well as more aggressive military operations, the increasing deployment of private guards over the last 18 months on vessels transiting high-risk areas contributed to the declines, Olive said.
“In 2011, the numbers of private armed security teams went up significantly and that has been a big game-changer as well, though not the only factor,” Olive said. “If that pressure is taken off it can all start to be unpicked relatively rapidly,” he added, referring to industry and military measures to combat piracy.

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Maritime Security: Italy To Use Military To Guard Merchant Ships Against Pirates

Interesting news, and this is coming right after a report of another Italian vessel being taken. The reason why it was taken is because their guard force on the boat was not armed. Funny how some folks still think that a less than lethal, unarmed guard force is still a good idea?  On the bright side, it sounds like the MV Montecristo was retaken by British and US commandos and all of the hostages have been released.

As far as using military assets on merchant vessels, I guess that will work. Although I certainly hope that these shipping companies are paying the bill for such a thing, because that is a pretty sweet deal to get a military protection force on their boats for free.  Maybe Italian banks or jewelry stores should write their lawmakers and ask if they will provide military details to protect their businesses?

The Italian navy will have to re-adjust as well to service all of these private vessels. And what is interesting with that is aren’t these vessels losing their merchant status by posting military folks on them?  Aren’t they now technically military vessels?  For example, if these vessels were attacked by an enemy of Italy, that the vessel would be considered a military target and not a civilian target. And who would be in charge on these vessels, the ship’s captain or the military force? I don’t know, and these are some interesting legal questions that I do not have an answer for. –Matt


Italy to use military to guard merchant ships against pirates
October 11, 2011
By Barry Moody
Italy is to station military forces on its merchant vessels to guard against attacks by Somali pirates, shipping sources said on Tuesday, the day after another of its ships was attacked off the anarchic east African country.
Many ships already carry private security contractors to try to prevent hijacks, but deployment of military forces on merchant vessels would mark a clear escalation in measures to combat piracy, which costs the world economy billions of dollars each year.
The sources said Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa would sign an agreement later on Tuesday with the confederation of Italian ship owners to put military guards on board vessels in the huge area of the Indian Ocean at risk from Somali pirates, who have hijacked several Italian ships.
The Montecristo, an Italian cargo ship, was attacked by five men in a small boat off the coast of Somalia on Monday, its owner the D’Alesio Group said. A pirate told Reuters by phone that it was under their control. The ship had 23 crew from Italy, India and Ukraine.

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Books: Castles, Battles, And Bombs–How Economics Explains Military History, By Jurgen Brauer And Hubert Van Tuyll

This is a great little book and I highly recommend it just for the chapter 3, ‘The Renaissance, 1300-1600–The Case of the Condottieri and the Military Labor Market’. What makes this book so cool is that it describes the history of the Condottieri from the point of view of economics. Stuff like principal agent problem and asymmetric information are the areas that this book goes into, and I found it to be fascinating.

The book also talked about today’s PMCs and how they are being used, or misused. The authors even gave some kudos to Executive Outcomes for being an effective PMC versus the UN during the Sierra Leone war.

But back to the Condottieri or Italian contractors/mercenaries. (Condottieri were the mercenary captains and also contractors in general) This is very interesting material, because the authors discussed the incentives of these mercenaries back then that helped to alleviate the principal agent problem. They used things like bonuses, or the individuals were allowed to ransom and loot as part of the contract. (back then, this was a standard feature of warfare of all armies)

Probably the one thing that piqued my interest the most is the use of bonding agreements within the contracts. I have talked about bonds in the past or how these could be effective tools for getting companies to do what you need them to do, and this book talked a little bit about how bonds were used in the past.

Specifically, the authors mentioned a lecturer named Daniel Waley whom examined twenty Italian mercenary contracts that had been preserved from the late 13th century. There were 11 contracts from Bologna, 5 from Siena, 1 from Florence, 2 from Piedmont, and one from the March of Ancona. All of them were issued between 1253 and 1301, with fifteen of them after 1290.

All of the contracts had these elements in common:

1. Number of men to be hired.
2. Type of force. (cavalry, infantry, etc.)
3. Number of horses to be supplied.
4. Values of the horses. (minimum and maximum)
5. The mendum or compensation for horses injured or killed.
6. Provisions for arms and equipment.
7. Length of contract. (usually 3 or 6 months)
8. Contract renewal option.
9. Payment for travel to place of engagement.
10. The rate of pay and pay period. (usually once every two months)
11. The pay differentials among various grades of hired men. (commanders, cavalry, infantry, crossbowmen)
12. The division of prisoners, ransom, and booty.
13. The secure release if the hired men were themselves taken prisoner.
14. Bonus pay. (retention of booty, double pay for battle days)
15. Jurisdiction, default and penalty clauses.
16. Dispute Resolution within the hired band.
17. Loyalty clause.
18. A performance bond. (6 of the 11 Bolognese contracts had bonds guaranteeing good behavior)

As you can see, the contracts were pretty involved back then. The book mentioned that contracts used to run about 4,000 words, but later contracts shortened up a bit and ran about 1,000 to 3,000 words. The authors pointed out that the hiring states began to develop regulations that helped to make contracts more formulaic, and thus easier to write. It is easier to point to laws and regulations of that state, as opposed to make provisions that cover ‘everything’ within in a contract.

What is interesting is that this is exactly what has happened with today’s companies. There were really not enough regulations on the use of companies in the beginning days of Iraq or Afghanistan, and so contracts really had not control features.(we also had problems because of this) Now, the contracts are a lot better, just because of the amount of scrutiny that has been applied to the companies and the government. I have seen a dramatic increase in regulations, and we will probably continue to see this evolution take place.

The performance bond is interesting to me. I mentioned this in my post about Reflex Responses that they had a performance bond in their contract with the UAE, and that is smart. Early American privateers had to be bonded in order to receive a Letter of Marque as well. Of course the bond survives in other industries, and it is just one tool of many to provide incentive in the principal agent problem–or to get folks to do what you want them to do.

The other thing that this book talked about is modum stipendii and modum societatis. Or basically contracting with an individual versus contracting with the leaders of mercenary companies. Contracting with individuals was problematic, because each had their own set of intentions. But hiring a group with a leader that motivates them and keeps them together, is far more dependable and easier to manage.

Of course with today’s companies, this is how it works. The US government rarely contracts with individuals, and it is far more easier and efficient to contract with DynCorp and have them provide the bodies. But this also got me thinking about how companies recruit.

I have thought about this concept in the past, as far as hiring groups of individuals for companies. If a company could hire a squad or platoon of contractors, where all of them fought together in their old unit or company, and they had a leader for bargaining purposes, then a company could gain advantage of having a team that has unit experience, integrity and cohesion. This is an issue that I have seen out there, and it would be interesting to see companies try this out. Because to me, a unit with experience, integrity and cohesion is extremely valuable to a company for the offense and defense.

The book also defined a time period where Italian cities switched from hiring individuals to hiring units. They started using the term Lance or lancea in contracts which was a unit of 3 men. Perhaps this might be a feature of modern contracts? It would be far easier to find Lances who all knew each other and fought together in let’s say the Marines. The survival of such teams would be higher, and their effectiveness on the battlefield would be better because that unit experience/cohesion/integrity element was already there. (that’s if you have a good leader leading these lances)

The other deal that was interesting to me is the pay for the common mercenary back then. They did not make a lot of money, and it was the mercenary captains that became wealthy. These grunts would make the same amount as day-laborers for stuff like construction. The book said they averaged 9 florins a day, from between 1321 and 1368. It sounds like rates continued to fall as time passed, and the basic grunt definitely took it in the shorts. They also had tons of pay issues, like late pay, not getting paid or receiving forged money! lol And we talk about pay problems these days?

But like with any military or PMC, past or present, if you screw with the soldier’s pay, they tend to get pissed off. Or they just leave. Countries like Iraq or Somalia have experienced what happens when you don’t pay soldiers or police, and security is highly dependent upon making sure guys are getting paid on time and the amount that was agreed upon.

These old mercenaries also sold their equipment to make enough money to get by between contracts, and life for a soldier was tough back then. As a result of this low salary, contractors tended to gravitate to contracts with the most stability and longevity. If you have a family to feed and bills to pay, then this becomes understandable in today’s realm. (I have seen contractors leave contracting to be soldiers again, and I have seen soldiers leave the military to be contractors. Which might indicate equilibrium of a sorts?)

The other thing I wanted to touch on about the book is they do go into offense industry a little bit. Contractors were paid bonuses for all sorts of things, like for storming a castle, acts of bravery, or for bounties. Anything to give an incentive. They also offered pensions to contractors that were loyal, something Sir John Hawkwood depended on greatly towards the end of his career. (the lesson here is save your pennies!)

Well, that is all I will get into with the book. Check it out in the Jundi Gear Store, and I have provided some links below for your convenience. –Matt

The third chapter of the book on Google Books here.

Book Description
Publication Date: May 1, 2008

Castles, Battles, and Bombs reconsiders key episodes of military history from the point of view of economics—with dramatically insightful results. For example, when looked at as a question of sheer cost, the building of castles in the High Middle Ages seems almost inevitable: though stunningly expensive, a strong castle was far cheaper to maintain than a standing army. The authors also reexamine the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II and provide new insights into France’s decision to develop nuclear weapons. Drawing on these examples and more, Brauer and Van Tuyll suggest lessons for today’s military, from counterterrorist strategy and military manpower planning to the use of private military companies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“In bringing economics into assessments of military history, [the authors] also bring illumination. . . . [The authors] turn their interdisciplinary lens on the mercenary arrangements of Renaissance Italy; the wars of Marlborough, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon; Grant’s campaigns in the Civil War; and the strategic bombings of World War II.

“This study is serious, creative, important. As an economist I am happy to see economics so professionally applied to illuminate major decisions in the history of warfare.”—Thomas C. Schelling, Winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics

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Legal News: Italy And Norway Produce National Regulations On The Use Of Armed Guards For Maritime Security

Right on, and this is great news that countries are now starting to wake up about this stuff. I also think that this move to put armed guards on boats and backing that up with legal authority to do so, is actually helping to fuel the opinio juris of the world body that armed security is a good idea on these boats. If Italy or Norway thinks it’s a good idea, then other countries might be more inclined to do the same thing. I have also seen this change in attitude with places like the UN, Germany and the UK.

Now will armed guards on boats, eventually lead to states granting Letters of Marque? Who knows, but as armed guards on boats present certain unavoidable situations (like taking prisoners after sinking a pirate boat, killing pirates, killing innocents, clashes with other navies or armed guards, etc.) then further legislation might lead countries to just go back to the tried and true license called the LoM. In other words, if the sum of all of the laws created over time add up to being just a basic LoM, then why not just implement the LoM?

The Declaration of Paris (DoP) is old and outdated, and as we put more private armed guards on boats and states continue to pass laws allowing for such things, then why hold to the DoP? Especially as pirates continue to flourish, and navies continue to fail at stopping this virus. Stuff to think about, and bravo to Italy and Norway for doing the right thing. –Matt

National regulations on the use of armed guards
July 22, 2011

The Italian Decree no. 107, dated 12 July 2011, (Italian only) states the general principles of the deployment of military forces or private security guards onboard Italian Ships.

On 29 June 2011, the Norwegian Government announced a new framework on the use of armed guards by amendments to Regulation 972/2004 on ship security and amendments to Regulation 904/2009 relative to arms. The changes came into force on 1 July 2011.
The new framework follows the IMO guidelines, and allows Norwegian owners to have armed guards onboard in a certain geographical area within the legal limits laid down. An owner wanting to place armed guards onboard must apply for authorization with Norwegian Police Authorities and provide necessary documentation to the Norwegian Maritime Directory. However, the owner is required to conduct an independent risk evaluation to prove the need for armed guards. In addition the owner must be able to show the Security Company’s documentation on procedures for training, qualification and storage and use of weapon.
The simultaneously issued Provisional Guidelines the use of armed guards  offer practical guidance on the interpretation of the new framework.
The minister of Trade and Industry states in a press release (Norwegian only) that the amendments do not imply an encouragement to have armed guards onboard Norwegians ships. The purpose is to control the selection and use of security companies to ensure the safety of Norwegian ships and their crew. He emphasizes that all other efforts to protect the ship and its crew must first be fulfilled before armed guards are used.
Link to post here.

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