Sunday, April 26, 2009

April and the Return to Conflict.

Just to see if you're paying attention!

Piracy April 2009

April is the first full month of spring and just as life begins to bloom after a long winter of dormancy, the human pursuit of war stirs itself and becomes manifest amid to the pockets of disconnected societies. Piracy took center stage for a while this month as Americans celebrated the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, just before they were forced to return to navel gazing and to consider national self-flagellation as a way to make amends for decisions made by the previous administration over the use of waterboarding to extract information from terror suspects.

While all this is going on, piracy has been on the rise for the first three months of 2009, with April now standing at 44 seizures of ships by pirates around the world. Galrahn of Information Dissemination, has two posts among many that focus on this problem. The first recounts the record set this month for pirate attacks.

Galrahn's final comments set the tone to backtrack and read the whole post and examine the accompanying map that illustrates the growing menace of global piracy.

Given how the pirates have picked up on modern technology, they are probably watching the weather just like the experts. In the case of piracy in the Strait of Malacca earlier this decade, the massive south east Asian tsunami played a major role in curbing the activity. One thing to watch for is a tsunami that could potentially hit one of these pirate cities and wipe out the boats used for piracy. Weather is a significant factor one should always keep an eye on.

Read more:
April a Record Month for Modern Piracy

In this second post, Galrahn offers several options that have an historic ring that will leave an astute reader humming the Marines Hymn.

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea.....

This analysis assumes that if the policy regarding the use of military power stays at the current level, which is in essence ineffective despite current record levels of international naval assistance (which will dwindle in the weeks ahead), the problem will get worse as the weather improves over the next few months and the Obama administration will see its leadership credibility globally erode. This is a potentially debatable position, but history does not suggest ineffective action in the face of serious security problems that are only getting worse leads to good things.

This raises the question, if we know the diplomatic efforts are going to take a long time to develop, what tactical actions should the Obama administration approve for the military to buy time for the long term Somalia policy to form? This analysis looks at three possibilities: engage from the air, engage on land, and engage at sea.

Read the whole post to see what tactic Galrahn favors in this well thought out essay.
Tactical Options for Fighting Somali Pirates

As a nation we struggle to swat away at the bees that seem to sting us at will while our elected officials dither in a return to hyper-divided politics along two fault lines. Big war industrial vs the COIN advocates and ideologues who demand prosecution for past sins vs let's do anything short of pulling fingernails to protect the country. The idea of redirecting the country efforts will take a consensus of agreement like those worked out by such visionary leaders as Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and Eisenhower. Many had high hopes that President Obama would be in the mold of these past leaders whom brought the experience of consensus building to the office. The ball is in his court as to see if he is able to keep the ideologues of both sides from tearing the country to shreds under his watch.

Meanwhile around the world, several countries have begun to redirect the focus of their national defense posture to reflect the changes that they perceive in the future. The following links take a brief look as some of the alignments by two of our allies and a troubling development by the hermit kingdom.

Great Britain
This short article by Isabel Oakeshott and Michael Smith, The Times looks at Britain's plan to focus on the future by adjusting her forces to confront the kinds of wars she has fought the past half century.

BRITAIN’S special forces are to be dramatically increased under plans being drawn up by the government.

John Hutton, the defence secretary, will this week signal radical reform of the armed forces in response to “lessons learnt” from the war in Afghanistan, where specialised units are seen to be playing a vital role.

Read more: SAS to Expand in Army Shake-up

Is also planning for contingencies as they encounter a new pallet of defense issues as noted in this article by Patrick Walters in The Australian.

Kevin Rudd is set to announce Australia's biggest military build-up since World War II, led by a multi-billion-dollar investment in maritime defence, including 100 new F-35 fighters, a doubling of the submarine fleet, and powerful new surface warships.

Read more:White Paper Orders Huge Military Build-up

In a companion piece, Patrick Walters takes a closer look at the proposed increase in Australian Naval power.

The naval and air power build-up is the key component in a more powerful defence force that the Prime Minister sees as essential to preserving Australia's security in a more turbulent world.
The white paper is the latest manifestation of Rudd's ambition for Australia to be able to act as a significant middle power in the Asia-Pacific region.

It is also a recognition that the power balances in our region are undergoing a historic shift with the rise of China and India.
Rudd understands that in a generation's time Beijing's formidably expanding military power could challenge the long-held military dominance of the US in east Asia with destabilising consequences for regional security.

And finally, the hermit kingdom is again acting like a sociopathic step-child, who finds that when the focus seems to stray from providing them handouts, that banging nuclear fuel rods together brings the great powers running with armloads of goodies to sustain them until the warehouses are empty.

North Korea
This in from an article in the New York Times by CHOE SANG-HUN.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea announced Saturday that it had begun reprocessing thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods, adding that it would use plutonium extracted from the rods to make nuclear weapons.
The announcement came hours after the United Nations Security Council placed three North Korean companies on a United Nations blacklist for aiding North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

Reading about them has become tedious, as they stick their proverbial thumb in the eye of the six powers and the UN.

Well, that should give any reader enough to contemplate and for most, drive them to flee to their favorite spring resting place to in bide in an adult beverage. Let us hope that We as a nation keep our eye on the ball and the future. It is not the wall we must worry about running into, it is the small things we can trip over. Looking back with a vengeful eye will cause us to trip and fall and break our neck over one of those small things in our path.

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