Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 29, 2009

A Carrier Group To Attack Somalia

The U.S. supported Ethiopian army has finally retreated from Somalia and the Al-Shabab group has taken the city of Baidoa, the seat of the U.S. installed provisional war-lord government.

Meanwhile a lot of military ships are cruising the Somali coast to prevent the Somali coast guard/pirates from taking cargo ships for ransom. Even the Japanese are joining the party.

Economically this does not make any sense. With more of 20,000 ships passing the Gulf of Aden each year, a few captured ships will slightly increase the insurance premium for passing the area. But that hardly justifies to have over 20 expensive navy ships with thousands of sailors protecting it. There were 293 acts of piracy worldwide last year. Only 111 of them took place at the Somali coast. Yes, the area is important for world trade, but others with even more pirate action are too without getting this much attention.

Is this just a show of force by everyone to impress competing nations? Maybe.

The U.S. has so far not taken any real action in the area. But that may well change. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on its way to the area and it carries a very unusual number of helicopters.

The new wing configuration has two full squadrons for a total of about 19 aircraft, with their leadership aboard, all under the carrier air wing and strike group commander. These helicopters are heavily armed and will take over missions such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and supporting SEALs or other special operations troops.

I doubt that a carrier with so many helicopters is the best platform to fight piracy. A few smaller ships with one or two helos each could cover a much bigger area. But a carrier strike group may well be an asset for land attacks on targets in Somalia.

Steve Clemons muses about such an endeavor:

In the period between President Obama's November 2008 victory at the polls and his taking office on January 20, 2009, members of Obama's transition team began talking to military planners about various options that might be available for dealing with Somali pirates.
But the source recounted to me that those asking for the development of these option plans seemed more focused on whether a low-cost, low loss-of-American lives action could be quickly taken in a strike against pirates because of the need to demonstrate that Americans could still strike hard and achieve their military and political objectives.

The source worried that in my source's opinion, there was perhaps not enough consideration of what it might be like to potentially open yet a third active military front in that region.

military front."Kill some people to show the world Obama has balls? Sure, but patrolling against pirates is not an "active military front." Special operations on ground targets would constitute one.

So I expect the fighting piracy theme will now be used as a fig leaf to justify attacks on Al-Shabab and other groups that might take power in Somalia against the wishes of Washington DC.

For lack of intelligence such attacks by the U.S. will fail to hit these groups but kill a lot of innocent people. Nothing new here. Just another "crappy little country" again throw against the wall.

Posted by b on January 29, 2009 at 7:10 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

this is what passes for unclassified intel & assessment, huh?

from the DIA's annual threat assessment presented to the committee on armed services on tuesday

Recent propaganda from both al-Qaida and the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab highlighting their shared ideology suggests a formal merger announcement is forthcoming. Al-Shabaab has conducted near-daily attacks against regional government and security forces in Somalia, including suicide VBIED attacks in Puntland and Somaliland. Cooperation among al-Qaida inspired extremists throughout the region strengthens al-Qaida’s foothold in Africa.


In Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government will likely continue to weaken, resulting in a further erosion of order. Largely ineffective, the Somali government is incapable of addressing the social and economic causes contributing to the ongoing piracy threat off the Somali coast. Unaddressed, piracy threatens to disrupt the flow of humanitarian supplies as well as commercial traffic transiting off the Somali coast. Warships from over a dozen nations currently conduct anti-pirate patrols in regional waters and have apprehended over 40 suspected pirates this year; most have since been transferred to Somali and Yemeni authorities for prosecution. Despite this, attacks continue, but at rates lower than the peak of pirate activity in late 2008.

i suggest this weak assessment is designed for ulterior purposes, or shall we say propaganda aimed at those sharing a particular ideology that highlights paranoia & always the resort to violence

Posted by: b real | Mar 10 2009 19:50 utc | 101

Thanks for all the interesting post b real! fascinating reading.

Posted by: David | Mar 10 2009 20:06 utc | 102

Please continue comments here.

Posted by: b | Mar 10 2009 20:40 utc | 103

just to note on #99 - the AFP article (deliberately?) misquotes and misrepresents inhofe in that direct quote attributed to him

perhaps they lazily copied it from an erroneous transcript, but then why focus only on the threat from china when it was only inhofe himself that brought it up in the Q&A? it certainly wasn't a focus of blair's assessments.

what inhofe says is "... i know china has not been our friend in somali and it has not been our ... or ... uh ... in sudan, and some of the others and i just hope..."

being the confused politician that he is, especially when it comes to africa, he stumbled on the names but then corrected himself

it's 101:40 into the webcast

actually, the entire first round of inhofe's questioning is rather hilarious stuff. it begins around 90 minutes into the video.

first he whines because AFRICOM hasn't set up its HQ on the african continent, claiming that african president's agree but face a hostile populace still hung up on colonialism

then he asks a question of blair re zimbabwe, prefacing it w/ the stmt "my feeling is that ... zim ... is a magnet for terrorist activity". blair, entirely uncomfortable w/ the entire charade, hesitates while he recovers from this bit of nonsense, and then says that actually the terrorist threats come from somalia & the maghreb, to which inhofe follows w/ "i'm thinking about in the future"

next, inhofe starts pressing for blair to say something about the attacks on ethiopian dictator meles elsewhere in congress, 'social issues' or something', after ethiopia 'went down and joined with us' to help us in somalia...

blair countered w/ a somewhat realistic assessment of the situation, though framing it as ethiopia's intervention

it'd be funny stuff if so many people weren't suffering & paying the ultimate price b/c of it

Posted by: b real | Mar 10 2009 22:15 utc | 104

« previous page

The comments to this entry are closed.