26 May 2009

Analysis: Anit-pirate forces meet in Bahrain

The Combined Maritime Forces staff, which oversees Combined Task Force 151, has organized a meeting in Bahrain to "deconflict" the various flotillas operating against Somali pirates:
Representatives from nations including Australia, Bahrain, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, UK, U.S., Yemen, the European Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and NATO took part in today’s SHADE [SHared Awareness and DEconfliction] meeting. Following the establishment of CTF 151, the CMF staff determined that it would be helpful to implement working-level meetings ashore to discuss counter-piracy coordination and deconfliction. Today’s conference marked the fourth time CMF facilitated the meetings.
The CMF claimed success for coordination:
"These efforts streamline and maximize the effectiveness of naval forces to conduct counter-piracy operations in the region," said Commodore Tim Lowe, Deputy Commander, CMF. “By synchronizing and deconflicting our efforts, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, EU, NATO and other international forces are making a difference.”
(CMF Press Release #087-09, 05/26/09)

In a spirit of optimism and good will that goes far beyond "making a difference," Capt. Richard Brown, commanding the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg assigned to CTF 151, announced that "What Gettysburg, the U.S. and our Coalition partners have been able to achieve in the Gulf of Aden is to keep the sea lines of communication free and clear." Turkish Rear Adm. Caner Bener, commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, complemented international naval forces not assigned to his command: "Without the assistance of our international partners in the area, our fight against piracy wouldn’t be as successful as it has been." (CMF Press Release 086-09, 05/26/09)

The military view could not be clearer: The sea lanes have been cleared of pirates (Brown) and the fight against pirates has been successful (Bener). Let's see what pirates and commerce have to say about this.