Thursday, November 20, 2008

To the Shores of Somalia

The Russians (!) want a land operation in Somalia to clear out the pirate bases:

On Wednesday, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, called on the international community to launch a joint amphibious operation against pirate strongholds in Somalia.

However, any such operation would likely require the approval of the U.N. Security Council, whose resolutions on anti-piracy operations are vague, Choong said.

On Thursday, representatives of six Arab countries met in an attempt to forge a strategy against the hijackings. Representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan and Somalia met in Cairo.

Egyptian diplomat Wafaa Bassem, who was chairing the meeting, said options include setting up a piracy monitoring center, joint maneuvers by Arab navies and a warning systems for ships navigating the Red Sea.

India's recent naval action is great, but ultimately just a defensive success.

Calls for a land operation are being heard here, too:

History teaches that the only way to destroy pirates is from the land, not the sea - by wiping out their bases.

... [We need] a Marine Expeditionary Brigade that can wipe out the pirate bases once and for all.

I've written for several years that I'd like to see a big effort, perhaps a multi-brigade operation in Somalia to strangle the growing jihadi presence there.

The Ethiopian foray that we supported two years ago is still clamping down in the Mogadishu area, but vast expanses of territory outside of effective control provide space for al Qaeda and their friends to regroup and plan. The impact of that intervention (backed by our special forces) is starting to wear off.

So why not get the Arab grouping to sign off on an Egyptian contingent of a marine or paratrooper brigade to go in with an American Marine brigade and an American paratrooper brigade, perhaps augmented by one or two EU infantry battalions, as the conventional hammer of an intervention force? Aircraft, ships, and special operations forces as needed would be part of this as well.

The idea wouldn't be for this force to be a permanent force but one that disperses and kills the pirates and jihadis who can--if they don't already--latch on to the piracy effort. Our going in with ground forces would be contingent on the African Union and UN scraping up a force that could then be brought in to crucial port areas to keep the weakened piracy and jihadi elements from coming back in once we leave after several months of operations.

This would be both a valuable contribution to winning the Long War and a blow against piracy.