Mullen Promises Broad Review of Anti-piracy Operations
By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service
The U.S. military has initiated a review to look broadly and widely and deeply " at the overall strategy on piracy off the coast of Somalia, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, speaking on ABC`s Good Morning America, complimented those who carried out the mission that freed Merchant Marine Capt. Richard Phillips. Somali pirates had held Phillips hostage since his ship, the Maersk-Alabama, was attacked April 8.
The Maersk-Alabama`s crew managed to regain control of the cargo vessel, but pirates took Phillips hostage and sought shelter in an 18-foot lifeboat. Navy SEAL snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge killed three of the pirates aboard the lifeboat when it appeared that Phillips` life was in imminent danger.
Piracy has been a problem for America since the founding of the republic, Mullen said. We`ve actually been focused on this issue for some period of time, and set up a task force out in that part of the world last fall, he said. We`ve had a focus on it.
Some 16 nations have warships in the region, which covers 1.1 million square miles, a vast area that is difficult to cover; in fact, pirates captured the Greek merchant vessel Irene overnight. It`s a going business for the pirates, Mullen said.
Part of the problem with piracy off Somalia " a failed state " is what to do with pirates who are captured. Mullen said the United States and Kenya have a bilateral agreement for the African nation to prosecute any pirates captured on the high seas in the region. There`s a lot of work to do. It`s a big challenge, but there are many, many people working on it right now, Mullen said.
Pirates have vowed reprisals on the United States for the successful operation to free Phillips.
I certainly take their comments afterwards seriously, Mullen said. That said, we are very well prepared to deal with anything like that. And that will be part of our military review.