In a decision that underlines the value of shared responsibilities, values, and costs in terms of global security issues, a new international force consisting of more than 20 nations and headed by the U.S. Navy and Rear Admiral Terence McKnight (pictured) has been set up to ward off ocean piracy and is expected to begin operations as early as next week. Navy Times reports that Rear Adm. Terry McKnight would head Combined Task Force 151, which is expected to be “fully operational” in days.
“… pirate attacks have grown in the past months despite broader United Nations authorization to pursue suspected hijackers at sea and ashore … “Some navies in our coalition did not have the authority to conduct counterpiracy missions,” Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in the announcement. “The establishment of CTF-151 will allow those nations to operate under the auspices of CTF-150, while allowing other nations to join CTF-151 to support our goal of deterring, disrupting and eventually bringing to justice the maritime criminals involved in piracy events.”According to the BBC more than a dozen ships with around 200 crewmembers remain in the hands of pirates, among the most valuable being a Saudi supertanker, loaded with $100 million of crude oil and an Ukrainian vessel with Russian-made tanks and other heavy weapons on board.
“The most effective measures we’ve seen to defeat piracy are non-kinetic and defensive in nature,” Gortney said in the Jan. 8 statement. “But the problem of piracy is and continues to be a problem that begins ashore and is an international problem that requires an international solution. We believe the establishment of CTF-151 is a significant step in the right direction.”
A surface warfare officer and a native of Norfolk, McKnight had recently been the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, since Sept. 2007. The new task force will operate in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.”
The threat of piracy is a shared concern; hence, it is pleasing to witness the formation of this International Anti-Pirate Armada, one that hopefully will not only counter the efforts of pirates but more importantly, serve as a foundation for shared duty in a world where common threats to global interests, are typically left for the U.S. to confront alone.
Image: AP Photo/US Navy - Jennifer A. Villalovos