By William Tucker
“If you look at last year, 30 ships and up to 700 hostages were held – today that is eight [ships] and around 200 [hostages].” – Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, the operation commander for the EU Naval Force in Somalia
In an aggressive change of tactics, the EU has approved its counter-piracy contingent in the Indian Ocean to engage Somali pirates on land. The new mandate doesn’t appear to allow hot pursuit of individuals suspected of piracy, however, it does allow forces in the region to engage fuel barrels, boats, trucks or other equipment on beaches. Essentially, any logistical supplies that the pirates use for their operations. As with any land based operation of this sort, civilians and innocents getting caught in the crossfire is a very real concern. Theater commanders will likely engage the approved targets as necessary, albeit very cautiously. This is a game changer and we’ll have to keep a close eye on how these operations are executed and how successful they are in dampening piracy in the region.