Back to Maritime Security Conference Page
- Dr. Ron Ratcliff, U.S. Naval War College
- Thomas Countryman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
- CDR Frank X. Castellano, Commanding Officer, USS BAINBRIDGE(DDG-96)
- Dr. Win Froelich, General Counsel, National Association of Waterfront Employers
October 14, 2009
RON RATCLIFF: Good afternoon. I am Ron Ratcliff. I will be the moderator of panel number two this afternoon. I, like Derek and Tom, work for Adm. Phil Wisecup, professor at the Naval War College. And it is my great pleasure today to chair the panel that is going to be talking about confronting maritime challenges.
I looked at the bios of the individuals who are going to be speaking to you today. It struck me that with Mr. Countryman, we have an individual who develops policy. Certainly with Cdr. Castellano, we have an individual who has been involved in implementing policy. And with Dr. Froelich, we have an individual who represents people who either suffer or enjoy the benefits of that policy being implemented.
Our task today is to address three questions. What measures are required to improve international coordination to improve maritime security? And what do naval operations in the Gulf of Aden teach us about countering or confronting piracy? And how do we use the lessons learned or relearned across DOTMLPF, or doctrine, operations, training, materiel, leadership education, personnel, facilities and policy?
The individuals who will be talking to you today is on my right, Dr. Froelich, who I would call a renaissance man. He is clearly interested in representing the people as the general counsel at the National Association of Waterfront Employees –
WIN FROELICH: Employers.
MR. RATCLIFF: But he is also a medical doctor and he is a clinical instructor at Georgetown University Medical School. And he is also the general counsel at the National Maritime Safety Association.
To my left is a young officer who is well-known today, Cdr. Frank Castellano, Naval Academy graduate of 1990, commanding officer still of USS Bainbridge for at least a couple more months.
CDR. FRANK CASTELLANO: Two more months.
MR. RATCLIFF: Doesn’t know where he is going to go yet, so personnel system is still in fine operation. He has been a commanding officer before. He was the commanding officer of USS Chinook PC-9. Also, a graduate of the Naval War College and was a fellow for the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group XVI.
Arriving a little bit later – at least we have been told – is Thomas Countryman, who is a senior Foreign Service officer who holds the rank of minister-counselor. And his position is principal deputy assistant secretary for political and military affairs. He has been there since June 2009. And what that means is he is the principal link between the Department of State and Department of Defense in charge of things as military assistance programs, diplomatic support to DOD, global operations, conducts strategic dialogues with allies and partners and is very involved in coordinating the U.S. effort in combating piracy.
So with that said, I am going to turn to Dr. Froelich to have his comments and we are off and running.
MR. FROELICH: Well, thank you. It is nice to be here. Thank you very much. I am always thrilled to participate in any of these discussions. And it is quite a change. I am sorry I didn’t hear what was said this morning. I was actually giving a lecture to the medical students, so it is quite a change. They, at least, took what I said as the gospel. (Laughter.) And I suspect I will have a little more skepticism in this group.
Let me tell you first who is it that I represent. The National Association of Waterfront Employers is the trade association for the marine terminal operators and stevedoring companies. Those are the folks who load and unload the ships. The typical structure is the ports are in this country by and large owned by a variation of local governments, state governments and bi-state compacts. For example, the New York Port Authority is a congressionally approved bi-state compact between New York and New Jersey. They then lease the land to the people that I represent who actually employ the longshoremen and load and unload the ships. Our customers are generally the carriers, the people that own the ships. So that gives you sort of the sense of who it is that I represent.
A couple of general points. First of all, I was asked to talk about sort of our view as the designated ankle grabbers in this entire system. And a starting point is that – kind of a bottom line for us is we will not and have steadfastly refused to exercise any power that could be described as police power. As a bottom line, we have frequently described it as we will not confront force with force. Our members won’t carry guns. If someone shows up with an AR-15 or an AK-47, we will not be there to say why are you here and what are you doing? We will be heading in the opposite direction and turn it over to the entities and agencies represented by the people in this room to deal with and confront with.
We are regulated by roughly 40 different federal, state and local agencies, most of which carry a badge and/or some kind of gun and frequently don’t talk to each other too well. We have a great deal of confidence in the individual organizations. We work extensively with the Coast Guard. They have been fabulous to work with. They listen to our concerns. They are responsive to our concerns. Where there are problems, they try to work them out with us in a cooperative manner and really have tried, particularly since 9/11, to understand our issues, our problems and our concerns. We also work extensively with customers, who I think are increasingly getting a handle around cargo chain security.
But we have a concern, first of all, that the various agencies, especially the federal and state agencies, have worked out all the coordination issues. The first example, and I will use a little bit of hyperbole, but it is a fairly accurate example. A couple years after 9/11 – I think it was 2003 – we had a vessel come in to New York just before Christmas and set off the Geiger counters on the radiation detectors. And immediately the world went into panic mode.
The customs showed up and took custody of the ship’s crew and sequestered them off of the terminal. The FBI showed up and started waving badges and guns and getting ready to conduct a criminal investigation. Coast Guard showed up and ordered the vessel to set sail. Well, recognize that the INS had already taken the crew and sequestered it. And they were gone, so there was no one who could put the ship at sail.
Someone – I am not sure whom – which agency decided that the best solution was to get a helicopter and pick up the box and drop it somewhere out in the Atlantic Ocean. But there was apparently no plan in place for doing that. So what we were told is someone started calling local helicopter operators saying excuse me, we have a container that may have a nuclear weapon in it. (Laughter.) And we wonder if you have got a helicopter available that has the capacity to pick it up and take it out and drop it. And, of course, the phone immediately went dead. (Laughter.) Everybody amazingly was busy at the time.
Finally, they sorted out – they got the ship out to sea, got it at about 10 miles off the coast. Determined that what it was a load of tiles like, you know, go on your kitchen floor that emit low-level radiation. But then we had another problem. We have a ship at hook 10 miles off sea or offshore and no one had the authority to say it could come back in. So it sat there for, I think, roughly two weeks. These vessels typically run a couple hundred thousand dollars a day in operating cost with nobody being willing to take the authority to say yes, you can bring that ship back in.
Things have improved since then. Although we will say, a couple years later, we had a similar incident where what ended up happening was the local state police showed up with their guns and announced that they were in charge and that they were taking command to the exclusion of the feds. Now, my understanding is all of that has been worked out.
I hope so, which brings me into our second concern, which is there are a lot of contingency plans in place today that we are very comfortable with and have some knowledge of. For example, we have spent a lot of time working with the federal government on what is our contingency plan if a port is damaged, if we lose, let’s say, Norfolk. How will we get the cargo that was destined for Norfolk into this country and keep it moving. And the federal government has done a lot of work on that issue with us.
What we are not confident of is that if we do end up with the box from hell sitting in a U.S. port that the plans are in place to manage that, that it has already been war-gamed, that the coordination already exists. It is clear as to which federal agencies are going to be in charge, what assets will be marshaled. And particularly, what role they expect us to play.
For example, if the contingency plan if you have a box on a vessel that contains the weapon from hell is for longshoremen to operate the crane to remove that box so that the various appropriate federal personnel can access it, forget it. The second they have any idea that there is anything like that in a box, our workers are going to be heading for the gates. So we don’t know, for example, is there anyone in the U.S. government anywhere on the continental United States who knows how to operate a cargo crane. My guess is not.
Secondly, if you are going to hook up that box to a Chinook or some large airlift vehicle to take it out and drop it somewhere, do you have the spreader-bar attachments that will hook up to a container crane to lift it. And if so, where are they? You know, there are a whole bunch of issues like that that at least no one has talked to us about. Now, maybe they are all sorted out. We don’t need to know the details of the plan. But it would be nice to know that the plan is in place. And I guess that is our second concern or maybe I have raised three.
One is we are not going to do law enforcement. The second is the government – the federal government needs to do a really bang-up job of coordinating everything, not only amongst the various federal agencies, but with the state and local government as to who is in charge of what. And third, there needs to be a plan, if there isn’t already, on how to deal with the box from hell, at least in every major port. If it were there tomorrow, who does what and what assets are available? And if it exists, thank you very much. It would be nice if somebody would just say, oh, by the way, we have got it all taken care of, so you guys don’t need to worry about it anymore. But thank you.
MR. RATCLIFF: Thank you. I will turn it over now to Cdr. Castellano for his unique perspective on these issues.
CDR. CASTELLANO: Thank you. I would like to thank the Atlantic Council and the Naval War College for inviting me for this seminar. It was a great invite to be here with all of these distinguished guests and speakers. I would like to start out, the perspective of my remarks as a shipboard commanding officer at the tactical level just recently returned three-and-a-half weeks ago from a seven-month deployment conducting counter-piracy operations along with other maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin area.
Counter-piracy in Bainbridge was thrust onto the international scene due to the Maersk Alabama incident that occurred in the April timeframe. It was a unique event and really not the norm of the current operations that are occurring out in the theater. However, the incident did help bring the problem of Somali piracy to the forefront and generated key discussions across all levels of the international community and the U.S. government.
So I would rather not just the dwell on the specific event of Maersk Alabama, but talk more in general areas of some of my observations and lessons learned while out on deployment conducting the maritime security operations and counter-piracy from a commanding officer’s perspective. And really the key areas are the coalition and international naval surface presence and the cooperation that is occurring down at the deck plate level. The coalition and international naval air contributions and how they repress piracy and then also our interactions with commercial mariners and their actions on the individual ships that are helping to prevent piracy events from occurring.
But first, we do need to talk a little bit about the area of operations and some of the current statistics that are out there. It had been mentioned the Somali coastline is roughly equivalent to the U.S. coastline from the tip of Maine all the way down to Jacksonville, Florida. So that is a large area of operations in which piracy can occur: base camps, pirate camps, supply routes. It is an ungoverned area overall that really can help pirates give them a secure base of operations.
The Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin are over 1.1 million square miles of water. That is a lot of territory. If you took the Mediterranean Sea and combined it with the Red Sea, that is the area that the coalition forces are operating in to repress piracy. There have been several pirate attacks that have not just occurred in the Gulf of Aden, but all the way out to the island of the Seychelles, which are several hundred miles off the East Coast of Africa. And then, we have also seen some piracy and maritime crime that has occurred close to the Red Sea and also up by Oman.
So the area is even expanding. The international recognized transit corridor in the Gulf of Aden, where most of our coalition forces are actually focused on, is 500 nautical miles long. And there is upwards of 33,000 vessels that transit through that area every year. So large area, lots of contacts and it is a challenge.
The current piracy statistics, it had been talked about earlier today. But there have been 152 attacks to date in 2009. Of those 152 attacks, 29 have been successful; 117 have been unsuccessful. And six cases of maritime crime have occurred. Currently, as of yesterday, there were four pirate ships being held and upwards of 80 Marines who are being held hostage. Overall in the grand scheme of things, there is less than 0.5 percent of overall traffic is subject to direct piracy attacks. However, any vessel that is going through the Gulf of Aden or the Somali Basin is affected by piracy. And we have been discussing that all today.
In terms of the coalition and international naval surface present cooperation that Ulrich was talking about today. Once you get the ships on station, we are working together to help prevent piracy. The presence and cooperation of both coalition and international naval vessels in the region demonstrates an international commitment to regional security and stability. Bainbridge was part of Combined Task Force 151, which at the time that I was there had U.S. forces, U.K., Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Pakistan, Singapore and others. During my operations, there was a U.S. commander and Adm. Howard. And then she turned over to an Adm from the Turkish navy.
So Combined Task Force 151, in addition, Bainbridge worked with NATO ships that were operating as part of the Standing Naval Maritime Group. There are European naval forces operating under Operation Atalanta, which are conducting the World Food Programme escorts. And then there are other nations that we interacted with that are in the area. India, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and even Iran had vessels in the Gulf of Aden. And at the tactical level, all of these ships are working together.
The communications between the naval units, the sharing of the situational awareness and our presence all are contributing to deterring, disrupting and suppressing pirate activity. One example of that cooperation – there was one evening that Bainbridge was patrolling our assigned sector up in the IRTC. We detected a pirate skiff that was coming out of the South. We were able to maneuver to get an advantage point on that vessel. And we communicated with an Iranian – excuse me, an Indian warship, which was escorting a group of merchant ships through the IRTC. And between our coordination – and it was all done ad hoc – we were able to help prevent an incident. We intercepted the skiff. We compelled it not to go any further. And the Indian ship was able to escort those vessels safely through. And that is happening every day.
And with that, we are providing reassurance to the commercial mariners. And that is through communications with merchant shipping through maritime awareness broadcast calls. And we are receiving a lot of positive responses. There is appreciation by the maritime community from one mariner to another mariner that international forces are out there and they are looking out for them.
Getting into naval coalition and international naval air contributions. There is a 15-minute window where really the piracy – the pirate attack occurs. And if the pirate is able to get onboard in that 15 minutes, then it does come from a piracy standpoint, to deter it to actually a hostage perspective. However, in that 15 minutes, we are using various naval air to help prevent that from occurring.
The patrol aircraft that are out there from numerous countries conducting that broad area surveillance of that large area and they are helping to direct the various naval surface forces suspicious vessels, whether those be mother ships or skiffs, just to go ahead and take a look to get a warship on scene and show that presence. Typically, those P-3s are the first on scene and help establish that situational awareness and help to reassure the mariners out there. And that actually is what happened with the first unit on scene with Maersk Alabama was actually a U.S. P-3.
Helicopters are being used very effectively as a pouncer asset. Speed, getting out there, conducting warning and disabling fire, if necessary, to break up a pirate attack on merchant ships. On numerous occasions, helicopters have prevented the attack and enabled surface forces to intercept and then apprehend the pirates. One event which occurred was the USS Gettysburg. Their helicopter was out, intercepted a skiff that was conducting an attack on a merchant vessel. They broke up the attack, followed the skiff back to the mother ship and then were able to intercept and board and take undertow the mother ship and then ended up turning the vessels over to the Yemeni coast guard and turned over the suspected pirates to the Kenyans, where they are being prosecuted right now.
Additionally, another asset that has proven its worth in theater was one that I had onboard Bainbridge, which is the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. It has various electro-optic and infrared sensors. And the vehicle is very covert and it has a 10- to 12-hour on-station time. This covertness helps forces to be able to see pirate activity.
One example, I observed a pirate vessel that was leaving the territorial seas of Somalia. Was able to track it and then position my ship to go ahead and intercept. During that intercept, we were able to view through ScanEagle the pirates throwing over their ladders, their weapons. And so that way, my boarding team was able to go on and we had the evidence of them having piratical implements in order to successfully prosecute them. And with the UAV, it can also take that broad area surveillance and then help direct other forces in.
And lastly, the commercial mariners are contributing to preventing piracy. They are getting on bridge to bridge reporting suspicious activity. They are responding to the maritime awareness calls of the naval vessels that are out there. And they are taking some active measures such as increased lookouts, using speed and evasive maneuvering if they become subject to pirate attacks. Fire hoses, long-range acoustic devices. Some vessels are making themselves a harder target also by putting barbed wire up and even embarking security teams that would actually engage pirates when they come in. And that is something that the maritime community is doing.
Their efforts are working. It is dissuading some attacks initially and preventing pirates from boarding or even provide that window of opportunity for a coalition ship or aircraft to get into the area to stop that attack from occurring. So all elements of the maritime community are working together in a real-time fashion day in, day out over in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.
Unfortunately, the maritime security challenge of piracy in the area remains significant. However, like I said, there is a total team effort going on. The presence, communication coordination, cooperation and shared situational awareness of all elements are helping to proactively counter the pirates and to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect the global maritime security and secure freedom of the seas. Thank you.
MR. RATCLIFF: Thank you, commander. And now I will turn it over to Mr. Countryman who will talk about policies that help inform these actions. Over to you, sir.
THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: Thank you very much, Doctor. What I would like to talk about is the U.S. government and the international response to piracy off the coast of Somalia, especially on the non-kinetic side. This was a great briefing on what is an extraordinary effort by the U.S. Navy and more than 20 other nations to confront piracy kinetically on the surface of the water. But we are working also in diplomatic, legal and industry fields.
To give you a little bit of background, in the last few months of the Bush administration, Assistant Secretary Kimmitt took the initiative to help establish an international contact group to confront piracy off the coast of Somalia. And the first meeting occurred in New York back in January. Both before and especially after the Maersk Alabama attack, Secretary Clinton enunciated this as a key priority for the United States to help lead an international group that could confront this challenge to freedom of the seas.
We also worked within the United Nations and have now passed two Security Council resolutions that called for this international mechanism to coordinate counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. So when I came into this job a few months ago as the number-two person in the Bureau of Pol-Mil Affairs at State, I inherited the duty of co-chairing together with deputy assistant secretary for defense, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston the U.S. government interagency steering group on our response, as well as representing the United States at the international contact group meetings on this topic.
Fortunately, I don’t have to do all the work myself. We have in the audience is Turk Magi, who is the person who does the day-to-day work within the Bureau of Pol-Mil Affairs. And, of course, there are many others in the economic bureau at State, within OST, Coast Guard, Maritime Administration and several other agencies that are involved.
Let me focus first on the contact group and what we are doing in the international situation. We held our fourth plenary meeting in New York one month ago. And I will brief you a little bit about the results. We will do our next meeting in New York in January. And this contact group is fairly unique in that it is not, in any sense, an official United Nations body, even though it is set up pursuant to a U.N. Security Council resolution. It is purely voluntary. And to get past some arguments, we had among participants about the concept of membership with some people wanting to block the membership of other countries with whom they had a dispute. We refer just to participation and participants and not to membership. And this serves us very well.
It is the principal specialized venue for international cooperation on piracy off of Somalia. It is distinct from another international contact group that deals specifically with the problem of Somalia, per se. That under U.S. leadership and with the participation of key European nations and the United Nations is seeking to find solutions to the state of lawlessness within Somalia, to find reconciliation, to help the transitional federal government to establish itself in Somalia.
Obviously, the work of the two is connected. And just as obviously, there is no long-term solution to the problem of piracy near Somalia without a solution onshore, without some kind of stability and capable government and law enforcement onshore in Somalia. But this contact group for piracy is specifically to deal with the aspects of it that we can confront even absent that long-term solution.
What we have is this community of likeminded nations, which comes together every few months to share information and to discuss issues of mutual interest relating to piracy. It doesn’t have a decision-making or a tasking authority, although we agree on a communiqué each time because that is what diplomats do. We don’t actually seek to enforce or to create new law with regard to piracy, nor do we have a mandate either for funding or taxation or to direct operations.
We do have a rotating chair. The last meeting was chaired by Japan. The next one in January will be chaired by Norway. And we have four working groups that I want to describe briefly, which four different nations have volunteered to chair. Informally, the U.S. has agreed to perform a secretariat function. And we even host now on the Department of State servers the contact group’s public Web site. And we will give you addresses for that, if you are interested.
The four working groups that meet in which participation is voluntary – you don’t have to participate in the working groups in order to come to these plenaries or to be a participant. The first working group is on military and operational coordination, information sharing and capacity building. It is chaired very ably by the United Kingdom. And perhaps the most important contribution that this working group has made is to set up the SHADE mechanism, the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction mechanism that is based in Bahrain and that brings together in really an unprecedented way, senior naval officers from more than 20 countries to talk through these issues. CTF-151 has a commander, but there is no overall commander for the assortment of NATO, EU and individual nations that have sent a ship or two to the area. And yet, there is extraordinary communication even in the absence of this formal mechanism and extraordinary cooperation in dividing up tasks and areas of patrol among these 20 nations.
The SHADE mechanism is co-chaired by the coalition, maritime forces and by EUNAVFOR. And it has, as you have just heard described by Cdr. Castellano, forged not only this cooperation among different naval forces, but new means of communication for merchant shipping to share information with each other and to share information with the military forces that are in the area.
The second working group is chaired by Denmark. And it focuses on judicial and legal issues. The intent here is to help the nations that are affected by piracy to find the appropriate legal frameworks to ensure the prosecution of pirates and that that prosecution is fair, is consistent and is effective. In that regard, it has grappled with issues such as the preference of some members of the contact group to set up a special court under the United Nations just to deal with piracy.
The U.S. and most of the members look at that with great skepticism as being unnecessary for a crime, which as serious as it is is still an old and familiar crime and not as sweeping in its implications as some of the genocides in Africa and Europe that led to the establishment of other international criminal courts. So instead, we are helping to steer this group toward supporting those countries that are willing to prosecute. And that means primarily within Africa and primarily Kenya. And I will come back to a couple of today’s issues in this regard in a moment.
The third working group is chaired by the United States. And it focuses on strengthening shipping, self-awareness and other capabilities. And almost everybody in this room is a better expert than me on the challenges that the maritime industry faces in dealing with this. I am convinced that this is where the center of the action is; that the most immediate benefit that can be gained is combating piracy is by helping individual shipping companies to make the decisions on self-protection, on readiness for evasive maneuvers on awareness and on communications that can enable them to deter and to defeat pirate attacks.
And as Dr. Froelich has already mentioned, the work that the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration have done with U.S. shipping industry in this regard is both open and creative and, to me, inspiring, quite frankly. And I don’t get to say that very much about government bureaucracies.
The important work on the international level besides dealing with the American shipping industry has been in this working group to work with the International Maritime Organization, which has helped to socialize these best management practices, not only among U.S. shippers because that is what the Coast Guard does here for us, but internationally, so that we can encourage the shipping industries of other nations to take those same kind of self-defense and deterrence measure that can protect themselves. Promoting these best management practices, supporting the affected seafarers, these have been the key tasks of this working group.
One, I think, beneficial outcome of this has been an initiative, pardon me, taken by four of the main shipping states earlier this year at the June meeting of the contact group to write a simple political declaration, which called now the New York Declaration, that pledges that these major flag states will encourage and require their shipping industry to adopt these best management practices. And since those four states, Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Island and Panama adopted this in June, the U.S. and five other major shipping states have signed the same declaration, which is, as it says, a declaration rather than a legal document.
The fourth working group has been chaired by Egypt. And it focuses on public diplomacy. What are the communication strategies that you can use to reach into Somalia in order to discourage piracy, to raise awareness of the destructive effects of piracy on the Somalis themselves? It is aimed not only at Somali audiences, but wider to the region and to the international community. It is not heavily funded, but at least the Egyptians believe that some of their efforts so far have already helped to reduce the glamour factor on the coast of Somalia for the pirate industry.
With that, let me get to just a few current issues to highlight for you. First, we want to continue to generate forces for counter-piracy operations. And it is a talking point that we seek to use in our interaction not only with our traditional allies in Europe within NATO, but almost anywhere we go when we do a political, military or a strategic dialogue. We continue to encourage people to participate either in CTF-151 or to participate independently as they have.
Second, we would like to encourage more states to prosecute the pirates who come into their custody. It is a big political difficulty in Europe. To give you just one illustration, in the Netherlands right now, there are a few Somali pirates who are sitting in jail. And it is not exactly like an American jail. They are able to give interviews to local newspapers in which they can talk about how much nicer a Dutch jail is than living free in Somalia and how they hope their sentence is short because they are looking forward to bring their families over to the Netherlands afterwards.
That becomes a political issue for any government. And as a result, most of the European Union governments are seeking any option than to bring these apparent pirates back to Europe for prosecution in their courts. As a result, we are focused very much on building the capacity of regional authorities. So far, that has meant Kenya, which has accepted more than 100 pirates dropped on them by various navies and is ready to prosecute them. But quite frankly, more than 100 pirates is about as much as the Kenyan legal system can handle. They don’t have an adequate number of prosecutors, courtrooms. It is expensive to do trials. And to bring witnesses back who may be in the Philippines or in the United States in order to participate in the trial.
We are seeking to support them – the EU with a well-funded program for Kenya that includes building some of the infrastructure they need. The United States through the Department of Justice by actually training additional prosecutors and providing expert help that will allow them to conduct these trials more efficiently. We are deeply grateful to the Kenyans for what they are doing. But Kenya has difficult domestic and regional issues. And as I said, they are about at their capacity.
Trying to find other states that both come close to meeting what Europeans and Americans would consider as the minimum standards for a legal system to prosecute and that are willing and capable of doing it is a real challenge, although we are searching elsewhere in the region, as well, for states that are willing to make at least a token contribution to what is a regional problem.
At the same time, we are seeking to provide additional support. And there are two important trust funds that have been not formally established by the contact group, but in general under the contact group patronage. One is run by the International Maritime Organization. And it has available funds that will help the regional states to build their capacity to actually confront pirates that can assist coast guards in the region, for example.
The second was just established last month and is being stood up right now and will be administered by the United Nations, but is a trust fund that can accept contributions from both governments and industry and that will specifically be used to build capacity in Kenya and elsewhere, if necessary, to build courtrooms, to bring witnesses back from wherever they may be, so that the trials can proceed effectively. And it is a very valuable way that both Europeans and the industry can help meet our common desire to see that folks are prosecuted.
We are also seeking under the contact group umbrella, but with a more limited number of countries that have the capability to understand better the financial flows that keep pirates in business. Now, it doesn’t take much to start this business, probably less than to open a dry cleaner on a street in Washington. But where the money comes from and where it flows back to and if we have the capability to interdict, trace and prosecute any of the people involved in the pirate industry is still an open issue and one that despite a year of work, I would have to say we are still at the beginning on.
And finally, of course, the issue that is outside the mandate of this contact group belongs to the other contact group. What can we do to help the transitional federal government to establish its authority to ultimately remove Somalia from the state of anarchy that it is in? This is a separate issue, but one that is of high priority for our State Department. It is one where quite frankly a small investment in terms of supporting this fledgling government we think pays huge dividends in terms of future costs that can be incurred due to piracy, as well as terrorism.
So that is it for the international contact group. We are up to 45 nations that are participating, seven different international organizations. We make sure that we include the major maritime industry groups in our delegation when we go to these meetings. And we look forward to seeing additional contributions to the new international trust fund that will enable us to make the non-kinetic contribution that complements the extraordinary work being done by the U.S. and other navies. Thanks very much.
MR. RATCLIFF: And thank you, gentlemen, for a very varied look at some of the things we don’t normally look at when we discuss this whole notion of maritime security. So with that, I think we have about 30 minutes for questions. Who wants to go first?
Q: Thanks. Phil Walker, U.S. Navy, Atlantic Council. I would like to – first of all, thank you very much for coming today. You are very welcome. I would like to slip in two questions, if I could, moderator. The first one, I would like to ask Cdr. Castellano. Mr. Countryman explained the higher-level complexities of prosecuting pirates. So I would like to get your understanding at the tactical level. What are your challenges in transferring pirates? I mean, what are the challenges that you face that are sort of out of the box and commanders just like yourself that are out there? So that is a question for you.
And Dr. Froelich, I would like to ask you – well, from your comments, I think I understand what the personnel that you represent are not willing to do. I would like to understand better across DOTMLPF, so maybe just say training or facilities, what is in the realm of possibility for the people that you represent? What is the level of participation? Is it training the first responders and using that crane? So I would like you to think about that and just ask Cdr. Castellano, if you could comment on that. Thanks.
CDR. CASTELLANO: From a tactical perspective on the suspected pirates, we have guidance from combined maritime forces commander, you know, Fifth Fleet on the evidence collection. Our visit, board, search and seizure teams are trained prior to going over to the area on witnesses, how we are task organized along with evidence collection and then also electro-optic collection of the event itself and our follow-on boarding.
So we have the training in that. It is a challenge getting the evidence and everything else and packaging up. Once the decision is made to take the pirates into custody and then possibly transfer them to Kenya, for instance, that is occurring at the CMF sea level on how they get from the ship to Kenya. And in some cases, the ship has pulled into Mombasa and dropped them directly off using the NCIS, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, assistance. Gettysburg turned over their pirates that way. The same thing with the Vella Gulf prior to that. So there is a method in place. It is a matter of at a higher level the connection is occurring.
DR. FROELICH: The short answer to your question – and I am happy to get into more detail. But at a starting point, we are eyes and ears. The Coast Guard has familiarized us with the term that I suspect, prior to 9/11, no one on any marine terminal anywhere in the country would have used and now I hear routinely in meetings and conference calls, which is situational awareness. And that concept is one that I think has permeated all of the organizational structures across this country down to, you know, the brand-new longshoreman.
And so we are very much eyes and ears. We look for abnormalities. I know that there have been a number of reports that have come from our workforce of various things happening that have resulted in fairly extensive investigations being initiated by various law-enforcement agencies of federal government. I don’t know the details of what has become of those, nor should I. But I know we make reports of things all the time.
Secondly, we are thrilled to provide you with any information and/or training that the federal government wants. We have been in an active effort with particularly customs to integrate the information that we have about what is coming to this country with their activities and to develop information for not just customs, but also for the Coast Guard and others about what we are anticipating.
We spent a lot of time educating various federal agencies about how we work. I was thrilled to participate in a Navy’s conversation with America a couple of years ago. It was sponsored by the Naval War College. And part of the concept that I think we were involved in getting a mind shift on is the goal and objective because I think the initial focus of a lot of federal officials was asset protection. If we have a threat, you know, we can put ships at anchor and surround them with Coast Guard vessels or we can hold them offshore. We can shut down the ports. And the reality is 15 percent of our GDP flows through our terminals, which means that if you stop even a container today and it doesn’t make it to Detroit or Kentucky or Alabama, the auto manufacturing plant closes within seven days.
When we had the labor lockout on the West Coast a few years ago, within less than a week, you started seeing manufacturing facilities all across this country close their doors. Even though they had a six-month advance warning that that labor unrest was going to occur, they still started closing their doors within seven days. Within seven days, you started seeing shortages on the store shelves.
So closing the flow of maritime commerce is simply not an option. And at least when the Navy looked their mission concerned, you know, protecting commerce, I think their mindset is now – and I don’t want to put words in their mouth because obviously, I speak for them even less than I speak for the private-sector vessel owners – but I believe their mindset now is how do we keep the commerce flowing as opposed to how do we protect the assets? If we lose assets, but the commerce keeps flowing, you know, you have done your job. That is a long answer to a short question, I guess.
MR. RATCLIFF: Thank you. The lady in the black and yellow blouse had her hand up.
Q: Thanks. Mary Ellen Connell from CNA. Tom, we have heard a lot during the day today about Kenya and the importance of Kenya in prosecuting pirates. But the political situation in Kenya is not good. And indeed, there is a lot of pressure also on the judicial system. Kofi Annan was just there. There is a terrible drought and I am really concerned that we may be expecting a lot more of Kenya than they can ultimately deliver.
Can you describe what other efforts are being made to find locations to prosecute pirates and what some of us may possibly do to contribute to that effort?
MR. COUNTRYMAN: Okay, that is a tough one. No, you are quite right that Kenya has got its own set of domestic challenges. It is under pressure from the international community to confront the real instigators of the post-election violence that they went through now nearly 2 years ago. The problem being that most of the instigators or even organizers of that violence are now in the government. And it is an issue they are seeking to put behind them.
It is not hard to conclude that the incentive for Kenya to cooperate on piracy prosecutions is not wholly altruistic, but is a means of doing something that the international community needs in order to reduce that pressure from outside on this difficult domestic human rights issue. And that is a very tough balance to play. How much are we asking them to do on piracy? And yet, how much do we still want them to do on other areas?
It is one reason, for example, that the United States ought not to be in the lead in asking for them to do more and more on piracy prosecutions because we are in the lead together with the EU on the related difficult issue. Very tough balancing act. And it is one that we have to manage carefully with our African – our leadership in the Bureau of African Affairs.
Other alternatives that we are trying to think about. One that the working group two on legal affairs is looking at is if we are not going to do a special international court for piracy, are there not models for hybrid courts, if you will, that could assist Kenya or another country in prosecuting pirates? For example, in Bosnia, after the war there when the Bosnian legal system was incapable of doing its own prosecution of war-crime suspects, Bosnian courts were not supplanted, but were reinforced by international, essentially European prosecutors and judges who worked within the Bosnian framework, but provided extra labor, if you will, extra legal labor and extra capacity to deal with these crimes in Bosnia.
Is this a potential model in Kenya, if you can get other states, particularly those that like Kenya are based on the British common law system to contribute some prosecutors and judges to operate within Kenyan law to clear this backlog of prosecutions, specifically on piracy? Just as I have described it, it is very complicated and it gets more complicated. But I think there is the germ of a good idea in there somewhere.
We are talking to Mauritius, to Seychelles, to Tanzania about their capability to do the same thing. In each case, it is complicated. What we disagree with a number of states, including some of our European friends, about is how much new legislation and new authority do you need? It is a view of our State Department lawyers that there is sufficient authority under the law of the sea and under existing international agreements for any state to prosecute pirates who have acted against the flag or the property or the citizens of that state. And we would like to see more of them do that.
Let me not get into where we are in discussions with any one of these African partners. In the region, it gets still more interesting if, for example, Yemen, which is the country right next to Somalia and equally – not equally, but also heavily affected by piracy. If they are willing to do more and yet they have a legal system that is less developed then Kenya and one in which we have less confidence, should we be handing over pirate suspects to Yemen or not? That might have been an easy question a generation ago. It is not today with our own obligations under human rights law. So those are some of the issues.
Where we can contribute, you know, while respecting the political concerns that our friends in Europe have, I still wish we could do more to help convince them that this is part of the responsibility, even if it is politically painful. It is not just to send a ship there as valuable as that is. It is not just to assist the transitional federal government in Somalia or to assist the government in Kenya. It is also to do your share of prosecution of international criminals. I know that is hard. And it is not something that we need to bludgeon our friends in Europe about, but to quietly encourage them to do a little more no matter how tough it may be domestically.
MR. RATCLIFF: Thank you. Right here.
Q: Steve Biel from the National Intelligence Council. Cdr. Castellano, you talked about your cooperation or your working with the Indian navy out there. Can you talk a little bit more about cooperation with some of the other navies that are not under a structure of one of the organizations out there, you know, the NATO group or Atalanta, the ones that are out there singly what kind of cooperation or lack thereof you had with those folks?
And as kind of a follow up to that, is SHADE the answer? And, in fact, has SHADE actually been approved because I know the Chinese were reluctant to participate in that. I wonder if that you can maybe comment, Mr. Countryman, about how that process is going.
MR. COUNTRYMAN: Very briefly, yeah, SHADE is evolving. And that is one of the fascinating things to watch is it is getting stronger and stronger. And it is proving to be flexible and adoptable. And there is some tremendous work done by NAVCENT, but with a real open mind from so many different partners. The Mercury system that allows ships to communicate with each other in real time – and you can comment on how well it works – but it is getting better all the time.
The Chinese issue is interesting because on the one hand, this is a naval deployment that is about as far from China’s shores as it has ever gone. It is something that you can see the naval officers of the People’s Liberation Army/Navy are eager to do. And they are eager to learn from their counterparts about how other navies operate.
On the political side more than on the navy side, China would still like to see a more formal mandate somehow from the U.N. and some kind of at least a veil of U.N. command and control over this mechanism. Nobody else thinks that is necessary. I think the Chinese will stick to that view. But what is very interesting is the degree to which the naval commanders have shown operational flexibility and openness and I think more than most people would have predicted beforehand. And we do respect the Chinese point of view on this just as we do appreciate the fact that they are showing this kind of operational open-mindedness and flexibility.
CDR. CASTELLANO: And with that is the – at the deck-plate level, the international naval cooperation occurred that used the example with the Indian navy. We had a positive interaction with the Iranian navy. We were out –
MR. COUNTRYMAN: Which is outside of SHADE.
CDR. CASTELLANO: Exactly. We were out patrolling a vessel. It came with a distress call. We responded, started heading towards it. It was about 30 nautical miles away. Sent ScanEagle to take a look. Started coordinating actually with a Saudi Arabian ship that was in the area. They launched their helicopter. And as we were coming on scene, there was an Iranian frigate and an Iranian oiler that was in the vicinity. The vessel actually happened to be an Iranian-flagged merchant.
So you had a Saudi Arabian ship, a United States naval warship and two Iranian ships that were responding to a distress call of an Iranian flagged ship. And the Iranians actually came over bridge to bridge and said we have got the ship. And I said roger that; I will go look for the pirates. And we started looking for the pirate skiff. Now, we did not find anything. But just that interaction that was occurring was positive.
And then we also just in terms of the maritime awareness broadcasts and the directed calls, exchange of information between ship to ship with Chinese, Indian and Russian naval warships just sharing that we have seen some suspect vessels here, here, these are where some patterns are, all working together.
MR. RATCLIFF: Here and here.
Q: Yeah, hi, Owen Doherty with the Maritime Administration. Commander, I just had another question regarding communication that is on the water. How is the communication with the merchant vessels out there? You know, they hit the security alert and then it goes. And sometimes it is a little bit of a lag. You may be acting, but I just – I get questions on that periodically, particularly with the U.S. flag.
CDR. CASTELLANO: Right. And with the vastness of the area, you know, really is what is causing sometimes the delay. What you also have, too, is the VHF bridge to bridge due to ducting over there. I have actually – we intercepted calls of vessels that were three (hundred) to 600 nautical miles away from us. I can’t affect something that far away with about 30 knots of speed. But if we intercept that, we can look on our – with our situation awareness to see is there another, you know, naval vessel in the vicinity and pass the information on to them or use Mercury, which is a – basically, it is unclassified on the Internet kind of sharing of information. Plus we have our classified methods that we pass information.
And you respond to what you can and also give reassurance to the mariners to ensure that they are taking those actions such as increasing speed, going ahead and making themselves a hard target whether charging fire hoses or just even moving the rudder causing difficulties for the suspected pirates to board because the skiffs that they are using, too, dual engines usually. But they are not the most reliable engines. It is not like they have got a great boat shop repairing them. So sometimes little actions can actually cause some engines to conk out and then the pirates will go ahead and cease.
Q: Thank you. Jon Glassman, Northrop Grumman. With this very impressive – for Mr. Countryman – for a very impressive strategic and tactical infrastructure you have built, any thought given to expanding it to maybe issues of greater importance such as energy, transit from Middle East to Asia, proliferation security initiative, et cetera, using that infrastructure for those larger causes?
And number two, with the new Japanese government’s desire to change and reorient their pattern of expenditures, any possibility they might contribute to burden sharing for such a larger enterprise?
MR. COUNTRYMAN: Good questions. Two comments on it. One is I don’t know about expanding this particular network to something like proliferation security initiative, which is extremely valuable and which does function well. I do think that relations we build with other governments and other navies are going to serve us well in cooperation on the PSI around the world. But the contact group today includes countries that are not going to join PSI anytime in the future.
An example of how we can use this group to get into a somewhat broader field is already underway. And that is within the State Department, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is kind of a central coordinator for what we call security sector reform. So the embassies and the regional bureaus make a plan for Armenia or for Chad or for Paraguay. This is what we are going to do for an integrated approach to improving civilian control of the military, to improving the court system, to helping you build a modern coast guard, et cetera, from a variety of different pots of U.S. money and technical assistance, many different agencies.
We are trying now specifically to do a project called maritime security sector reform, which in one sense is a subset of the broader country-by-country programs for security sector reform, but that can focus on Coast Guard-type of functions, on safety and security and environmental protection and that can also include management of ports, can include developing the legal system to prosecute pirates and others, so a very broad array.
And what Mr. Magi and one of his employees were doing just last week in Europe was socializing a simple – well, a complicated matrix – a word I hate – of all the different projects that we are doing or are thinking about doing that relate to maritime security sector reform. And the idea being that we cooperate with the European Union and individual donors and Japan and everyone else to help plug in gaps. If you see that what you really need is to help develop the Kenyan coast guard, just to make up an example, it may not be that we are working on that at the moment. But it may be that one of the European countries is eager to do that. And at this moment, it is information sharing. It is not joint priority setting. But it is a useful outgrowth of doing this in the contact group.
Just a comment on Japan. I don’t know exactly where the new government will go. I think you will find – what I am told by Japan experts is that in Japanese society and even a little more so with the new government, the term counter-piracy is sexier and more positive than counterterrorism. So what does that mean? Does it mean, for example, they may shift the support they provide to CTF-150 that is doing counter-terror operations in the Arabian Sea and shift it over to CTF-151 to do counter-piracy just to show that they have made a change is possible.
But I think it is too early to know just where the new Japanese government is going to go in terms of a changed direction. I don’t expect a radical change direction. They are very valuable partners within this contact group and have been very generous donors to the IMO Trust Fund that is helping to build capacity in the region.
Q: David Pearl with the Office of Naval Intelligence. We have had several people this morning talk about the issue of the root causes of illegal fishing as it pertains to the root cause of piracy and other areas. I was wondering if you could speak to any efforts underway in Somalia, if anyone is looking at that particular aspect. Sort of a loaded question. I kind of look at that issue myself and I see there may be a lack of effort going on in that direction. But I just wanted to see if I am missing anything.
MR. COUNTRYMAN (?): I think that one is for you. (Chuckles.) I am looking at my colleagues from the Economic Bureau in hopes they can help me out. Doris, no?
MS. (?): For once, I have no comment.
MR. COUNTRYMAN: (Chuckles.)
MS. (?): Other than to say, the bureau that normally deals with that is the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. I am not sure where they are cooperating work with the Coast Guard and with local government. Obviously, there is an issue with that.
MR. COUNTRYMAN: I believe there is a fair amount of international interest in reestablishing the sovereignty of the EEZ. Setting up an EEZ off of Somalia is an important thing. You may first need to have a coast guard to enforce it. And you may need to have a government to run that coast guard. But folks know where they want to be going. And I think putting the EEZ back on track is going to be one of the lead efforts that we are going to see some of our partners in the contact group working on.
MR. RATCLIFF: I think we will let that be the last word on that. And I will turn it back over to Dr. Reveron. Thank you to the panel for your great insights and like I said before, a different look at these issues, so thank you. (Applause.)
Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.