There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fly…

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist
2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky/Released

This news broke about a couple hours ago — Reuters is reporting that Somali pirates have seized a Danish-owned, U.S.-operated container ship on Wednesday with 21 American crew on board. The report quoted Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme as saying that the 17,000 ton vessel was hijacked in the Indian Ocean 400 miles off the Somali capital Mogadishu, the crew is safe and that the vessel had been tentatively identified as the Maersk Alabama.

Maersk Alabama, formerly named Alva Maersk is a 17,400 ton vessel. If the ship has been correctly identified it is owned by Maersk Line, Limited or Denmark’s A.P. Moller/Maersk A.S. According to globalsecurity, Maersk Line, Limited, a subsidiary of Denmark’s A.P. Moller/Maersk A.S., is independently controlled by a board of directors comprised entirely of U.S. citizens. Also this: “Maersk Line, Limited is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and is one of the Department of Defense’s primary shipping contractors. It has been a reliable partner for the government in peacetime and war for almost 30 years. The company operates vessels registered in the United States in full compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. It manages a fleet of nearly 50 ships in commercial and government service, including vessels requiring Top Secret security clearances.”

Just a day ago, the Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain had issued a Combined Maritime Forces Issues New Alert to Mariners (Release #058-09) saying in part:

“The notice also reiterates the fact that despite increased naval presence in the region, ships and aircraft are unlikely to be close enough to provide support to vessels under attack. The scope and magnitude of problem cannot be understated. The area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometers), roughly four times the size of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined. The length of the Somali coastline is roughly the same length as the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”

Do you think the pirates of Aden have finally chomped more than they could swallow this time?

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There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fly…

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist
2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky/Released

This news broke about a couple hours ago — Reuters is reporting that Somali pirates have seized a Danish-owned, U.S.-operated container ship on Wednesday with 21 American crew on board. The report quoted Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme as saying that the 17,000 ton vessel was hijacked in the Indian Ocean 400 miles off the Somali capital Mogadishu, the crew is safe and that the vessel had been tentatively identified as the Maersk Alabama.

Maersk Alabama, formerly named Alva Maersk is a 17,400 ton vessel. If the ship has been correctly identified it is owned by Maersk Line, Limited or Denmark’s A.P. Moller/Maersk A.S. According to globalsecurity, Maersk Line, Limited, a subsidiary of Denmark’s A.P. Moller/Maersk A.S., is independently controlled by a board of directors comprised entirely of U.S. citizens. Also this: “Maersk Line, Limited is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and is one of the Department of Defense’s primary shipping contractors. It has been a reliable partner for the government in peacetime and war for almost 30 years. The company operates vessels registered in the United States in full compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. It manages a fleet of nearly 50 ships in commercial and government service, including vessels requiring Top Secret security clearances.”

Just a day ago, the Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain had issued a Combined Maritime Forces Issues New Alert to Mariners (Release #058-09) saying in part:

“The notice also reiterates the fact that despite increased naval presence in the region, ships and aircraft are unlikely to be close enough to provide support to vessels under attack. The scope and magnitude of problem cannot be understated. The area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometers), roughly four times the size of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined. The length of the Somali coastline is roughly the same length as the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”

Do you think the pirates of Aden have finally chomped more than they could swallow this time?

Up Close and Personal: Reconstruction & Stabilization Operations

Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work, according to a study released last week by the RAND Corporation.

“The military isn’t the best agency for reconstruction and stabilization missions, even though it can get personnel and resources to a location quickly,” said Nora Bensahel, lead author of the study and senior political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Putting the military in charge of these tasks also sets a bad example because one of the key components of democratic theory is civilian control over the military,” Bensahel said. “If these tasks are highly or completely militarized, it raises fundamental doubts as to whether it is, indeed, democracy that is promoted by U.S. assistance.”

On Personnel Surge?

“Absent fundamental changes in organization and resources, the State Department and USAID will probably be more knowledgeable about stabilization and reconstruction issues than DoD but nowhere near as good at surging personnel in response to a crisis. Developing the capacity in civilian agencies to surge personnel and funding will need to be a key priority of senior U.S. leaders all the way up to the presidential level in order to spark changes in both capacity and organizational culture. The question is whether the State Department and USAID can develop and maintain the ability to surge personnel and funding in response to a crisis, or whether DoD will continue to be relied upon to undertake stabilization and reconstruction missions.”

The Lead Agency?

“If nation-building remains a foreign-policy priority for the United States but the majority of resources and capabilities for that priority are concentrated in DoD, that organization, which already has the military missions under its control, will become the lead agency for a major component of U.S. foreign policy. Such a development would weaken the role of the State Department, both at home and abroad. It would raise concerns about the weakening of civilian control over military policy and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. In short, it would be a fundamental realignment of how the United States both sees itself and is seen globally.”

The study recommends that the United States:

  • emphasize civilian, rather than military, capacity in stability and reconstruction missions
  • realign the roles of the National Security Council, State Department and United States Agency for International Development rather than create new bureaucracies
  • fund and implement the Civilian Stabilization Initiative
  • improve the ability to deploy police officers for both community policing and specialized tasks
  • improve crisis management for stabilization and reconstruction missions
  • ensure coherent guidance and funding for effectiveness and sustainability.

Read the summary here. Read the whole thing here.

Related Item:

RAND: Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
By: Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Heather Peterson
Download: 0.5 MB pdf file; 105 pages

Up Close and Personal: Reconstruction & Stabilization Operations

Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work, according to a study released last week by the RAND Corporation.

“The military isn’t the best agency for reconstruction and stabilization missions, even though it can get personnel and resources to a location quickly,” said Nora Bensahel, lead author of the study and senior political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Putting the military in charge of these tasks also sets a bad example because one of the key components of democratic theory is civilian control over the military,” Bensahel said. “If these tasks are highly or completely militarized, it raises fundamental doubts as to whether it is, indeed, democracy that is promoted by U.S. assistance.”

On Personnel Surge?

“Absent fundamental changes in organization and resources, the State Department and USAID will probably be more knowledgeable about stabilization and reconstruction issues than DoD but nowhere near as good at surging personnel in response to a crisis. Developing the capacity in civilian agencies to surge personnel and funding will need to be a key priority of senior U.S. leaders all the way up to the presidential level in order to spark changes in both capacity and organizational culture. The question is whether the State Department and USAID can develop and maintain the ability to surge personnel and funding in response to a crisis, or whether DoD will continue to be relied upon to undertake stabilization and reconstruction missions.”

The Lead Agency?

“If nation-building remains a foreign-policy priority for the United States but the majority of resources and capabilities for that priority are concentrated in DoD, that organization, which already has the military missions under its control, will become the lead agency for a major component of U.S. foreign policy. Such a development would weaken the role of the State Department, both at home and abroad. It would raise concerns about the weakening of civilian control over military policy and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. In short, it would be a fundamental realignment of how the United States both sees itself and is seen globally.”

The study recommends that the United States:

  • emphasize civilian, rather than military, capacity in stability and reconstruction missions
  • realign the roles of the National Security Council, State Department and United States Agency for International Development rather than create new bureaucracies
  • fund and implement the Civilian Stabilization Initiative
  • improve the ability to deploy police officers for both community policing and specialized tasks
  • improve crisis management for stabilization and reconstruction missions
  • ensure coherent guidance and funding for effectiveness and sustainability.

Read the summary here. Read the whole thing here.

Related Item:

RAND: Improving Capacity for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations
By: Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Heather Peterson
Download: 0.5 MB pdf file; 105 pages

Quick Update on State Department Nominations

I got a couple of questions about some nominees for State, so I’ll do a quick update here. The following nominations for the State Department has been submitted by the President to the Senate for confirmation and are currently undergoing committee consideration. Since the Senate is on spring break until 4/19, nothing is expected to happen until after April 20. The nominations listed below are in reverse chronological order based on the referral date to the SFRC.

Mar 26, 09 PN253 Department of State

Luis C. de Baca, of Virginia, to be Director of the Office to Monitor
and Combat Trafficking, with rank of Ambassador at Large.

Mar 23, 09 PN226 Department of State

Johnnie Carson, of Illinois, to be an Assistant Secretary of State
(African Affairs).

Mar 23, 09 PN225 Department of State

Harold Hongju Koh, of Connecticut, to be Legal Adviser of the
Department of State.

Mar 18, 09 PN208 Department of State

Susan Flood Burk, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President, with the rank of Ambassador.

Mar 11, 09 PN169 Department of State

Ivo H. Daalder, of Virginia, to be United States Permanent
Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

I understand that an unnamed senator has also placed a hold on Mr. Gordon’s nomination. This nomination has already been considered and approved by SFRC but did not get confirmation prior to the spring break. Mr. Gordon is currently listed in the Senate Executive Calendar for full Senate vote on April 20.

April 20, 09 Nomination in the Senate Executive Calendar

Philip H. Gordon, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (European and Eurasian Affairs), vice Daniel Fried, resigned. Mar 31, 2009 Reported by Mr. Kerry, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Quick Update on State Department Nominations

I got a couple of questions about some nominees for State, so I’ll do a quick update here. The following nominations for the State Department has been submitted by the President to the Senate for confirmation and are currently undergoing committee consideration. Since the Senate is on spring break until 4/19, nothing is expected to happen until after April 20. The nominations listed below are in reverse chronological order based on the referral date to the SFRC.

Mar 26, 09 PN253 Department of State

Luis C. de Baca, of Virginia, to be Director of the Office to Monitor
and Combat Trafficking, with rank of Ambassador at Large.

Mar 23, 09 PN226 Department of State

Johnnie Carson, of Illinois, to be an Assistant Secretary of State
(African Affairs).

Mar 23, 09 PN225 Department of State

Harold Hongju Koh, of Connecticut, to be Legal Adviser of the
Department of State.

Mar 18, 09 PN208 Department of State

Susan Flood Burk, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President, with the rank of Ambassador.

Mar 11, 09 PN169 Department of State

Ivo H. Daalder, of Virginia, to be United States Permanent
Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

I understand that an unnamed senator has also placed a hold on Mr. Gordon’s nomination. This nomination has already been considered and approved by SFRC but did not get confirmation prior to the spring break. Mr. Gordon is currently listed in the Senate Executive Calendar for full Senate vote on April 20.

April 20, 09 Nomination in the Senate Executive Calendar

Philip H. Gordon, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (European and Eurasian Affairs), vice Daniel Fried, resigned. Mar 31, 2009 Reported by Mr. Kerry, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.