Last night, thanks to the efforts of dozens of Navy SEALs, Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued from Somali pirates. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden is not news to our analysts. Jena Baker McNeill wrote back in November:
These modern pirates are not unlike their swash-buckling predecessors. Much like searching for treasure, their primary goals are economic. Piracy is easy money–pirates take over a ship, seize a few hostages and millions of dollars in cargo, and wait for the shipping company to eventually pony up the money.
There is growing concern that these pirate groups could team with terrorist and radical Islamist groups–such as al-Qaeda–that may seek to harm the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. is a maritime nation and does have an interest in ensuring that other nations can protect their own supply chains, disruption of which can impact the global markets. And there is a need to develop, through mutual cooperation between the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, maritime constabulary power–America’s ability to use law enforcement and military capabilities to maintain law and order at sea.
Heritage also recently hosted a panel discussion entitled Pirates of the Gulf of Aden: How Piracy Plunders Maritime Security. You can view video from that hour long event here.