New Urgency In Washington About Piracy

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says there's a new urgency in Washington about piracy now that Somali pirates have for the first time captured a U.S.-flagged ship and an American crew.

Mullen tells NPR he has ordered a fresh look at potential military solutions and other less lethal ways to combat piracy.

Those taking part in the review, says Mullen, will include senior Pentagon officers in operations and intelligence, as well as Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, the top naval commander in the Arabian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The Navy has already dispatched more warships to the waters off Somalia, but there is debate within the Pentagon about any future course of action.

Some are suggesting possible military strikes against pirate havens along the Somali coast.

Gortney says the U.S. Navy can't be everywhere. The area in the waters off Africa where pirates operate is four times as large as Texas.

Gortney says commercial shippers must do more to protect themselves against pirates, including arming their crews and sailing farther away from known pirate locations.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he expects to spend long hours in the White House situation room in the coming weeks trying to figure out what to do about pirates.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.