Category Archives: Current Operations

On-going Naval Ops or Maritime Current Events

Landsknechte

America Should End Mercenary Contracts (Part II)

This feature is special to our Private Military Contractor (PMC)’s Week – a look at PMCs’ utility and future, especially in the maritime domain.

By Tim Steigelman

Assume America’s vital interests are threatened by a distributed network of tribal insurgents Country Orange. The American government needs to close with and engage the enemy. The Orange government agrees to either openly willingly allow or silently cooperate with American military actions in Orange.

American military planners can either send in uniformed military, or PMCs. Preferring to privatize this operation, the government hires (the fictitious) “Mercenaries ‘R Us” to handle the job. To maximize its profits, Mercenaries ‘R Us declines to armor its contractors’ wheeled vehicles or aircraft, obviates back-up communications devices, decides against individual body armor, and arms its mercenaries only with pistols and long guns. They keep a light footprint and send small teams out into known hostile territory. The inevitable happens, and the enemy successfully ambushes the contractors, with many killed and wounded.1

If the injured PMCs were instead American servicemembers, they would be given medical treatment and rehabilitation through military medicine. The VA, for all its flaws, would attempt to help the wounded recover and restart their life after their injuries. If the fallen were uniformed military, their survivors would be taken care of with survivor benefits. All of these benefits were enacted by Congress to support the men and women who go abroad to do the nation’s work in harm’s way.

In our example, Mercenaries ‘R Us sent its employees downrange to do America’s bidding. That is where the similarities to the uniformed military members end. PMCs are not entitled to use military medicine.2 There is no VA for contractors. Death benefits are limited to whatever Mercenaries ‘R Us has arranged for its employees and their survivors—likely very little.3 As long as the stock price stays high and the dividends keep coming, the shareholders are unlikely to have very much concern for the human toll of warfare.4 Battles fought in the name of the American people may not be watched particularly closely by a group of investors primarily concerned with the bottom line.

In other words, by hiring Mercenaries ‘R Us to fight its battles, America has externalized the cost of war, particularly caring for its combat wounded and the survivors of the fallen. No congressional committees to answer to, no pictures on the nightly news honoring the fallen, no unpleasant reminders of the horror of war. The policymakers get to conduct their military expedition, and the economic cost is borne by the shareholders of Mercenaries ‘R Us.

But even on the economic front, hiring PMCs may not be wise in the first place, as contractors may not cost any less overall than uniformed servicemembers.5 Nor does outsourcing insulate the government from responsibility for its actors, because when the government contracts out to private actors to perform public services, those actors become agents for the state.6 Moreover, contract warfare seems to skirt at least the spirit of mandatory Congressional oversight of the nation’s military.7 For all these reasons and as the hypothetical above shows, the inherent tension between public, military service and private ends is fraught with peril.

Private military contractors are one facet of the military-industrial-congressional complex that ought to be dismantled. The profit motive is out of American prize courts, and letters of marque have fallen into disuse. The modern renaissance of PMCs seems an anachronism, perilously like the “large Armies of foreign Mercenaries” that so offended the founders. As disparate personalities as Machiavelli and Washington well understood, mercenaries introduce a host of problems that outweigh their seeming availability as ready, armed manpower. America should get out of the mercenary business.

Tim Steigelman is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Oceans and Coastal Law at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, Maine. He practices business law and admiralty at the Portland firm Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman, and is a reserve naval officer. The opinions above are solely his own, and do not purport to express the views of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor any agency or department of the United States, nor any other organization or client.

1. This hypothetical is drawn from Burke v. Air Serv. Intern., Inc., 685 F.3d 1102 (D.C.Cir. 2012).

2. Out of necessity, injured contractors do receive medical care from military doctors when in theater, which is both a cost driver to the government and a point of contention.  Once stabilized and sent home, the gratis health care ends and the injured mercenary is left with private medical insurance.

3. Citing Jimmie I. Wise, Outsourcing Wars: Comparing Risk, Benefits and Motivation of Contractors and Military Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan (2009–2011), MBA Professional Report, Naval Postgraduate School (2012), available here.

4. A private company is generally required to maximize return for its shareholders, and corporate officers who make decisions at the expense of shareholder returns may face liability. Corporate oversight, such as it is, is exercised by shareholders.

5. See Isenberg, “Are Private Contractors Really Cheaper?”.

6. See, e.g., West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, nn. 14-15 (1988).

7. See U.S. Constitution, Article I § 8 (requiring biannual reauthorization for the raising and supporting of armies).

Landsknechte

America Should End Mercenary Contracts

This feature is special to our Private Military Contractor (PMC)’s Week – a look at PMCs’ utility and future, especially in the maritime domain.

America Should End Mercenary Contracts

By Tim Steigelman

Over the course of the last decade or more, scholars and pundits have debated the feasibility and legality1 of employing private military contractors2 (“PMCs”) in lieu of uniformed American military forces. What follows will be a two-part post looking at the historical antecedents and contemporary problems with mercenaries.

 I. Historical View of Private Warfare

 Historical Mercenaries

Mercenaries long predate modern PMCs. Perhaps the best known example from European history is the condottieri, the soldiers for hire who would fight for one prince or another as their paymaster dictated. One well known Florentine had quite a bit to say about condottieri, blaming them for failing to defend Italy against the invading French led by King Charles in the late fifteenth century. He explains the underlying problem:

“if a prince holds on to his state by means of mercenary armies, he will never be stable or secure . . . . Mercenary captains are either excellent soldiers or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, since they will aspire to their own greatness . . . but if the captain is without skill, he usually ruins you.”3   

Nevertheless, the title condottieri lives on today as part of a PMC trade name.4

Mercenary soldiers in America predate the republic itself. Hessian soldiers were famously dispatched from their German homeland to fight George III’s war against the rebellious colonists. This use of mercenary force was such an affront to the political wing of the Continental resistance that it declared King George had transported “large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat [sic] the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”5 Having fought the “large Armies of foreign Mercenaries” himself, George Washington echoed Machiavelli and “warned that ‘Mercenary Armies . . . have at one time or another subverted the liberties of almost all the Countries they have been raised to defend.’”6

 The American Civil War saw its share of the private hiring of soldiers, albeit not in a classic mercenary context. Previous mercenaries like the condottieri and Hessians were complete units that would be hired to go into combat as a unit. The Enrollment Act of 1863 established a draft for military service, and permitted conscripts to hire a substitute, a person who, for a fee, would take that draftee’s place, allowing the paying customer to avoid the draft.7 The Civil War system of substitutes kept the essence of the mercenary relationship—soldiers for hire, paid under a private agreement to fight—but these were retail, rather than wholesale mercenaries. Although the draft was reinstituted for several decades of the 20th century, it is telling that the substitute system was never reintroduced.8

 Privateers Profiting from War at Sea

The profit motive once enjoyed a prominent if relatively small role in American military power. At the founding, Congress was (and arguably still is) empowered to issue letters of marque and reprisal.9 While no match for a ship of the line, privateers were effective at least as an irritant to British commerce during the revolution.

A privateer was not a pirate because a sovereign nation issued a letter of marque allowing the privateer to take the enemy’s commercial vessels and keep them as prizes.10 Perhaps surprisingly to a modern audience, the earliest versions of American prize law even allowed American naval officers to retain some of the proceeds of prizes taken by commissioned American warships.11 That profit motive is no longer on the books.12

Even so, private, for-profit companies like Blackwater (now Xe), Triple Canopy, and others have provided contract military and related services to the United States. While proponents will point to their successes and opponents point out failings, their efficacy or lack thereof is beside the point. America should not use mercenaries because it distorts the relationship between an elected government and the people by privatizing inherently governmental services.

With this predicate the next post will examine more closely contemporary problems with mercenaries and war for profit.

Tim Steigelman is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Oceans and Coastal Law at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, Maine. He practices business law and admiralty at the Portland firm Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman, and is a reserve naval officer. The opinions above are solely his own, and do not purport to express the views of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor any agency or department of the United States, nor any other organization or client.

1. See, e.g., Theodore T. Richard, Reconsidering the Letter of Marque: Utilizing Private Security Providers Against Piracy, 39 Public Contract Law Journal 411 (2010); see also Claude Berube, Contracts of Marque, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, 2007 Vol. 133.

2. The term “contractor” or “military contractor” has been long used in defense circles to encompass much more than the subset of commercial mercenary armies, to include private people and entities of all kind providing goods and services to the DOD under a contract, differentiating “government contractors” from civilian government employees. Take, for example, Edward Snowden, widely and properly reported to be an NSA contractor at the time of his heroic and/or infamous acts. For purposes of this piece “contractor” will be used in the narrower sense of armed private forces, and interchangeably with PMC.

3. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (Peter Bondanella & Mark Musa, eds. & trans.) Penguin Books, 1979, pp. 116-17.

4. Condottieri Contractors. http://www.condottiericontractors.com/

5. The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776).

6. Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 , n.43 (1957)(quoting 26 Writings of Washington 388 (Fitzpatrick ed.)).

7. http://michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-54463_19313-125416–,00.html, a Michigan state government website with a good introduction and access to records of principals and substitutes from the Civil War.

8. While the availability of deferments during Vietnam was much debated and reeked of much of the same inequality as directly hiring substitutes, the deferment process at least had the sparing virtue of eliminating private commercial transactions from the process.

9. U.S. Constitution, Article I § 8. The arguable part comes from international treaties and state practice—or rather, lack of practice.

10. See, e.g., The Schooner Adeline, 13 U.S. (9 Cranch) 244 (1815)(a prize proceeding brought by a privateer).

11. See Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 170 (1804).

12. 10 U.S.C. § 7668.

seacontrolemblem

Sea Control 23 – USS PONCE

seacontrolemblemCAPT Rodgers, former CO of the USS PONCE Afloat Forward Staging Base, discusses how his ad-hoc crew of Sailors and civilian mariners plucked a 40 year old ship from decommissioning’s doorstep and turned it into the most in-demand platform in the Arabian Gulf.

(DOWNLOAD: SEA CONTROL 23: USS PONCE).

Sea Control is available on Itunes and Stitcher Stream Radio. Remember to tell your friends! We think Sea Control is a fine product. Anyone who says otherwise is going to steal all your banking information and email passwords because information should be free, man.

 

All images from CAPT Rodger’s unclassified post-deployment presentation on USS PONCE.Slide26

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Editor’s Note: The real question is who the jerk is who threw the chairs all around before they left.

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Suez Canal Authority HQ in Ismailia, Egypt

Israeli Private Security in the Suez Canal?

By Jasen Sagman

Suez Canal Authority HQ in Ismailia, Egypt

Suez Canal Authority HQ in Ismailia, Egypt

Egypt’s military-backed government recently dismissed reports that Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has hired Israeli private security company Seagull Maritime Security to guard the vital waterway.

Reports began to circulate on local social media early several weeks ago, with cyber-activists citing the company’s website as saying that Seagull was capable of embarking/disembarking armed guards at locations, all approved of by the local government authorities, including Suez, Egypt.

According to a subsequent SCA statement, the reports “are categorically devoid of truth… and aim to shake security and spread false news,” however a report by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights recently revealed that the security company provides maritime security services for cruises and cargo ships passing through the Suez Canal in Egypt.

In fact, the Egyptian authorities have granted the company a license to work in the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. Additionally, the company is authorized to work in Arab and African ports including Jordan, UAE, and Oman. According to the report, the company is one of the few whose guards are allowed to disembark fully armed on the Egyptian island of Tiran.

The company is a member of the Israeli Association of Private Security Companies, and was founded by its CEO Kfir Magen, who served as an officer in the Israeli navy. The company’s directors were prominent leaders of the Israeli armed forces, including Eliezer Marom who served as a navy commander between 2007 until 2011. The company’s advisory board chairman, Ami Ayalon, served as commander in chief of the navy in 1992, and served as head of the Shin Bet in 1996.

Despite the report, the SCA maintains that the Suez Canal is secured exclusively by Egyptian police and army forces.

Jasen Sagman is pursuing an M.A. in Global Diplomacy from the University of London, SOAS. He works for a Member of Parliament in Ottawa, and holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. This post appeared in its original form at the Atlantic Council of Canada.

Bodies of Asylum Seekers Washed Ashore in Yemen

Human Smuggling Across the Gulf of Aden (2013 Edition)

Bodies of Asylum Seekers Washed Ashore in Yemen

Bodies of Asylum Seekers Washed Ashore in Yemen

Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released figures on the number of migrants crossing the Gulf of Aden (and risking their life) by sea and arriving at their destination in an “irregular” manner. The quantity of African migrants seeking a better life to the north was actually significantly down from last year, with approximately 62,000 arrivals in Yemen during 2013 so far (compared to approximately 89,000 in the first ten months of last year).  In all of 2012, 107,500 people had made the same journey, a slight increase from 103,000 in 2011.  2011 and 2012 were by far the highest annual figures since UNHCR began collecting records in 2006.

Most of the migrants this year were Ethiopians (51,687), reflecting the ongoing trend since 2009. Their rationale and plan for such a dangerous journey was typically “the difficult economic situation at home” with them “hoping to travel through Yemen to the Gulf States and beyond.”  The remainder were mostly Somalis, who are “automatically” recognized as refugees, unlike citizens of other states whose ultimate status must be determined by UNHCR.

The journey across the Gulf of Aden is the one of the most used of the many dangerous maritime routes currently employed by desperate migrants trying to get to more economically developed nations.  Dangerous conditions and unscrupulous vessel owners are unfortunately common, with the October sinking near the Italian island of Lampedusa of a migrant boat whose voyage originated in Libya gaining worldwide attention after killing at least 300.

The European Union’s EUROSUR effort is supposed to “to reduce the number of deaths of irregular migrants by saving more lives at sea,” but even if it proves effective in making the Mediterranean crossing less deadly, it is unclear whether such an initiative could be replicated in the seas between Yemen and Somalia.

On a related note, in recent days there have been riots and battles between the authorities and undocumented immigrants (many Ethiopian) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The government claims that it has detained 30,000 illegal workers.  Unfortunately, a government crackdown on undocumented labor in Saudi Arabia may currently be one of the best demand-side deterrents that could discourage potential migrants from risking their lives by attempting such a risky voyage.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson is a Naval Intelligence officer currently serving on the OPNAV staff. He has previously served at Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2).  The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official viewpoints or policies of the Department of Defense or the US Government.

The Italian (yellow) and Maltese (red) SAR. The red exclamation point marks one of the latest incidents, where more than 100 immigrants died at sea. Below a zoomed image of the same map (Source: Repubblica.it and Google Maps)

The Southern Mediterranean Immigration Crisis: a European Way Out

The Italian (yellow) and Maltese (red) SAR. The red exclamation point marks one of the latest incidents, where more than 100 immigrants died at sea. Below a zoomed image of the same map (Source: Repubblica.it and Google Maps)

The Italian (yellow) and Maltese (red) SAR. The red exclamation point marks one of the latest incidents, where more than 100 immigrants died at sea. Below a zoomed image of the same map (Source: Repubblica.it and Google Maps)

felix2After the recent tragedies in the Southern Mediterranean Sea (SouthMed), when several improvised vessels – transporting illegal immigrants to the coasts of Italy and Malta – sank, resulting in the death of several hundred immigrants, the issue of migration flows crossing the SouthMed has resurfaced to the international stage. Italian Prime Minister Letta offered an unprecented, and not well received, official apology for the loss of lives at sea, promising more surveillance in the area and, most importantly, to bring the matter to the forthcoming October meeting of the European Council.

The situation was briefly discussed, with the promise of an improved commitment of the EU, especially through its border control agency, FRONTEX, in supporting the Italian struggle in the SouthMed.[1] Unfortunately – although one may say luckily for those States which don’t wish to be entangled in expensive border control operations – the issue was overshadowed by the NSA scandal, with the well-known protests by several European leaders.

Returning to the matter at hand, Italy has promptly launched Operazione Mare Nostrum[2], deploying 6 additional ships and supporting aircrafts for enhanced surveillance operations in the SouthMed, in particular:

 

-          The San Marco, San Giorgio-class amphibious assault ship (7790 tons), command ship;

-          2 Frigates Maestrale-class (3100 tons);

-          2 Patrol ships Comandanti-class (1500 tons);

-          1 Transport Ship Gorgona-class (630 tons)

-          For airborne surveillance, 1 Long-range Maritime Patrol Aircraft Breguet Atlantic, 1 Predator, 1 Patrol Aircraft P-180, 2 EH101 helicopters, 4 Agusta-Bell 212 helicopters and 1 Search and Rescue helicopter HH-139 SAR.[3]

At the same time, reports of a possible agreement with the Finnish Coast Guard surfaced, with Finland sending technical and equipment support to Italy. Moreover, FRONTEX is reportedly going to send financial help to Italy, for its ongoing operations and future endeavors. In practical terms, it appears that the European response to the issue is, at least in the short-term, fairly adequate. It is also apparent that a definitive solution to the crisis will require a more substantial commitment to the area and to the stability of the States on the Southern end of the Mediterranean.

Although it is clear that the EU should undertake a more substantial role in a long-term solution, it is also clear that many within the EU would be more than happy to commit to conciliatory statements and visits (the last visit to Lampedusa by the President of the Commission Barroso and the Italian Prime Minister Letta was welcomed by protests) rather than action.[4] What many commentators, especially those who accuse Italy of negligence and complicity in such tragedies, forget is that Italy’s borders facing illegal immigration are completely maritime, thus increasing the costs and risks for surveillance and assistance. Moreover, illegal immigration activities carried at sea entail a completely different set of technical, juridical and even physical problems that are unknown to land borders. The current practice of the individuals transporting illegal immigrants is that of reaching the Search and Rescue Areas (SAR) of Italy and Malta,[5] then disabling their boats and sending a distress call to the Italian authorities, which are then legally bound to locate and rescue them. Once the Italian Navy or Coast Guard reaches the distressed vessel, it is either towed or its passengers taken on board by Italian ships and carried to Lampedusa. There the illegal immigrants are screened and given the possibility to apply for asylum or to be repatriated. As an obvious consequence, the current crisis has completely overwhelmed the processing centers in the small island, thus sparking protests by both Lampedusa’s residents and the “interned” immigrants. For these reasons, Italy has been in “crisis mode” for more than a decade in its SouthMed area, and it is not likely to overcome this issue on its own. It must be underlined that only the incredible efforts of the Italian Coast Guard, Navy and Guardia di Finanza[6] have made it so that these tragedies at sea are exceptional, rather than the norm, saving more than 30000 illegal immigrants since January 2013.[7]

It is apparent that a solution to the current situation needs to pass through an improvement in the internal situation of the States of origin of the migrants, or at least in the ports where they board to try to reach Europe.[8] In previous maritime-borne immigration crises (such as those stemming from the Balkans in the 90s), only an improvement in the countries of provenience eventually blocked the immigration flows. In practical terms though, the effort for stabilizing Libya and improving the feeble governmental structures in Tunisia has to come from the EU. Firstly because of its calling to put together European interests in the protection of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and second because the EU is the sole entity with both the political and budgetary power to face the matter head-on. Nevertheless, one of the most renowned issues in EU foreign policy is the need for unanimity decisions by all its Member States, and today –  as in the foreseeable future – consensus on a substantial commitment to the security and safety situation of the SouthMed appears unlikely. This does not mean that all avenues for the EU are closed. Despite the need for a unanimous decision on major shifts in foreign policy, there are a series of institutions and bodies which can help in practice – even better than a European Council deliberation – on the matter. The EU Commission Development and Cooperation Directorate General (DG DEVCO) has the power to initiate development projects with third States, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) has the capabilities and connections to analyze and establish the policy priorities in the SouthMed. Moreover, the vice-President of the Commission (the second in ranking in the institution) also happens to be the Head of the EEAS (as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), thus a coordinated effort is indeed possible.[9] Lastly, various integrated surveillance systems (e.g. SeaBILLA)[10] are under study, with the objective of putting together the European Union Member States maritime control systems and authorities for an enhanced cooperation in the area of sea-monitoring. While FRONTEX is going to financially support the Italian Navy and Coast Guard and the possible agreement with Finland will bring more vessels and personnel to the area, much more is needed on the Southern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

It is in the nature of an institution such as the EU to work on consensus, and such consensus is often forged on the wave of public support driven by exceptional events, such as the tragedies in the SouthMed. Nevertheless, it is also in the nature of such institutions to respond to public pressure with conciliatory remarks and provisional policies, avoiding politically complicated high-level negotiations. Whether the EU leadership will put its supportive statements into practice remains to be seen, but it is apparent that the time of temporary responses to endemic crises is over.

Matteo Quattrocchi holds a LL.M. from Georgetown Law as well as a Master’s Degree in European and International Law from Luiss in Rome, Italy. He is currently a Junior Researcher at the European Institute for Asian Studies, after having worked in the NGO and private sector and taught in Rome and Washington, D.C. He is specialized in International and National Security Law and Policies, EU-Asia Relations and Maritime Security Law and Policies.



[1] European Council Conclusions, 25 October 2013, find at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/139197.pdf

[2] As a side note, many Human Rights organizations have protested the name of the operation, claiming it has a colonialist sound to it, as Mare Nostrum was the name the Romans gave to the Mediterranean, literally meaning “our sea”, a term also often used during the 1910s expansion of the Italian Reign. The author believes that any further comment on such “protests” is merely a waste of bytes (although at least not of ink and paper).

[3] Gianandrea Gaiani, Operazione Mare Nostrum, Analis Difesa, 22 October 2013,find at http://www.analisidifesa.it/2013/10/operazione-mare-nostrum/ and the Italian Navy website, http://www.marina.difesa.it/EN/thefleet/Pagine/default.aspx

[4] EU leaders rebuff calls for action on Europe’s migration crisis, Reuters, 25 October 2013. Find at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/us-eu-migrants-idUSBRE99O0NB20131025

[5] There is a long-standing diplomatic row between Italy and Malta, as in theory most of the ships that end up being towed to Lampedusa are rescued within the Maltese SAR. Italy has requested Malta to limit its SAR to its actual capabilities, but Malta has staunchly refused to this day. Moreover, Malta applies UNCLOS to the letter, allowing migrant vessels freedom of passage in its controlled waters. When a distress call is sent, Maltese authorities often refer to the Italian Coast Guard (even within their SAR), claiming that they don’t have the technical capability to rescue the vessels or that they are closer to Lampedusa. When a distressed vessel is rescued within the Maltese SAR, Italy requests to make port in Malta, but such requests are generally refused, claiming that Italian structures are better suited to sheltering distressed vessels and their passengers.

[6] This is Italy’s Customs and Border Police, which has also jurisdiction over tax frauds (hence the name Finance Guard).

[7] Italian Coast Guard General Command, News Release, 9 October 2013, find at http://www.guardiacostiera.it/dalcomandogenerale/documents/notizia_20131009084556.pdf

[8] Hugh Williamson and Judith Sunderland, Shipwrecked. No Easy Fix For Europe’s Asylum Policy, Foreign Affairs, 24 October 2013. Find at http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140223/hugh-williamson-and-judith-sunderland/shipwrecked

[9] The EU has created a Task Force for the SouthMed in 2011, pairing the EEAS, the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The current state of the SouthMed does not speak up for the results of this task force. For more information please see HR Catherine Ashton sets up Task Force

for the Southern Mediterranean, EEAS, 7 June 2011 at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-11-688_en.htm

[10] For more information please visit http://www.seabilla.eu/cms/seabilla

Typhoon Haiyan’s Aftermath

typhoon-haiyan-survivors-in-philippinesFor those watching the news the past few days it should come as no surprise that Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda locally) – one of the strongest ever to make landfall – has wreaked devastation across a central swath of the Philippines (and is headed in weakened state for Vietnam). The death toll could well top 10,000 and the naval forces of the Philippines, the U.S., and other nations are expected to help in the recovery efforts.

On Saturday Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that Pacific Command will initially provide “surface maritime SAR, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed-wing lift support, and logistics enablers.” Marines from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) in Okinawa, along with KC-130J Hercules, MV-22 Ospreys, and P-3C Orions are in the Philippines or expected to arrive shortly.

Naval forces may have been told in the days prior to ‘lean forward’, which would complete the journey soon for sustained Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Response (HA/DR) efforts. These are in addition to the U.S. forces and AID efforts already present, mostly in the south of the nation.

Meanwhile analysts and foreign observers are watching to see China’s reaction – whether it comes in the form of aid or taking the opportunity to press its “changing the situation on the ground” approach to territorial claims.

Two ways to personally provide support to relief efforts are through the Red Cross and Team Rubicon. Please also remember the greatest need is often weeks after the initial disaster.