The Office of Naval Research is seeking fresh tactics for fighting the problem of Somali piracy, and it is turning to the defense community via an increasingly common tool for crowd sourcing tactical advice: a video game. ONR's Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) exercise will gather more than 1,000 players into a three-week scenario where they'll deal with the complex nature of a changing and evolving threat.
It's safe to say MMOWGLI won't look like a massive multiplayer round of Black Ops or Counter Strike. ONR isn't looking for players that are particularly adept at collecting frags with a virtual rifle, but rather for minds from academia, the defense industry, government organizations and other defense- and naval-related fields that might produce solutions to a set of difficult problems. Like how to defend a growing swath of a major shipping lane from determined bandits in small, fast boats.
But it's also looking for suggestions from the larger crowd, as the game is open to anyone who wishes to sign up. Gameplay is more like tweeting. Log in and two text boxes appear. One asks what new resources could turn the tide in the fight against Somali piracy. The second asks what new risks could arise that would transform the piracy situation. You get 140 characters to answer each.
Players then vote on each other's suggestions and, if they wish to, make suggestions to improve them. The more "yea" votes a player gets, the more points he or she stacks up. There are three rounds, one week per round. By the end of the game the ONR hopes to know two things: how it might solve the Somali piracy problem, and whether or not MMOWGLI actually works. If it yields successful solutions to the piracy scenario, it could be applied to a variety of difficult global problems in the future.
It is not yet available to members of the general public, but here is a link to the registration site:
UAVs! Establish semi Random but dense sweeps of said shipping lanes using UAVs (preferably higher altitudes so pirates don't realize they are being watched). Follow targets back to their base of operations, then place a bunch of cruise missles on target, or if anyone remembers the MOAB which we detonated some years back, drop one of those on the base. Problem solved. Or we could just surround the base with several warships, and put a bunch of holes in their ships as they sit in berths or try to escape.
Just a simple thought...
What's the problem? People pay big money on fishing guides and big game hunting expeditions all over the world. I would think that Pirate Hunting Tourism could be the next big thing in vacation packages, especially among our Southern brethren here in the UAS!
Q-Ships. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q-ship ) Heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure pirates into making attacks.
"One asks what new resources could turn the tide in the fight against Somali piracy."
It's called jobs.
I'm sorry but who said it was governments job to protect shipping lanes. Shipping companies have money. They can defend themselves against a bunch of poorly armed pirates.
The only problem is that the trophies are so disapointing when you hang them on the wall.
Maybe we could take some inspiration from the classic computer game Elite. Put a bounty on the pirates and arm the merchant ships.
... except it took so damn long to go from dangerous to elite.
They need to make new Q ships simple really.
The Q-ships is probably the best idea, and they wouldn't have to be too elaborate. You would want to be able to easily modify any existing vessel to act as a Q-ship so the pirates wouldn't be tipped off that a ship of a certain type or size would be more or less likely to be a Q-ship.
You could get a specially trained commando team, perhaps with small UAVs to help keep watch at night, and some kind of device to entangle the pirate boat propellers, to leave them helpless in the water. Well, maybe not helpless, they would still be armed, but most likely they would still surrender once their boat was immobilized.
The real problem is not tactical, but political. If you want to reduce piracy you have to get the pirates off the field. Once a Q-ship team caught some pirates, they would have to be imprisoned for some lenghty period of time. I know we would all like to shoot them or blow them up, but realistically that can't be done on a large scale without the UN or some human rights organizations causing trouble. There has to be some kind of political agreement on jailing them, and for long enough that significant numbers of them would accumulate, and that the ready supply of Somalians willing to be pirates would run low.
But where would the jails be? Who would pay for them? How big a staff would be required to look after all those prisoners? And how long would it take for the poor uneducated slobs who have lived for 20 years without any kind of government to lose their interest in piracy?
Tech-wise rather than build Q ships, build Q-shipping containers. Basically a pop-up weapon system and a control station. Since most transport vessels carry numerous shipping containers on deck, you don't need to change the ship, just mount a couple of containers on a preexisting vessel.
I'd suggest a stabilized 7.62 minigun as the primary choice- loaded with tracers it makes a pretty impressive display, and has adequate range, light and fairly cheap. A Mk 19 could also work.
Politically, it's going to need a spine transplant. More Yardarms!
HBillyRufus: pirates? jails? Somehow those two words just don't jive. Armed ships... Pirates... Floating debris... Fish food... It just makes better sense.
Would they really need much in the way of weaponry? I would think one guy with a rifle on a ship could pretty effectively deal with a group of pirates trying to attack from a small boat.
i would suggest using a global hawk or Hermes drones or the new defense dept. airship, for high altitude surveillance, then attack uavs & maybe even something along the lines of what Iranian navy using g.e.v's for quick response; most ships would be able to carry quad copter or desert hawk uav's that can be quickly launched as spotter drones, then predator or reaper can be deployed when necessary;
another alternative is shipping companies hiring mercenaries to protect cargo or private sector security firms;
but i would suggest best idea would be to teach Somalians how to extract oil & other precious metals from their own country, as they reckon it was due to foreign countries over fishing their seas & thereby depleting their food supply & export potentials;
but i do prefer the shoot 1st ask something later scenario
Drop flyers in all major cities in Eastern Africa, etc, wherever pirates are known to come from. Flyers will state that pirates will be fired upon the moment they are spotted, and that there will be no quarter or mercy. Detail ammunition to be used against them will be starshot or hollowpoint, for extremely painful death.
Allow companies to arm their ships, or contract out to private security companies to allow them to have weapons on board for defense of the contracted ship.
Make good on the promise.
ID'd pirate ship gets within 300 yards of contract ship. Pirate boat is fired upon. 3 out of 4 combatants are found screaming in pain or choking on own blood. Throw these ones overboard, send last surviving member back to land, spread the word.
Would WWII type convoys, protected by destroyers, be of any use under current circumstances?