prioritize their capacity to deter acts of piracy and has
been a significant factor in the reduction in piracy in
the vicinity of the Horn of Africa over recent years,” he
said in an interview at the conference.
Where other major alliances have a thick policy
manual that requires unanimous agreement on all
issues, Miller said CMF runs on a paragraph.
“It says, basically, ‘Come on, join us if you want to,
glad to have you, and whatever your national authorities are we’re going to respect those. And if we ask you
to do something that exceeds your national authorities, just tell us, and then we’ll do something different,’” he said.
The sheer size of the area that must be covered by
coalition forces is enormous.
“There are over a thousand oil and gas installations
sitting offshore in the Gulf. Western Europe would fit
quite comfortably into the Indian Ocean; Great Britain
could fit into the Gulf. And when one considers that
on many days we may have, perhaps, half a dozen
ships patrolling in or around the Indian Ocean, that’s
like trying to control Western Europe with six police
cars, and none of them can go beyond 30 miles an
hour. It’s a huge challenge, a huge area,” Royal Navy
Commodore Keith Blount, the U.K. Maritime Component commander and deputy commander of CMF,
said during his remarks in Abu Dhabi.
Communications can be an issue, but there are
workarounds. The Combined Enterprise Regional In-
formation Exchange System (CENTRIXS) enables com-
mands at sea to communicate via chat and pass data
and plans via e-mail. CENTRIXS
The web-based Mercury network
is run by EU NAVFOR through
their Maritime Security Centre-
Horn of Africa, and provides near-
real-time chat between participants
in any of the counterpiracy mis-
sions to share threat notifications
and declare intentions.
“Mercury provides shipping with the ability to
report real-time details of piracy attacks or suspected
piracy events over great distances to the counterpiracy
forces in the region so that a quick military response
can be provided to ensure the safe transit of all shipping through the region,” Capt. Craig Powell, Royal
Australian Navy, CMF director of operations, said in an
interview at the conference.
“Asymmetrical threats, now increasing and span-
ning from the West African coastline across to Central
Asia, coupled to diminishing naval capabilities, partic-
ularly those of EU member states and the U.S. military
due to sequestration and re-pivoting toward Asia,
emphasize the need to move from military cooperation
to military collaboration,” Col. Martin Cauchi Inglott,
of the Armed Forces of Malta, currently assigned to the
European Union Military Staff in Brussels, said in an
interview after the conference. “Key to this shift would
be the ability to exchange information on the basis of
‘responsibility to share’ rather than one based on ‘need
to know,’ not only nationally amongst agencies, but
across borders as well.”
Blount said there has been progress in developing
the means to exchange information.
“With the capability there needs to be a will to exchange information, a readiness to exchange information,
if we are to go forward together as well as we can,” he said.
But, he added, the coalition concept is working, and
nations are participating for reasons above national
“Just the fact that there are gray hulls out there does
provide reassurance to the merchant community, as it
has done for centuries,” Blount said.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 30 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014
The Royal Danish Navy frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt patrols the Arabian Sea
Jan. 2 in support of Operation Ocean Shield, maritime interception operations
and counterpiracy missions in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility. Iver
Huitfeldt is assigned to Commander, NATO Task Force 508.