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Pirate Alley: Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia

With piracy on the rise and fast becoming a serious global security issue, Admiral Terry McKnight took command of a new multi-national task force in 2009 to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden. As task force commander, he directed operations that disrupted several hijackings and resulted in the capture of sixteen Somali pirates. After running head-on into a U.S. policy of catch-and-release, he realized that there was more to fighting piracy than just catching youngsters armed with AK-47s and RPGs.

McKnight retired from the Navy and began researching the problem. This book, co-written with journalist Michael Hirsh, is a very readable yet authoritative introduction to the subject. The authors explore every aspect of Somali piracy, from how the pirates operate to how their actions have impacted the world economy. They examine various attempts to solve the problem, including placing armed guards aboard merchant ships, and highlight the best ways to outfit ships for travel through high risk areas. But they warn that a consequence of successfully protecting such targets as container ships and crude oil carriers may be that pirates turn to crime on land, such as the kidnapping of foreigners.

In addressing the worldwide economic impact of piracy, they note that piracy costs as much as $13 billion a year, and in 2011 took 1000 seafarers into captivity. One shipping company argues, however, that over-reaching shipping regulations have a greater negative effect on the economy. The book concludes that in the interest of justice and to protect the free flow of commerce throughout the world, the United States government needs to take additional measures to stop the flow of U.S. dollars for ransoms payments that serves as the only reason for piracy in the region. With a foreword by Jim Miklaszewski.

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Tony Heimer, CAPT, USN (Ret) says:

Pirate Alley I see there is also a novel by Stephen Coonts with the same title. Not to take anything away from Mr. Coontz as I am an avid fan, but RDML Terry McKnight has done a great job of explaining the successes and challenges of the developed world in combating the current threat of Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean. The Admiral is a straight-shooter and most willing to provide his opinions, even when they might be viewed as controversial in today’s “politically correct” world. Some of his…

J. E. Smith says:

piracy primer I have a hard time reading books by professional military people because they often get tangled up in details and use a lot of confusing, alphabet-soup acronyms. That’s not really the case here, although the retired Navy admiral who wrote “Pirate Alley” (with a journalist’s help)certainly gives you a factual, basic textbook on how dirtbag Somali pirates operate.It turns out they are both sophisticated and stupid – they’re well-financed and organized by gangs in Somalia, but the drugged-up…

Leslie Holland says:

Fascinating Read! Reading this book as a civilian with no military background, the only knowledge I’d had on this subject were the nightly newscasts that had segments dedicated to the pirate attacks.This book allows you in a sense to be the fly on the wall and feel like you were in the room during the very discussions shaping the outcome of thease attacks. The ability to see how the US maneuvered through some of these difficult times and to even hear an actual recording really puts you in the…

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