U.S. Exercises "Freedom of
October 1, 2009
Washington DC, United
The United States Navy
is conducting what it calls "Freedom of Navigation Exercises" throughout the
world, with the idea of keeping countries from making claims to water outside their 12 mile territorial limit recognized by the United Nations.
A past example of
this practice occurred with Libya and the Gulf of Sidra in the
1980s when Libya's Colonel and dictator Mummar Qaddafi laid claim to the entire Gulf of Sidra, which was far in excess of the 12 mile limit.
The United States Navy moved in with three carrier battle groups and began a massive operation off the coast. The end result was Libya lost several ships and aircraft during the engagement. However, they stopped pushing the claim to the Gulf of Sidra. The loss of lives, military equipment, and international face proved to be too much for the Libyan dictator.
Such operations are routinely carried out by the US Navy against close to 40 countries that have claims beyond the 12 mile limit, including several of the United States own allies. For the most part, these operations don't involve shooting as
in the Libyan episode. They do however, cause an increase in tensions and the risk of loss of life is very real.
Some call the operations 'an act of war' because it places large numbers of military units in direct
vicinity of a foreign country. "Aggressive, arrogant, and just plain stupid" is some of the other comments. Military pundits in the Pentagon call it a military and political necessity, if the country's in question can get away with their claims then many more would try their hand at it. But when the USN shows up and contests each claim, then the others see it as nothing more then a futile waste of energy and time.
Just recently the US Navy conducted Freedom of Navigation Exercises off Somalia, Angola, and Indonesia. Aggressive snooping tactics were employed and in all three times the countries in question ordered their militaries to 'an unnecessary state of alert' because of the close proximity of US
In a press release,
Indonesian President General Zanjak stated that "[President]
Baldwin is charting a very dangerous course these days. His naval task
force that he has positioned off the southern coast of our country is
both threatening and unnecessarily provocative. But Indonesia will not
be intimidated and we will defend our sovereignty to the death. He risks
completely de-stabilizing the entire pacific region with his actions.
And I believe that this is in reality his ultimate intention."
The statement went
on further to describe their intent to enter a non-aggression pacts with
other countries in the region and blasted the U.S.'s insensitivities to
Asian cultures in the past, bringing up both the "debacle" of
the Vietnam War and "their recent pummeling of our Islamic
brothers in Malaysia just to the north. Beating up on smaller nations
seems to be a favorite past time of Baldwin's. They do not seem to learn
any lessons from the misery and death that they spread".
It went on to call
for similar protests from other world leaders and demanded "the
immediate withdrawal of the US task force from our doorstep. In the face
of this unacceptable threat to our peaceful country, I have raised the
alert status of our glorious freedom fighters in the military one level.
Pentagon officials dismissed this
statement and the actions of other Countries who have heightened the
alert status of their military, claiming that the US Navy doesn't intend to invade nor are they there to start trouble.
They are there "Merely to conduct Freedom of Navigation Exercises" and nothing else. That might be all and good but the countries who are on the other end of the operations aren't
pleased or impressed with such actions by another country, and in some
cases an ally.
Pentagon officials have stated that such operations will continue for as long as there is a need for them.
Kelly Crawford (ENN)