Combating Somali Piracy: the EU's Naval Operation Atalanta - European Union Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 157-159)

Dr Lee Willett and Mr Jason Alderwick

21 JANUARY 2010

  Q157  Chairman:  Dr Willett and Mr Alderwick, can I welcome you to the Committee, and thank you very much for the time you have given us this morning. Perhaps if I could just go through a couple of housekeeping things, we are being webcast, and of course, this is a public evidence session. The notes that are taken of the meeting will be sent to you for you to look through, and of course, if there are any factual errors we have made in terms of transcription, then you will be able to change those, but obviously not things that have actually happened or are part of the process. As I mentioned to you before, you know or you have an idea of the sort of questions that we are going to ask, but you do not both have to answer all the questions, and I will leave it very much to you to decide who answers what questions, and whether you both have a contribution. Just to be clear, this is part of a very specific inquiry looking at the EU Atalanta Operation. It is a frustration to all of us that we are not able to look more deeply at the deep-rooted problem of Somalia as a whole, but it is primarily around the operation there. I do not know whether either of you have a short opening statement that you would like to make, but I am sure the Committee would be pleased if you would like to introduce yourselves, and just briefly to give a very quick background in this area, and your own studies.

Mr Alderwick: Certainly, good morning, My Lord Chairman. My name is Jason Alderwick, I am the Maritime Analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, I have been there for four years. Prior to that, I was a Warfare Officer in the Royal Navy for eight years. My role at the Institute is effectively looking at naval and defence issues predominantly on the maritime side of things, and production of the Military Balance as well, but part of my role is looking at the wider implications of maritime issues and maritime securities.

  Dr Willett: My Lord Chairman, good morning, I am Dr Lee Willett, and I am head of the Maritime Studies Programme at RUSI. I have been at RUSI for about 10 years now. Previously, I was Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Hull, and also seconded to the naval staff at the Ministry of Defence as a research analyst there. My job at RUSI is to look at all things maritime, and that is an ever broader spectrum of issues, ranging from specifically naval issues to the wider issues of maritime security and issues relating to commercial shipping. I also take an interest in what the UK is doing at the moment in terms of nuclear deterrence, and the defence review is my remit. In terms of an opening statement, I did have a little point that I thought I might make, that perhaps might serve to get things going, particularly in relation to the questions that you have listed, and Mr Alderwick may have a view too. A personal view on this matter is that there is a need to focus very much on what navies can do in this, as opposed to what they cannot do, because there are some tasks that they just cannot solve. They cannot solve the issue of the Somali social, political, economic problems ashore. What they are there to do is to escort ships, to intervene, to intercept, detain, disrupt, and in so doing, what they can do is bring a measure of stability and security and more importantly confidence in the region that can help to buy space to begin to make wider improvements to the situation in Somalia and the region, but given the various issues that we will come to in due course, number of assets, the complexity of the problem, et cetera, I think we have to be realistic about what we can expect the naval forces in the region to be able to achieve.

  Q158  Chairman: Thank you very much. Mr Alderwick, did you wish to add anything at this stage?

  Mr Alderwick: Not at this stage, no.

  Q159  Lord Swinfen: Are you satisfied that the navies can operate within the territorial waters of Somalia under present conditions legally?

  Dr Willett: The various mandates under which the naval forces do operate do, according to those who are required to operate out there, give them the freedom that they need to be able to fulfil their mandate.

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