NATO Continues Counterpiracy Mission

NATO member states pledged to extend Operation Ocean Shield, the alliance’s maritime interdiction mission off the Horn of Africa, for an additional two years through 2014. “This decision reflects NATO’s enduring commitment to counter the threat of piracy that exists in the Gulf of Aden and in the Western Indian Ocean,” states an alliance release announcing the March 19 agreement. “NATO’s naval effort is making a difference, with the number of successful pirate hijackings down significantly in 2012” from preceding years, according to the release. NATO said its assets foiled four pirate attacks in January, down from 29 attacks—six of which were successful—during the previous January. NATO ships cooperated with US and European Union task forces in capturing 80 suspected pirates in January alone, states the release. NATO launched Ocean Shield to escort and defend commercial shipping in 2008. Since 2009, the US military has acknowledged operating Reaper remotely piloted aircraft from the Seychelles to counter pirates.