Pirates ‘outwit us’ off the coast of Somalia

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Aircraft carrier project leaves defence budgets ‘exposed’, MPs warn

Have your say

THE Royal Marine in charge of fighting Somali pirates off the coast of Africa has paid tribute to his ‘nimble’ enemy for out-thinking military bosses.

Major General Buster Howes, who leads the EU naval taskforce in the Gulf of Aden, told MPs the pirates ‘have an intellectual cunning and are adaptable’.

He told MPs sitting on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee: ‘They (pirates) sometimes out-think us in terms of ‘‘If we do this, what will they then do?’’ They can certainly react more quickly than we can.’

Major General Howes, who is due to address the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the issue today, hinted at imminent military action ‘to erode the pirates’ sense of impunity’.

He said the targets would be the so‑called motherships, vessels seized by pirates and then used as launchpads for new operations in deeper seas.

He added that merchant ships should be able to do more to defend themselves, even suggesting they carry armed guards – a move which would require a change in UK law.