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US Navy Creates MMO To Fight Somali Pirates 318

dotarray writes "Ever wanted to fight Somali pirates without leaving the safety of your computer? Well, believe it or not, the United States Navy could use your help. MMOWGLI is a new video game project (that's Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet, by the way) that is being used to crowdsource ideas on how to fight off maritime terrorists and hopefully secure the Horn of Africa."
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US Navy Creates MMO To Fight Somali Pirates

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  • Too complex (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @03:46AM (#36091088)

    This game is too complex. To stop piracy: just sink these damned pirates. When they will all be in the depths of the sea the problem will be solved.

    One pirate in the depths of the sea is pollution, all the pirates in the depths of the sea is the solution.

    • Re:Too complex (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:20AM (#36091456)

      This game is too complex. To stop piracy: just sink these damned pirates. When they will all be in the depths of the sea the problem will be solved.

      Reality IS complex; people in general don't turn to crime or become terrorists simply because they are evil - if you start smply killing "the evildoers" without addressing the reason why they got to be that. And the solution is not likely to involve dumping an American style reality-show democracy on them. We really need to solve issues of social/political need and instability in the whole of Africa.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 )

        ...and Iraq/Afghanistan. Going in and shooting people isn't really really helping there.

      • How much history do you know, regarding Somalia? What do you know of the people?

        You MIGHT compare them with the America's Apache. If you even know anything about the Apache. The thing they have in common is, they are superb fighters, and have been for a long time, for basically the same reasons. They live in a hostile, barren land, and they are surrounded by peoples who have been trying to kill them off for thousands of years. Their history demanded that they fight or die, so they fought.

        The major diff

        • " undisciplined, ungovernable people on their hands, who they are attempting to govern"

          "didn't understand government, and wanted nothing to do with it"

          " The Brits left in disgust, and things are basically unchanged since then."

          Sounds like Americans.

      • Re:Too complex (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:47AM (#36092074) Journal

        "We really need to solve issues of social/political need and instability in the whole of Africa."

        Do WE really? Personally, as a citizen the USA, I'm kind of sick of us intervening everywhere. Take the current situation in Libya for example - why isn't the Arab League handling it?

        • The Arab leagues is made of dictators and kings who demand absolute control. They rule through fear.

          Fear only works so long in controlling a given population. people get tired of being afraid and fight back preferring death over dealing with a given dictator.

          Right now the people after 30 years are tired of being afraid and are currently tossing their leaders out the door the best they can. Jordan is doing so by appeasing them, others are using force.

          Britian is an excellent example of a King(or queen) app

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Agreed, let them destroy themselves. just mark those waters as dangerous and allow freighters to arm themselves to the teeth and tell freighters to "blow out of the water" any boat that get's within 2000 feet of them.

          Suddenly the pirate problem goes away when you launch harpoon missiles at fishing boats and chum the water with the pirates innards.

          Yes, I am recommending overreaction. no bullets, a minimum of 500 pounds of explosive as your first response. no pieces of the ship left larger than 3 inches

      • Re:Too complex (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:48AM (#36092532)
        The thing about your answer is that there have been people in the position like the Somalis for all of history, yet piracy was effectively wiped out for over 100 years. How did that happen? The British Navy made pirate hunting a top priority, and when they found pirates, they killed them. Many of these were summary executions, but some were brought back to port for trial. However, the purpose of the trial was not to establish guilt or innocence, it was to set an example to other sailors who might be considering turning to piracy.
        So, history suggests that the solution that the poster you responded to recommended works. History, also, suggests that trying to "solve issues of social/political need and instability" does not work. Historically, when outside groups try to solve a problem by addressing the "social/political root causes" of the problem, the problem gets worse. On the other hand, when those same outside groups drive up the costs and drive down the rewards of the problem behavior, the problem behavior diminishes. Often times, when the problem behavior is no longer a viable response to the "social/political root causes" the people who before went into the problem behavior act to correct the "root cause" of the behavior.
    • Re:Too complex (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpazmodeusG ( 1334705 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:47AM (#36091590)

      I was thinking the exact opposite. The game is too simple. There are just variations on combat missions to perform. There's no option to protect Somalian fisheries from the foreign trawlers that have taken advantage of the lack of government. There's no option to investigate foreign vessels dumping toxic materials in Somali waters.

      Basically the game has no way to long term plan. Instead it's all about finding ways to "kill em faster than they can be made". An approach that's never worked.

      • Basically the game has no way to long term plan. Instead it's all about finding ways to "kill em faster than they can be made". An approach that's never worked.
        I believe the carthaginians would disagree.
    • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:48AM (#36091594)
      There is a limitless supply of pirate wannabes, and there is a limited supply of relatively cheap boats for the pirates to use. Far better to target the kingpins, organizers, and financiers of piracy. The facts are, the pirates have better funding.
      • If you increase the "cost" of piracy by increasing the odds that the pirates will be killed and reduce the rewards of piracy by not negotiating ransoms, the number of pirate wannabes will diminish rapidly. The strategy of killing pirates, also works because there will be fewer experienced pirates who have learned what strategies don't work
        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          Go after their logistics. It takes a support network to keep a "mothership" fed, manned, fueled and armed at sea for any length of time. Find out where those support vessels are and sink/capture them. Strength vs weakness - something the US military never seems to remember.
          • Yes, that would work as well. With rare exceptions, captured pirates should not be released. Knocking out the logistics structure would help as well. Additionally, pick a port that pirates use to hold captured ships. Announce that in 48 hours,every ship in that port will be sunk unless all of the captured ships are returned to their rightful owners. Follow through. Move on to next such port. If at the first two ports all ships have moved before the 48 hours are up and no ships have been returned to rightful
      • Invade Iceland for operating pirate training camps [] (and for crimes against good taste)!

    • Piracy is and always will be an economic problem. Right now the pirates make more money easier than CEO's do in the USA.

      Think about it work for 6 months get one or two hundred thousand dollars. you get to shoot guns lots of water and if you get surrounded you surrender peacefully they feed you then release you no harm no foul, no courts.

      To stop Piracy you have to find where they come from and fix that economic mess. It is cheaper to pay them off so that is what is happening. Since governments take to lo

    • Ahh, the Civilization solution to barbarians: kill them all, take their gold, and burn down their stupid huts so that they can't easily come back and chase away your workers that are just trying to plant some corn.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Actually they would be the precipitate.. unless we ground them up first so they will dissolve into the sea water easier...

      I am NOT against grinding them all up.

    • I remember while growing up people were showing me pictures of hungry Somalian kids, telling me that kids in other countries are poor and should donate to them. Now let me think this through. Somalians are poor and hungry, but large amounts of "treasure" just outside their country cross every day. Hmmmm, I think I would do the fucking same thing if I was them.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Yup. They had no trouble sinking Osama, but some pirates are giving them headaches?
  • brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..... bbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


    Problem fixed.

    • A GAU-8A Avenger could probably be mounted on a commercial vessel and used very efficiently to give the pirates some rather large holes (splatter bonus!)
      The problem is: the ships would not be allowed in most marines. I am quite certain you can't simply float a ship with a large mounted gun in the harbor of Rotterdam for example, and I do not think most other countries would be welcoming you.
    • First, the pirates don't care if you shiver. Second, the climate where this piracy takes place is warm all year. Third, miniguns would, if anything, heat the surrounding air, albeit not in a way noticeable to most people in the area. Fourth, pirates *want* their timbers to be shivered anyway.

  • by j-b0y ( 449975 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:01AM (#36091150)

    Or give the pirates WoW subs. They'll be too busy with the rep grind to do anything else

  • by lennier1 ( 264730 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:05AM (#36091164)

    Where's the "nuke the site from orbit" button?

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Mothballed along with "just bring a battleship near shore and flatten all potential harbors"

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      MJWX: Server, sgt kokonface TKed me
      MJWX: Again...
      Sgt Kokonface: LOL PWND noob
      Dixin hoars: I can haz ur container ship.
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:06AM (#36091168)

    Rudyard Kipling would be pissed.

  • Arr? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    JckSparrow logged on.
    JSprrow12 logged off.
    JackSparroz logged on.
    JackSpzrrz logged on.
    JackSparrow323 says: "But why is the rum gone?"
    Jacksparrow1337 says:" HARRRRR"!

    Just a summary of how it'll go.

  • by harrytuttle777 ( 1720146 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:07AM (#36091178)

    I was with one of the first groups that 'went out to fight pirates' I was with the coast guard, traveling on a Dutch oiler is support of a bunch of navy and coast guard coast guard patrol craft that were supposed to take on the pirates. At one time we knew the location of 7 ships whose crew were actively being held hostage. What did we do? Absolutely NOTHING. At the time all the hostages were Indian of Filipino, and none of the vessels flew a U.S. flag. Also, were were always worried about invading Somali territorial waters (TTW).

    One of the problems was that we had three different services from two different countries operating under 3 different combined task forces. We also had 2 Navy lawyers on-board, where were there to make sure we didn't violate any sovereign territory (I kid you not).
    Every time someone wanted to like maybe do something, we had to run it by three different chains of command plus the JAG.

    If you want to fight pirates, fight pirates don't play games (MMO's). Fighting pirates (unlike fighting an imaginary war on terror) is something that the whole world can get behind. No-one would really care if we invade Somali TTW in order to kill pirates. This was about 5 years ago. At the time perhaps little bit of force could have made a huge difference. My understanding is that the Somalis have gotten a lot more organized in the time. But I really don't know. I no longer am in the service, but somehow I doubt that the U.S. military has (gotten more organized). With that said, I think the U.S. Navy could probably win a war with Somali pirates. It is just that the U.S. Navy is more worried about an incident where say a 20 people die trying to rescue the fillipino crew from a non u.s. flagged vessel. Heaven forbid some of the innocent crew members get killed in the rescue operation.

    Providing every crew member of a vessel going through the area with access to a rifle would probably go a long way to combat the problem.

    • We also had 2 Navy lawyers on-board

      Was one of them an ex-tomcat pilot, who picked up naval law because of his night blindness, and the other a slightly unconventional but seriously hot chick?

      • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

        I know that chick. She keeps telling me I need to get hooked up to an e-meter and need my body thetans purged.

      • No, one was pretending to be blind, and the other was named Cherith Cutestory [].

    • by Dails ( 1798748 )

      The legal issues are what make counter-piracy hard (there are other factors, of course). That's setting yourself up for failure, though, if you have to work through the rules of engagement for three different countries. The Navy works very hard to make sure its actions are in line with US and UN law, hence the JAG presence. It sucks from a warfighter's perspective, but the fact is that legal conduct goes a long way toward enabling what the Navy does. It's pretty easier to ignore the idiots that like to

    • Somalia is a failed state. Piracy is just a symptom of the underlying problem, not the problem itself. There can be no lasting security on the seas until there is security on the land - the pirates are able to project their attacks across thousands of kilometers of ocean stretching from Somalia to the Maldives, and it is very difficult to patrol and police such a large area. The potential profits from piracy versus the risk and investment are good, and as long as this continues then Somali entrepreneurs are
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      What do you think about the fact that counter-piracy forces killed more people than pirates themselves ? Before 2011 it could even be said that more hostages were killed by counter-piracy forces than Somali pirates.

      If we want peace on these coast, we need to have a police that really enforces every law. Some Somali pirate groups began as a vigilante group to prevent the dumping of toxic wastes (including nuclear wastes) off their coasts. (it is a little mafia business that is being judged in Italy by the
    • Simple solution. Kill all the lawyers.

      We all know that our forces are hamstrung by "rules of engagement", yada yada yada. I'm in complete agreement with you. All the naval forces in the area - China, Spain, US, UK, France, ALL of them should be inspecting all boats and ships. When they find a band of men aboard a ship or boat who are armed, take them into custody and sink their boat, incarcerate them for a few years while one or another court system deals with them, and let them go when they are old men

  • by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:07AM (#36091180)

    i really doubt teabagging and grieffing the pirates is gonne be the solution.

    Also, i agree with some earlier posters, just sink the damn pirates, the only modification i propose is leaving one pirate from every ship alone, to return home and tell the other would-be pirates of what happens to pirates. But you can just set that one adrift in a life-raft somewhere near the cost, the rest can be made to walk the plank after seeing their ship burned and sunk.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      i really doubt teabagging and grieffing the pirates is gonne be the solution.

      One word: strafing.

      Or splash damage.

  • "terrorists" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kirth ( 183 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:15AM (#36091222) Homepage

    Now "piss poor fishing men who had their fishing grounds ravaged by international fishing-fleets and turned pirates because of that" have become "terrorists".

  • drop some good loot.
  • There is no reason for this poorly equipped scum to be any sort of threat to civilian shipping. Just blow the pirates out of the water. Use normal warships. Use air surveillance, Use Q-ships. Put armed marines on civilian ships. In short, use all the standard naval strategies for commerce protection. Make it a death sentence to attack civilian traffic, and the problem will end.

    The only reason there is any sort of problem is the weird desire to treat the pirates gently.

    • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

      First, try making it a death sentence to drive Somali fishermen to starvation by overfishing Somali territorial waters, and make it a death sentence to dump toxic waste in their waters.

      If a people are being exterminated, they will fight.

  • by gadget junkie ( 618542 ) <> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:41AM (#36091324) Journal
    Funny that americans should ponder how to fight pirates.

    the American Navy and Marine Corp have their root in the fight against Barbary Coast pirates in the Mediterranean Sea, where the solution was to bring the fight on land to deny to pirates access to the sea lanes. In short: sink the ships, ANY of them, on the whole coast, and watch the somalis try to walk their way to the targets. What part of "to the coast of Tripoli" baffles you?
  • Maybe they'll have better luck fighting that kind of piracy.

  • Click the link and a pdf opens with a wonderful graphic on the front... a somewhat familiar graphic....

    So, they want to fight piracy by stealing the cover off of the pirates of the Caribbean movie?

    Fight pirates... with piracy!

  • Somali pirates are not terrorists.Terrorists are individuals or organizations that use force to advance a political agenda. The Somali pirates are only in it for the money. In fact, they are not even proper pirates. They rarely plunder the goods on the captured ships, usually they take just the salary money in ship's safes. They also mostly hold the ships and crews to ransom since shipping companies always pay as a matter of convenience. So, stop applying the label terrorists to everything.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:15AM (#36091438)
    A number of posters above are suggesting solutions which have, in the past, been shown not to work (in Moby Dick, despite having small arms on board, Ahab decides to outrun the pirates. Think for a while about why. But then Melville had actually crewed on a whaler.)

    The problem of the US Navy is that it is not set up to combat piracy economically. Its ships and munitions are too expensive to operate, and its systems are intended to detect tactical level threats, not identify which of a hundred similar fishing boats is in fact a pirate boat. It would probably be cheaper and more effective just to give the pirates reasonably well paid jobs, lack of which explains why they are involved in piracy in the first place.

    In this country, General Wade was once despatched with an army to deal with the rebellious, raiding Highlanders. When he got there he decided that the problem was poverty. He set them to building roads in the Highlands, bringing trade to the area. It worked. Later, the Caledonian Canal was built for much the same reason: it wasn't economic as a canal but it brought employment and opportunity. These are the examples that the US should be looking at.

  • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:28AM (#36091498) Homepage Journal

    Can we stop overusing the word terrorists? They're pirates and criminals, nothing more. Are they committing "a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State, and appears intended
    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    (iii) to affect the conduct of a government and by assassination or kidnapping."

    (according to the definition of "terrorism" defined by the US Congress)

    • By the definition that you quote, all violent crime is terrorism. Let's take robbery as an example, as piracy means "robbery on the high seas" when it doesn't mean "infringement of imaginary property rights". All robberies are "intended [...] to intimidate or coerce" members of "a civilian population" into giving up things of value to the criminal.
  • There's no need to waste time by playing games. Change the rules of engagement to allow anyone merely being approached by pirates (the gun-toting in small water craft type) to fire at will.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:46AM (#36091586)

    1.Do something like what they did in the second world and escort civilian ships through the (relatively small) danger zone. Any pirates that show up get to find out just what the massive deck gun or missile launcher of a navy destroyer does to a small pirate boat. Enough pirates will get back to Somalia and tell all their pirate buddies about it that many will think twice about taking the risk.

    Or another alternative would be to provide guns (or armed officers) on shops as they enter the danger zone and remove them when they leave. Any pirates that try to board get shot at with a large caliber rifle. I am not a Somali pirate but I suspect even Somali pirates dont like being shot at (and possibly seriously injured or killed).

    2.Apply international pressure on the government of Somalia to clean up its act and clear things out. Offer them incentives (foriegn aid, support to eliminate the warlords and guns or whatever else) if they are willing to clean up their country and stop the pirates.

    and 3.Offer direct aid to the Somali people (aid that comes with checks to make sure it ends up in the hands of the right people and not the warlords). Find things the Somali fishermen-turned-pirates can use to earn a legitimate living. If they have enough money to live off without piracy, they are much less likely to take the risk (especially given #1 above).

    These people arent terrorists, they have no political agenda, they are only in it because they feel like they have no other choice if they want to survive. So you attack in 3 ways, you increase the risks for the pirates (so that the risk vs reward equation changes), you offer them incentives to stop being pirates and you apply political pressure to the government to make it illegal (if it isn't already) and to enforce the law.

    If the law in Somalia doesn't make piracy illegal, it should be changed. And it should specify that any pirates who are caught have their ships impounded by the government and destroyed/sunk/on-sold.

    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      Hang on, that sounds like heavy handed government intervention. Surely Somali offers a model of a better solution []

    • by arcite ( 661011 )
      The pirates are an international operation. They receive financing and logistics from Europe, financing and support from all over East Africa, technological support from such things as Sat-phones as well as insiders. The pirates reinvest their ransom earnings into their ship and equipment, the local economy, and the region as a whole. Until Somalia has a semblance of a government, piracy will continue to prosper.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 )
      Apply international pressure on the government of Somalia to clean up its act and clear things out. Offer them incentives (foriegn aid, support to eliminate the warlords and guns or whatever else) if they are willing to clean up their country and stop the pirates.

      Does Somlia have a government? I thought that this was the problem.
    • by pehrs ( 690959 )

      1.Do something like what they did in the second world and escort civilian ships through the (relatively small) danger zone. Any pirates that show up get to find out just what the massive deck gun or missile launcher of a navy destroyer does to a small pirate boat. Enough pirates will get back to Somalia and tell all their pirate buddies about it that many will think twice about taking the risk.

      The zone is not very small. Pirates strike half way to India and down by madagaskar. We are talking about an area about half the size of the USA to monitor and convoy ships through. In addition, convoys are not very efficient against pirates. Ship-to-ship missiles and deck cannons are designed to hit ships, not small motorboats... which means you have to get close to stop the pirates. Not an easy task if you have a convoy of perhaps 30 ships to watch over and the pirates show up with 10 boats. And once the

  • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:08AM (#36091662) Homepage Journal

    They are having good success in recent times in dealing with these pirates.
    Piracy was a big problem for India, as many of the ships registered in entire south and south east asia have a large contingent of India crew. So every time hijacking took place, a bunch of Indian nationals got caught in the crossfire.
    To fix this problem, the Navy has started patrolling the international waters, and they have sunk quite a few pirate ships!

  • Didn't we used to hang them at sea with relatively few questions asked, way back when the country was just being founded? I'm all for going back to that. The current goody-two-shoes crap is only going to encourage them.
  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:22AM (#36091930) Homepage Journal
    you think its only a game but you're really piloting their unmanned drones for them....
  • All these shipping companies register their vessels where the taxes are low, and enforcement of regulations are weak and shipworthiness standards are abysmal to save costs. Then they want the whole world to pitch in and help them solve the problem? Gimme a break. Just announce that no ship registered outside will be protected by US Navy. And use the convoy system developed in WW-II and provide destroyer escort to convoys. The ship owners will save substantially in insurance premia and we can tax a portion o
  • Take a page from history. Merchant Raiders on anti piracy patrol - let them sink the pirates.
  • ...or they could just implement a proper convoy system

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter