By Rob Morgan
I realise that for most SWA Members, The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis is far from required reading. Though since the next serious naval wars are almost certainly going to start in the south-eastern quadrant of Asia, perhaps it should be! These comments are not specifically solo-oriented, but with thought may provide a scenario or two.
The Summer issue (No.2) of Volume XVII, for example, contains an interesting article by Admiral Akimoto of Japan’s Maritime Self- Defense Force, entitled “The Threat of Maritime Terrorism and Responses.” In 20 pages, Akimoto provides the modern naval wargamer with a score of interesting scenarios, some of which he proclaims will happen soon.
Outside SE Asia, he suggests that although the IRA, ETA and Cuban exiles probably have the capability to undertake maritime terrorism, in-zone the Moros and Abu Sayyaf groups in the Philippines, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, Malaysia’s KMM, and the OPM and GAM of Indonesia have the intent, and the capability!
True of the Tamils who carried out a very successful naval attack a few years ago. Iit reached the pages of The Times, and the article suggests that GAM have boarded two tankers in the past three years, and are acquiring the skills to use them as weapons. Four , arguably five, major attacks at sea have taken place since 2000, including that on USS Cole.
Akimoto’s fascinating study considers why so many tugs are disappearing in that corner of Asia: four in 2000, five the following year, 11 in 2002, 19 in 2003, and far more since. The number of barges, including empty barges, going missing is enormous, not all for Chinese scrap, he presumes.
He suggests that what will happen at some stage is that terrorists will use a tug or tugs to capture and tow a crude oil tanker in order to plunge it into a port and devastate the area. Or possibly place mines in barges and link them to a tanker, even place WMDs in a cargo container. The admiral’s concept of the response of Asian navies and his description of the tri-navy Operation Malsindo which started back in 2004, is most interesting.
So, within these pages you’ll find much to think about, especially if you prefer to use modern light naval units in wargames.