In a 20 November 2008 editorial titled "Piracy Problem," the Los Angeles Times noted: "The U.S. Navy said shipping companies should do more to protect their vessels, and the ship owners said governments should guard the high seas." While Navy leadership engages in finger-pointing with the shipping companies, a golden opportunity is passing us by. Let's be honest: The Navy looks stupid in its most recent actions vis-a-vis the piracy occurring off Somalia.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and other navies and entities are realigning their positions because of the perception that the U.S. Navy has become irrelevant. And this is not only off the Horn of Africa—which accounts for less than a third of the piracy in the world—but also in the Strait of Malacca and elsewhere.
There are always seemingly logical reasons for inaction. But logical reasons often have little to do with perceptions. At the moment, the predominant perception of our Navy is a negative one. This is not good, especially given the advent of a new administration and the search for budget savings that is likely to come.