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February 22, 2006

Who Runs the Ports - the Dubai Ports World Kerfuffle.

I've not trumpeted much about this, except that I have *not* subscribed to much of the near-hysteria (fueled by genuine concern) over this.

Why? Perhaps because I've worked in the homeland defense business and have a little better understanding than most of how it all works. But not enough that I'm willing to throw it out there like an expert.

Plenty of politicians doing that already. And Pundits. And Bloggers. And Denizens.

So, I've made my quiet comments about how this isn't new - though the media wants you to think it is. And how I don't think it's a problem of the proportions it's being blown into.

And I recognize that it is perhaps bad politics, but that doesn't mean that it is a bad decision. Lots of other people with far better quals than I are going to chew that over.

I'm just going to publish an email.

Via Pete S., from an email list I belong to, comes this from a Coastie who serves in New Orleans.

Some perspective, perhaps.

I know what you are saying and agree, but did you notice how readily you repeated the headlines and used terms that indicate the "running of a port" vice the running of a single port facility?

Besides considering the number of acres the P&O operates in New Orleans here is perhaps a better comparison. Between the Head of Passes and Baton Rouge's upper bridge (the head of most ocean going navigation) the two banks of the river measure over 440 miles in length and are dense with vessel handling facilities.

The P&O manages approximately 2,000 linear feet on the East bank. Of the approximately 300 Coast Guard uniformed personnel , 40 member harbor police, 90 member parish sheriff's department, and several hundred security guards that serve the area the P&O will probably be responsible for staffing 3 physical positions with armed guards.

Of course the P&O already provides these armed American citizens, they have been running the container facility for years. What has changed is the P&Os controlling interest stockholder? If this deal goes through the same guys who are on guard tonight will be there the night after the deal is signed. But some weeks later they may have more lights, communications gear, and cameras since the "new' P&O" has been purchased by a company willing to put money into the Coast Guard approved security plan.

The old P&O stockholders balked at the security costs of doing business in post 9/11 America. Meanwhile I am still on duty along with the rest of the Coast Guard, if someone else is "in charge of port security" we haven't been told and know of no relief coming.

Note - the ports are already being run by foreigners. Of a nation that a Prime Minister famously observed, "...had no permanent friends, only permanent interests."

Certainly the change in ownership of a strategic asset merits scrutiny and discussion. But it helps if you understand the problem before you pronounce on the problem. And by that I refer to the politicians and Big Pundits. We little people, we're supposed to raise our voices in question.

But as I noted before, and still hold: This isn't a huge catastrophe. Unless you think the Department of Homeland Defense and the Coast Guard aren't up to their jobs.

Which is a completely different issue that you allow *this* issue to cloud.

That is all. We return you to your original, supine positions.

John | Permalink | Comments (14) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Neptunus Lex links with: Hysteria and politics…
» Brown Hound links with: Coast Guard Guidance on the Purchase of P&O.
» Sister Toldjah links with: The UAE port deal: I support it
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: That port thing
» basil's blog links with: Picnic 2006-02-23