But the mission — expected to begin operations next week — appears more of an attempt to sharpen the military focus against piracy rather than a signal of expanded offensives across one of the world's most crucial shipping lanes.
The force will carry no wider authority to strike at pirate vessels at sea or specific mandates to move against havens on shore — which some maritime experts believe is necessary to weaken the pirate gangs that have taken control of dozens of cargo vessels and an oil tanker.
Pentagon officials described it as a first step to create a dedicated international structure — combining military force, intelligence sharing and coordinated patrols — to battle piracy from lawless Somalia.
The sharp spike in pirate attacks caused a "situation where there were competing priorities" between counterterrorism missions in the region and protecting merchant ships, said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman in Washington. more..http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gB7YMEDuCwwY9ncDOtPAkEI4-H2wD95J3V000