Unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, are increasingly playing a more important role in surveillance activities to guard shipping traffic against attacks by ocean terrorists, and many of them have been launched in the past by a US forces contingent operating out of the Seychelles, where the government has granted them a base.
New reports suggest that some of these drones may in the future also move closer to the Somali territorial waters and shores, and Djibouti, already home to a naval and air assets by the coalition forces, has been named as a possible future base.
The thinking about the mandate of the naval coalition is ever so slightly changing, and a more robust forward defense, like the imposition of a naval blockade just outside Somali waters, is one option. However, there has also been growing speculation about arming aerial assets to not just survey but also defend cargo ships from the air against attacks, after spotting motherships and skiffs near the shipping routes or when leaving Somali territorial waters with intent.
Information from the Seychelles indicates that the number of drones has been reduced from previously 5 to now only 3, thought enough to patrol the skies over the Seychelles waters, while the remaining two may now already operate out of Djibouti with added responsibilities to also provide intelligence about ground movement of the various militant Islamic militias, which continue to control large swathes of territory.
Meanwhile, Seychelles President James Michel has asked for more resources to be availed to the country by friendly member nations of the naval coalition, to increase training and add more material assets to patrol the national waters and secure the shipping lanes leading through the economic exclusion zone. More funding was also requested to add more facilities in prisons, where ocean terrorists on trial are on remand and after conviction are incarcerated, as well as technical assistance in the public prosecution department and the judiciary.