Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gates of Tears in Fiction

During 2012, the U.S. and allied navies continued non-stop operations in the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin, and the Arabian sea.  Although Somali piracy precipitously declined, al Shabaab was on the run, and the pressure was turned up on AQAP, ongoing operational requirements drove more record length U.S. Navy deployments in the area.  Many of these operations were well known but some remained outside of the public view.  Late last year, I reviewed Camille Pecastaing's interesting expose on the geostrategic challenges in and around the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.  This year, I was drawn to another book about the same region.

I'm not normally a big fiction reader, but if like me, you can only cram in a bit of escapist reading every now and then, next year make it Claude Berube's debut novel, The Aden Effect.  The book combines a mix of Beltway intrigue, clever law enforcement work, and high seas action into a suprisingly prescient yarn. Amongst the various plotlines of ambassadors under attack by terrorists, duplicitous politicians, and pirates run amok, one passage in particular could have been ripped straight out of recent congressional hearings: "If they're so concerned though, why is the embassy understaffed?... No spooks. No regional security officer --how can an embassy operate without an RSO?-- only half the number of Marines you'd expect, and no other military staff at all."

For those more versed in naval and counterterrorism operations who like to nit-pick operational details (like me), I'd suggest you follow Claude's admonishment in the post-script to "suspend some disbelief" and just enjoy a good read.  Happy New Year.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

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