The U.S. Navy continues to rely on international partnerships, unified maritime standards and “best management practices” to combat piracy off the coast of Africa.
The British Merchant Navy has its own counterpiracy strategy. It involves decade-old pop hits by a former “X Factor” judge and soft-drink spokeswoman.
According to a Metro (UK) report quoting a Merchant Navy officer, British commercial vessels moving though the region blast Britney Spears hits toward any potential threats — a tactic that’s proved “so effective, the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns.”
Need to thwart a pirate attack and only have limited room on your iPod? The officer suggests “Baby One More Time” and “Oops! I Did It Again” as must-have tunes.
Music-as-weaponry didn’t begin with blaring Britney songs at would-be hijackers — the BBC reported on the use of heavy metal and children’s songs to break the will of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, for example.
The U.S. military famously deployed songs in late 1989 during a standoff with former Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega, who was holed up in the Vatican Embassy. While the use of heavy metal got the most attention in media reports, a U.S. Southern Command playlist posted at The George Washington University’s National Security Archive website shows the creativity of psy ops folks, with selections ranging from the direct (“Nowhere to Run” by Martha and the Vandelas) to the subtle (“Nowhere Man” by The Beatles) to the literal (Van Halen’s “Panama”) to the just plain ridiculous (“Hangin’ Tough” by New Kids on the Block).