U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday that three Somali pirates who were killed by the Navy's Seals to end a hostage crisis were "untrained" teenagers.
Addressing an audience at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia, Gates said that the slain pirates, aged at between 17 to 19, were heavily armed but inexperienced.
They were shot dead on Sunday at the end of a five-day standoff with the U.S. military after they attacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship about 400 kilometers away from Somali and held an American captain as hostage.
"As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids," Gates told students and faculty members.
He also noted that there is no purely military solution to piracy in the region.
The discussion on anti-privacy did not halt with the successful rescue of the captain, as President Barack Obama vowed to combat the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia on Monday.
"We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region," he said. "To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes."
In the meantime, the U.S. Navy urged the country's shipping industry to strengthen security of their boats by deploying more armed guards and adopt more preventive measures.