23 April 2008

Malacca News Shows Potential of Maritime Strategy

There was a good news story out of Malaysia a couple of weeks ago that illustrates the potential of America's new Maritime Strategy. According to the deputy chief of the Malaysian Air Force, the Strait of Malacca was piracy free last year.

While the ink on our strategy is still wet, the document formalizes a number initiatives that have been ongoing in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard for years, like fostering regional security partnerships and cooperation, direct humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and training of regional militaries for joint and combined operations to remedy local problems.

Though I know of no American role in the “Eye in the Sky” operation or patrols in the strait, the sea services have been providing training on how to carry out these type of operations for over a decade through exercises like CARAT, MALABAR and others. So, as strike groups transit through Southeast Asia and Oceania on their way to the Indian Ocean, they frequently disperse to train and assist local countries with maritime interests.

In a typical exercise, one or more American ships will join up with ships from a partner nation and embark liaison officers to observe, learn about or even oversee operations. Then the combined group will spend a few hours or days using aircraft, ships and submarines to search above, on and below the water in the exercise area and practice deterrence or conduct boardings.

The goal is not only to develop an awareness of who’s out there, but also to practice the planning, logistics, communication and prioritization skills necessary to execute a given mission. It's also hoped that after interacting with the militaries of other nations, all the participants will develop a better understanding of regional interests, concerns and goals.

And apparently, it’s working.

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