Counter Smuggling and Piracy Exercise Underway
The U.S. Navy and maritime forces from 10 Indo-Pacific partner nations began the 18th Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise in Singapore on August 19.
The goal of the SEACAT exercise is to bring together regional partner nations to engage in "real world, real time" training designed to enhance partner nation ability to communicate, coordinate and counter illegal fishing, smuggling and piracy.
Participating nations include Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.
The exercise emphasizes realistic training scenarios where participants will practice identifying, tracking and boarding of vessels. A maritime operations center in Singapore serves as a centralized hub for crisis coordination and information sharing in the tracking of vessels of interests throughout the exercise. Liaison officers will receive simulated reports of suspect vessels in the straits of Singapore and Malacca, the Andaman Sea or the South China Sea. After sharing information from all available sources such as Singapore's Information Fusion Centre and the Philippines' National Coast Watch Center, a response plan utilizing aircraft and ships from participating navies and coast guards will be implemented to investigate and conduct on-scene boardings as necessary.
In all, SEACAT includes 14 ships and more than 400 personnel. U.S. Navy units include the staff of Destroyer Squadron 7; P-8 Poseidon aircraft assigned to Task Force 72 and personnel from Task Force 73. Participants from the U.S. Coast Guard include Maritime Security Response Team West (MSRT) and Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team (PACTACLET). The U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) will conduct workshops and seminars on visit, board, search and seizure techniques in Manila, Philippines, addressing a wide-range of topics to include human trafficking, drugs and weapons smuggling and illegal fishing.
SEACAT, which began in 2002 under the name "Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism," was renamed in 2012 to expand the scope of training.