U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense General James Mattis offered increased US-ASEAN cooperation to build maritime domain awareness to address comment threats to regional security at the East Asia Summit and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus in late 2017. In support of this commitment, the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies hosted a four-day workshop on “Building Maritime Shared Awareness in Southeast Asia” in Bangkok, Thailand, May 14-17.

The more than 51 participants came from 12 countries plus ASEAN nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). Attendees included senior policy makers, security practitioners, and subject matter experts. Several observers from the ASEAN Secretariat, the United States, and India also attended the workshop.

Workshop academic lead Professor Kerry Lynn Nankivell stated that “this workshop invited participates to develop recommendations for information sharing protocols and tools to support developing information sharing agreements between ASEAN member states.  These recommendations may form the basis for US support to regional policies and operational goals, through engagement with established ASEAN forums.”

Subject matter experts attending the workshop reported on: contemporary developments in information-sharing and coordinated operations; recently develop tools and lessons learned; and participated in several tabletop exercises.

“This workshop is about maritime shared awareness, which is a capability that the region needs. As for Brunei, we very much welcome this initiative from the U.S. Government, we think it’s a very useful workshop,” said Haji Adi Ihram Mahmud, Director, Directorate of Defence Policy, Brunei Ministry of Defense. “[It] is a good example of how important the U.S.-ASEAN relations are and how excellent the state of cooperation and relationships are with U.S. and ASEAN.”

As a result of this workshop, participants:

  • Agreed on information sharing protocols for regional information sharing agreements in development among ASEAN member states, including suitable tools for operationalization;
  • Identified opportunities to leverage existing operations, exercises and training support expanded regional MDA; and,
  • Identified available tools to build regional MDA suited to all stakeholders’ needs and organizational structures in support of an agreed information sharing protocol. Introduce and utilize the Non-Classified Enclave (NCE) and compatible applications to stimulate discussion on optimal protocol and supporting requirements.

 “The workshop has validated many of the points that were debated in previous ones held in Hawaii.” stated Jesse Pascasio, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications for the Philippines National Coast Watch Council Secretariat. “First and foremost there is a behavior aspect of information sharing that is a cornerstone for any successful information sharing arrangement such as the one we have in Singapore, and the one shown to us by Thai (Maritime Enforcement Coordination Center).

He further stated that “the act of this successful information sharing that was conducted in these organizations was built because of the relationships of the liaison officers, members of different agencies and between officials of different countries. I think that is a key driver for further discussion that enables successful information sharing.”  

This was the fourth in a series of workshop on Maritime Shared Awareness hosted by DKI APCSS.  This iteration focused on advancing regional efforts to build a Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP) for Southeast Asia.

According to DKI APCSS Director Pete Gumataotao “This workshop series supports the US government’s enduring commitment to increase U.S. – ASEAN maritime cooperation to build maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. Charting the way forward in building shared maritime domain awareness requires a multilateral effort with persistent dialogue, transparency and cooperation. Through this collaborative effort in MSA Workshop 4, Southeast Asian partners have started to identify a viable framework for increasing maritime shared awareness.  DKI APCSS is honored to be part of this long-term effort.”

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The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies is a Department of Defense institute that addresses regional and global security issues. Military and civilian representatives, most from the United States and Asia-Pacific nations, participate in a comprehensive program of executive education, professional exchanges and outreach events, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The Center supports U.S. Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region. DKI APCSS’ mission is to build capacities and communities of interest by educating, connecting and empowering security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security. It is one of the Department of Defense’s five regional security studies centers.

Since opening in 1995, more than 12,273 alumni representing over 135 countries and territories have attended DKI APCSS courses and workshops.

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