“Southeast Asian partners enhancing trilateral maritime patrols” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Law Breakers frequently attempt to exploit divisions of jurisdiction. How to deal with this? The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum contributor Gusty Da Costa reports from Indonesia (reproduced in full below),

IMAGE CREDIT: INDONESIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY

The launch about five years ago of maritime patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas involving the armed forces of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have corresponded with a sharp drop in piracy and terrorism, officials and analysts said. The three nations plan to enhance the patrols with improved surveillance, intelligence and communication to boost security and economic stability.

The INDOMALPHI patrols, a moniker that combines the names of the partner nations, began in 2017 as a result of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) signed a year earlier by the three governments. Security challenges are “especially daunting” in the seas, where the three nations’ maritime borders converge in an area “with a complex political history and a long legacy of illicit maritime activity,” according to Stable Seas, a nonprofit research initiative.

“The main objective is to enhance security in the Sulu and Sulawesi [Celebes] seas,” Indonesian Army Col. Kurniawan Firmizi, a senior official at the Indonesian Defense Ministry, told FORUM. “A high level of protection with all parties can be beneficial. It can increase the economy, facilitate traffic flows between countries adjacent to the Sulu Sea area, and improve border security and international cooperation. The goal is to secure the Sulu Sea and maritime border waters for all three countries.”

Since their launch, the INDOMALPHI patrols have deterred and defended against attacks on vessels at sea by pirates and violent extremist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, Kurniawan said. According to Indonesia’s Defense Ministry, known as Kemhan, there were no reports of piracy for ransom in the patrolled waters in 2021. As recently as 2017, there were 99 reports of piracy and armed robbery in the area, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.

Four categories of patrol enhancements were announced at the TCA Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late March 2022, Kemhan reported. They are: optimizing communication by deploying a liaison officer from each partner nation to each country’s maritime command center; conducting trilateral maritime exercises; adopting an intelligence-led approach to surveillance operations; and improving the TCA structure, communication and coordination to increase partners’ participation and commitment. (Pictured, from left: Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Malaysian Senior Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Philippine National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attend the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in March 2022.)

“There has been an increase in surveillance technology, including drones and satellite systems,” Kurniawan said.

The INDOMALPHI patrols demonstrate the expansive benefits of multilateralism, Connie Rahakundini Bakrie, a defense analyst and the author of “Defending Indonesia,” told FORUM.

“These countries will undoubtedly increase their cooperation with other regions, such as Europe, by securing their maritime areas,” she said. “The reason is that trading traffic will be smoother since it is safe, so the risk-cost will be lower.”

She recommended two additional improvements: increase patrol frequency in the Sulu Sea; and supplement patrols with “additional aircraft such as reconnaissance aircraft, close air support or attack aircraft, commandos from helicopters, etc.”

“Indonesia spearheading regional cooperation in South China Sea” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Indonesian Maritime Security Agency vessel KN Tanjung Datu, left, sails alongside U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton during joint exercises in the Singapore Strait in August 2019. IMAGE CREDIT: PO1 LEVI READ, USCG

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports,

Indonesia is reaching out to its South China Sea neighbors to foster harmony on maritime sovereignty issues and enhance cooperation among regional coast guards, analysts say. The nation engaged closely with Vietnam in late 2021 and plans to add five countries to the collaborative effort in 2022.

It appears Indonesia is working with its SE Asian neighbors to resolve their bilateral maritime territorial disputes based on UNCLOS and develop multi-lateral agreement.

This would allow the ASEAN nations to present a united front, to push back against China’s expansive claims. It might even lead to something like my proposed Combined Maritime Security Task Force.

Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro and Japan Coast Guard Patrol Vessel Large Aso, transit together in formation during a maritime engagement in the East China Sea Aug. 25, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard members aboard the Munro deployed to the Western Pacific Ocean to strengthen alliances and partnerships and improve maritime governance and security in the region. (Photo courtesy of Japan Coast Guard)

The Whitehouse has issued a new Indo-Pacific Strategy, and it specifically mentions the US Coast Guard.

The document calls out China for its aggressive behavior,

This intensifying American focus is due in part to the fact that the Indo-Pacific faces mounting challenges, particularly from the PRC. The PRC is combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might as it pursues a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and seeks to become the world’s most influential power. The PRC’s coercion and aggression spans the globe, but it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific. From the economic coercion of Australia to the conflict along the Line of Actual Control with India to the growing pressure on Taiwan and bullying of neighbors in the East and South China Seas, our allies and partners in the region bear much of the cost of the PRC’s harmful behavior. In the process, the PRC is also undermining human rights and international law, including freedom of navigation, as well as other principles that have brought stability and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific.

It recognizes the value and values of our allies and partners,

For centuries, the United States and much of the world have viewed Asia too narrowly—as an arena of geopolitical competition. Today, Indo-Pacific nations are helping to define the very nature of the international order, and U.S. allies and partners around the world have a stake in its outcomes. Our approach, therefore, draws from and aligns with those of our closest friends. Like Japan, we believe that a successful Indo-Pacific vision must advance freedom and openness and offer “autonomy and options.” We support a strong India as a partner in this positive regional vision. Like Australia, we seek to maintain stability and reject coercive exercises of power. Like the ROK, we aim to promote regional security through capacity-building. Like ASEAN, we see Southeast Asia as central to the regional architecture. Like New Zealand and the United Kingdom, we seek to build resilience in the regional rules-based order. Like France, we recognize the strategic value of an increasing regional role for the European Union (EU). Much like the approach the EU has announced in its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, American strategy will be principled, long-term, and anchored in democratic resilience.

It calls for action in five areas:

  1. ADVANCE A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC
  2. BUILD CONNECTIONS WITHIN AND BEYOND THE REGION
  3. DRIVE REGIONAL PROSPERITY
  4. BOLSTER INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY
  5. BUILD REGIONAL RESILIENCE TO TRANSNATIONAL THREATS

There is mention of the Coast Guard is in the section “BOLSTER INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY” on page 13.

We will also innovate to meet civilian security challenges, expanding U.S. Coast Guard presence, training, and advising to bolster our partners’ capabilities. We will cooperate to address and prevent terrorism and violent extremism, including by identifying and monitoring foreign fighters traveling to the region, formulating options to mitigate online radicalization, and encouraging counterterrorism cooperation within the Indo-Pacific. And we will strengthen collective regional capabilities to prepare for and respond to environmental and natural disasters; natural, accidental, or deliberate biological threats; and the trafficking of weapons, drugs, and people. We will improve cybersecurity in the region, including the ability of our partners to protect against, recover from, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

Coast Guard roles presumably extend beyond interdiction and fisheries to include assistance with intelligence, port security, and maritime industry cybersecurity.

The strategy refers to ten lines of effort that are to be pursued in the next 12 to 24 months. The first is “Drive New Resources to the Indo-Pacific” (p.15),

Building shared capacity requires the United States to make new regional investments. We will open new embassies and consulates, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and increase our strength in existing ones, intensifying our climate, health, security, and development work. We will expand U.S. Coast Guard presence and cooperation in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific Islands, with a focus on advising, training, deployment, and capacity-building. We will refocus security assistance on the Indo-Pacific, including to build maritime capacity and maritime-domain awareness.

Sounds like this may include Coast Guard attachés attached to diplomatic staffs and possibly some new basing.

There is a second line of effort that will undoubtably involve the Coast Guard, “Partner to Build Resilience in the Pacific Islands” (p.17),

The United States will work with partners to establish a multilateral strategic grouping that supports Pacific Island countries as they build their capacity and resilience as secure, independent actors. Together, we will build climate resilience through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; coordinate to meet the Pacific’s infrastructure gaps, especially on information and communications technology; facilitate transportation; and cooperate to improve maritime security to safeguard fisheries, build maritime-domain awareness, and improve training and advising. We will also prioritize finalization of the Compact of Free Association agreements with the Freely Associated States.

A Maritime Executive post, New U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy Singles Out China’s “Coercion”, notes,

In the security arena, the new strategy reiterates that the United States has maintained “a strong and consistent defence presence necessary to support regional peace, security, stability, and prosperity”, pointing to the South China Sea and the East China Sea as a priority. However, it is interesting that while the document underscores the importance of freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific, not a single paragraph mentions the US Freedom of Navigation Operations Program (FONOPS) carried out by the US Navy, which has stirred controversy. Conversely, the strategy emphasises the importance of the Coast Guard to lead maritime security cooperation in the region, in “advising, training, deployment, and capacity-building … including to build maritime capacity and maritime-domain awareness”. Indeed, in 2021, the US Coast Guard announced a joint maritime training centre with the Indonesian Coast Guard in Batam.

The emphasis on coast guard cooperation can be seen as a positive gesture since it will be less provocative and sensitive compared to a military presence in the region. And more importantly, coast guard operations in Southeast Asia are very much required to tackle maritime security threats such as illegal fishing.

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention. 

“Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment” –News Release

Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) crewmember Petty Officer 2nd Class Kurt Chlebek, a boatswains mate, is greeted by his dog after Munro returned to their homeport in Alameda, California, Oct. 20, 2021, following a 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission deployment. Munro’s crew departed Alameda in July for a Western Pacific patrol and operated in support of United States Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the region. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matt Masaschi.

Wrap-up of USCGC Munro’s recent deployment to the Western Pacific.

united states coast guard

News Release

Oct. 20, 2021
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment

Photo of U.S. and Japan Coast Guard vessels
Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution versions.

Alameda, Calif. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) and crew returned to their Alameda homeport Wednesday following a 102-day, 22,000-nautical-mile deployment to the Western Pacific.

Munro departed Alameda in July to the Western Pacific to operate under the tactical control of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Munro’s deployment demonstrated the Coast Guard’s unique authorities in support of the Indo-Pacific command,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Joint operations help strengthen our partnerships through search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and other areas of mutual interest which preserve a stable and secure global maritime environment.”

Munro’s crew executed numerous cooperative engagements, professional exchanges and capacity building efforts with naval allies and partners, including the Japan Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic ResourcesRoyal Australian Navy, and Indonesia Maritime Security Agency.

“Our relationships in the Western Pacific are stronger today, and our partners are unified in their commitment to security,” said Capt. Blake Novak, commanding officer of Munro. “It was an incredible opportunity for our crew to participate alongside allies, sharing search and rescue and law enforcement concepts to promote peace, prosperity, and the sovereign rights of all nations.”

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft, and deployable specialized forces.

Munro is one of four 418-foot national security cutters homeported in Alameda. National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

Photos from the Munro’s deployment are available here.

“U.S. Coast Guard cutter trains with Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency” –News Release

Members onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro man the rails during a maritime engagement with the Indonesia Maritime Safety Agency in the Singapore Straight, Sept. 20, 2021. Coast Guard Cutter Munro is currently deployed to the Western Pacific to strengthen alliances and partnerships, and improve maritime governance and security in the region. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin G. Rivas)

Below is a Pacific Area News release, more of USCGC Munro’s adventures in the Western Pacific. You can also see the four accompanying photos here.

Indonesia has a unique organization that includes two coast guard like institutions,

The relationship between the two agencies seems to have been in flux. The Indonesian Navy also has a number of patrol boats that would correspond to US Coast Guard patrol boats. The Indonesian Navy is also constructing Offshore Patrol Vessels comparable to large Coast Guard Cutters.

The Indonesian ship seen in the photographs is KN Dana (323), a 80 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel, one of a class of three Damen designed vessels of the Bakamla. There is also a larger 110 meter OPV, all are relatively new.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
September 21, 2021
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Office: (510) 437-3375
D11-DG-M-PACAREA-PA@uscg.mil
Pacific Area online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard cutter trains with Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency

U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Coast Guard U.S. Coast Guard Captain Novak waves to Indonesian Coast Guard vessel U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Coast Guard

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) conducted operations and exercises with the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency and coast guard, the Badan Keamanan Laut (known as BAKAMLA), September 20, in the Singapore Strait.

 Together, the crews participated in ship-to-ship communications drills, multi-unit maneuvering and maritime domain awareness while at sea.

 “These maritime exercises with our Indonesian partners forge a stronger relationship, allowing our respective crews to work together and build on each others’ strengths,” said Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Blake Novak. “Strengthening our alliances and partnerships fosters our unified commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and promotes peace, security, prosperity and the sovereign rights of all nations.”

 The U.S. Coast Guard partnership with Indonesia continues to grow stronger. In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducted engagements with BAKAMLA as part of the Western Pacific deployment, including a port call in Batam and an exercise in the Riau Islands Province. The Stratton also participated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training with the Indonesian Navy in 2019.

Munro, a 418-foot national security cutter, departed its home port of Alameda, California, in July for a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific. Operating under the tactical control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, the cutter and crew are engaging in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations and patrolling and conducting operations as directed. National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is proud to operate with the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency and coast guard to enhance capabilities, strengthen maritime governance, security and promote rules-based international order,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Strengthening partnerships contributes to the region’s maritime common good in search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and other areas of mutual interest.” 

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the USCG is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft, and deployable specialized forces.

More photos from Munro’s Western Pacific deployment are available here. Subscribe here to receive notifications when new photos are added.

                                

“Indonesia Escorts Seized Tankers to Dock for Investigation” –gCaptain

Iranian-flagged crude oil tanker MT Horse is escorted to Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia January 26, 2021. Indonesian Coast Guard (BAKAMLA)/Indonesian Navy (TNI AL)/Handout via REUTERS

Something interesting happening in Indonesia. gCaptain reports,

“Wisnu told Reuters on Monday that the ships were “caught red-handed” transferring oil from MT Horse to MT Freya and that there was an oil spill around the receiving tanker.”

New Addition to “Recommended Blogs” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) sales alongside the Indian coast guard ships Abheed and Shaurya (16) Aug. 23, 2019, while transiting in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Chennai, India. The Stratton is participating in a professional exchange with the Indian coast guard that includes operational exercises at sea and on shore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Esterly)

I have made an addition to my “Recommended Blogs” page (which is also my daily reading list) that you may find interesting, the Indo-Pacific Defense Forum.

Below I have duplicated the self description from their “About Us” page. The page also includes contact information not duplicated here.

In addition to English, this site is also published in Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, and Japanese.

Not all the content is Coast Guard related, but it seems much of it is.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.


About Us

IPDefenseForum.com is the online version of Indo Pacific Defense Forum magazine and is sponsored by the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

Our Mission

Indo-Pacific Defense Forum is a professional military magazine published quarterly by the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command to provide an international forum for military personnel of the Indo-Pacific areas. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the policies or points of view of this command or any other agency of the United States government. All articles are written by IPD Forum staff unless otherwise noted.

The site features articles from the IPD Forum magazine staff as well as news from across the region and analysis, interviews and commentary by paid IPDefenseForum.com correspondents and contributors.

The Secretary of Defense has determined that publication of this magazine is necessary for conducting public business as required of the Department of Defense by law.

Indonesia Uses Google to Stop Fish Pirates

The Indonesian Navy and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries blow up an illegal fishing vessel near Tanjung Batumandi, Pangandaran, West Java, on March 14, 2016. Photo credit: REUTERS/Adeng Bustomi/Antara Foto

gCaptain reports Indonesia has had great success in using Google to crack down on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“After hunting down violators and blowing up their boats in public spectacles, Pudjiastuti’s approach has become more sophisticated. In a global first, the minister has teamed up with Google to use satellites to spot illegal fishermen from space. It’s paying off: Indonesia’s fish stocks have more than doubled in two years, and an industry plundered by foreigners for decades is once again contributing to economic growth, which Widodo has pledged to boost to 7 percent.

“See Also: Scientists Use AIS Data to Map Global Fishing Activity in Extraordinary Detail

“In a sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands, the potential is vast. While fishing currently accounts for just 2.6 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product, that portion has grown about 40 percent since Pudjiastuti started her role. At that time, there were some 10,000 foreign vessels fishing illegally in Indonesia’s territory. She says they’re now all but gone.

Here is an earlier post on the Google system.

Indonesian Bomb Plot?

murrahfederalbuildinginjuriesbyfloor

Photo: Floor-by-floor breakdown of the injuries/deaths in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building from the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Red triangles indicates a fatality, a yellow one indicates a victim was admitted. Author: Sue Mallonee at Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service

gCaptain is reporting that Indonesian authorities on the resort island of Bali have detained a ship from Malaysia carrying around 30 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which police believe may have been intended for making bombs.

Ammonium nitrate was, you may recall, a primary igrediant in the truck bomb used in the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

“…the bombing destroyed one-third of the building, killed 168 people, and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.”

Total weight of the explosives in that case was perhaps 7.000 pounds or less.

There is no indication that the ship itself was intended to be used as a bomb delivery system.

Indonesia Attempts to use Big Data to Manage Fisheries

The Jakarta Post reports that the Indonesian government will attempt to use the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to manage their fisheries.

They plan to exploit an open source system called “Global Fishing Watch,” a partnership between SkyTruth, Oceana and Google. There are certainly limitations on the data available from this system. AIS can be turned off or spoofed, but the Global Fishing Watch website has some answers for these limitation, and careful tracking can to some extent mitigate the problems.

More here (pdf).