Weekly Piracy Review: International Cooperation
October 5, 2012 Leave a comment
This week the 8th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting convened in New Delhi. Defense Minister A.K. Antony asserted India’s commitment to bolstering security against a myriad of threats in the Indian Ocean, and specifically addressed the continued need for anti-piracy efforts. Antony emphasized the need for cooperation among countries to implement international laws in the region in order to combat the ever-changing effects of problems such as maritime piracy.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began a maritime forum in Manila on Wednesday, and is scheduled to run through today. Topics for discussion included maritime security and piracy. In addition to discussion regarding territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea, the members are likely considering an initiative proposed by the Philippines to facilitate information exchange and sharing among nations. The hope is that this exchange will provide timely information to allow law enforcement agencies to effectively combat security threats such as piracy.
The Indian government authorized training of Navy Special Forces to deploy Marine Commando squads on merchant ships. These squads will be authorized to carry long-range weapons, and will travel with ships in the Indian Ocean extending to the sea around Somalia in an effort to alleviate piracy concerns. Currently merchant ships in the area rely on private security companies to prevent successful piracy efforts in taking hostages and seizing cargo. So far the reliance on private security guards has been effective, as no ship with armed guards has been successfully hijacked. This situation is by no means perfect, as the level of training and experience of these private guards is widely varied, and can lead to uncertainty and nervousness when the guards are thrust into a hostile situation. As India begins to allow trained military on-board merchant vessels it shall be seen whether this will be an effective approach.