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Cooperative Maritime Forces Operations in ASPAC

MAST Asia hosts conference session discussing importance of cooperation in addressing ASPAC security threats

On Monday afternoon of the first day of MAST Asia, this session reunited vice admirals and rear admirals from Japan, the US, France, Australia and the UK to discuss how international cooperation in the Asia Pacific region can contribute to addressing the increasing security challenges in the region.

All keynote speakers agreed on the main security threats to the region, namely: increasing non-traditional threats (such as illegal drug smuggling, piracy, etc), growing pressure from the consequences of environmental change, the mounting tensions in the East China Sea (ECS) and the South China Sea (SCS) and the ballistic missile tests carried out by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

For them, cooperation amongst allies in the region is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and ‘miscalculations’ that could lead to an escalation of tensions and potentially lead to conflict. Countries must continue to engage in their annual exercises as well as develop and/or strengthen information sharing platforms to ensure that everyone receives the key information at the right time to warrant an appropriate response. One of the speakers highlighted how important these elements were for the development of interoperability, referring to the response to the earthquake in New Zealand as a good example of how continued training can increase efficiency and effectiveness in responding to crises in the region.

During the Q&A session, the chair asked the keynote speakers to indicate where they think Japan might participate in their defence capability development programmes. All emphasised that they welcomed all innovative proposals from Japan so long as they respected the element of sovereignty that is quickly becoming an essential element of Western procurement contracts.

Finally, when asked by a member of the audience how innovation could best be shared amongst navies around the world, two important points were raised. First, that innovation should not be focused on capabilities alone, but should be part of a much broader outlook on the importance of rethinking operational modus operandi to evolve together with the ever-changing threats. Second, but not least, the Institute for Future Warfare Studies, at the US Naval War College, is currently carrying out studies to understand how technologies, especially unmanned autonomous systems, will evolve in the future and the role they will play.

Dr. Alix Valenti

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Publish date

06/12/2017

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