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360 Degrees of Counter-Measures against Piracy and Terrorist Threats

By: Jose Medina, PortGard Training Consultant

The subject of exposure to acts of terrorism and piracy has once again been occupying minds in the SE Asia region with governments anxious to protect the existing levels of commercial traffic and to secure expansion of tourist and leisure sectors connected with the waterways. Two recent conferences, a symposium in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur at the end of May on developing marine tourism, and an annual Asia Security Conference on in early June were attended by Defense Ministers from the region and beyond, and each brought up the sensitive issue of the Malacca Strait, the narrow, 800-kilometer (500-mile) shipping lane situated between Malaysia and Indonesia which has of late been subject to a number of violent piracy attacks. For the year 2004, the International Maritime Bureau, based in London, recorded 37 separate pirate attacks on vessels. These occurred despite coordinated marine patrols mounted by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

But according to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the region “remained under threat from terror attacks” who are eyeing the narrow strait, through which about 50,000 ships pass each year. “The threat is real and urgent” Lee insists, speaking at an interview on Radio Singapore International, “We know that terrorists have been studying maritime targets across the region.”

These are just some examples of threats that loom in the global regions. In order to prevent a large-scale terror attack on a maritime target, measures must continue to be implemented in the maritime domain, particularly in the areas of target-hardening and situation-awareness development. This necessitates a deepening of cooperation between those states concerned. Solutions must be tailored which take into account issues such as differing resources, national priorities and concerns over the erosion of sovereignty. This is particularly the case in international waterways such as the Straits of Malacca where the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of the three littoral states overlap. Countermeasures should also be focused and appropriate and based on a true understanding of the threat faced.

Our current PortGard Training and Services programs assist in a 360 degree environment of capabilities in which can assist the many needs of current security special interest groups, law enforcement and military operations. Also consider although the possible ability of terrorist groups to attack by sea may be smaller than that of being on the ground, however the piracy groups consistently attacking special shipping interests may be linked with the terrorist organizations in obtaining special equipment, gear, and more importantly WMD’s or material which is shipped to assist in creating WMD’s.

Our training and consulting programs for the maritime arena are geared to assist your personnel in a multitude of security awareness opportunities that others in the industry can compare to. Remember, it is about awareness, education, and knowing your 360 degrees.

Come visit us at the Maritime Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on November 27th and 28th. Hope to see you there.

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