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Cooperative Strategy Forum Focuses on Pacific Maritime Security

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

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HONOLULU, December 16, 2015 — Gaining a better understanding of each other’s viewpoints and fostering improved future collaboration was the focus here Dec. 14, as representatives from 10 partner nations gathered for a two-day cooperative strategy forum.

The forum, co-hosted by the chief of naval operations, took place at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

In a keynote speech, Navy Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, shared his expectations of those operating in the waters of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Responsible, Safe Compliance With International Law

“I’m focused on the behavior of all naval and maritime forces in the region, not on any specific country,” Swift said. “I expect all naval and maritime forces, including my own, to operate responsibly, safely and in full compliance with international law.”

Navy Capt. Patrick Gibbons operations, plans and strategy legal advisor and oceans policy advisor for the chief of naval operations, explained how the forum builds relationships and strengthens collaborative efforts between the United States and its allies.

“This forum is designed to facilitate an exchange of views among all our allies and partners in the region,” Gibbons said. “This exchange of views helps us to understand each other’s approaches to the challenges in the region but it also facilitates personal relationships between the attendees.”

Navy Cmdr. Jonathan Odom, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies military professor and Cooperative Strategy Forum organizer, said that the center also benefits from these types of multinational events.

Maintaining Regional Cooperation

“One of the top three priorities in our curriculum, both in workshops and courses that we teach, is now maritime security,” he said. “For us to hold an event here where you have the leaders or representatives of the leaders of the navies throughout this region discussing ways to cooperate on maritime issues is clearly quite an opportunity for us.”

As part of the event, Swift explained why maintaining cooperation between partner nations in the region is important.

“Today, all Indo-Asia-Pacific nations benefit from a rising tide of prosperity,” the admiral said. “We all have major stakes in this region’s continued success, especially at sea, where so much of our trade, investment and interaction take place.”

Swift then offered his thoughts on the way ahead for the region.

“I’m convinced the continued promotion of the rules-based system that evolved over the past 70 years remains the best way forward for all nations in this region, large and small, to continue to rise peacefully, confidently, securely, and economically,” he said. “My concern is that after many decades of peace and prosperity at sea, we may be seeing the leading edge of a return of ‘might makes right’ to the region. Such an approach may once again impact the vibrant but vulnerable, waters of Southeast Asia.”