Nations Discuss Maritime Security at Denmark Conference
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 20, 2008 Terrorism, piracy and other transnational threats were among topics military planners from around the world discussed at a recent conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, right, the Joint Staff’s director for strategic plans and policy, and Maj. Gen. Peter Kuhnel, Defense Command Denmark’s deputy chief of staff for operations, pose for a photo in Copenhagen, Denmark. The two men were attending an international military planning conference. Photo courtesy of Defense Command Denmark
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, the Joint Staff’s director for strategic plans and policy, said the meeting examined ways countries can work together to address these threats.
“Trust” and “will” were two words Sattler continually emphasized during a briefing with Pentagon reporters yesterday following his return from Denmark. Nations must trust one another to share information, and they must exercise the will to stop illegal activities on the seas, he said, adding that the conference was a place to build that trust and show that will.
The multilateral planning conference attracted 234 participants from 61 countries. “Global maritime security cooperation was the over-arching theme,” Sattler said. He added that the nations also worked together in anticipation of a United Nations Security Council resolution on piracy that the world body is considering.
Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, and Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, were keynote speakers at the event.
Sattler said the conference participants all recognize the importance of maritime security. “They know that 90 percent of the commerce carried in the world goes by ships,” he said, and so land-locked countries, as well as maritime nations, have a stake in the issue.
The conference looked at likely maritime threats and examined emerging challenges. Participants worked toward building future partnership initiatives and policy recommendations, Sattler said.
Scott Norwood, Sattler’s deputy, said the conference also helped nations understand the roles they play, the importance of regional and global cooperation, and the applicability of law of the sea agreements, treaties and protocols.
Break-out sessions grouped countries from around the world to work on proposals and discuss issues. They briefed the discussions to the conference as a whole. All those discussions have been gathered and will be published in the weeks ahead, Norwood said.
Building maritime capacity was another important part of the conference. Sattler said nations recognize the need for discussions within their own governments about the role of their justice departments, coast guards, navies and so on.
Operationally, the conferees discussed the importance of maritime situational awareness and sharing that information. Sattler cited cooperation among Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia as an example.
Four years ago, insurance companies raised the rates for ships transiting the Straits of Malacca, which the three countries share. Sixty cases of piracy were taking place per year in and near the straits. The three countries began sharing maritime information and working together, and only one case of piracy has taken place in the region so far this year, Sattler said.
“No nation can do all this alone,” he said. “If we work together, we can stop problems from growing into crises. It boils down to trust that allows us to work together, and we need to build that now. Trust cannot be surged.”