Partnerships + Tools Of The Trade = Mission Success
By Dialogo January 01, 2012
Militaries worldwide face a challenging array of responsibilities. Fighting
insurgencies, securing national resources, protecting borders and carrying out
humanitarian missions are some of the tasks they are charged with. When trusted
allies use the same tools, military gains can be magnified exponentially.
A COMMON FRONT
In the fights in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, key coalition partners have
found success by using the same equipment, often made available by grants from the
CANADA: Modernized its lift capability with U.S. Army Chinook (CH-47D)
helicopters. The purchase included training and support to help transition from Iraq
to Afghanistan alongside other coalition forces.
UNITED KINGDOM and AUSTRALIA: Enhanced their aviation programs with
unmanned aerial vehicles purchased from the U.S. as well as night vision
capabilities. Australia’s forces also boosted its ground capability to protect its
troops by using U.S. Army M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. “This capability will be
increasingly important as widespread proliferation of cheap, high-tech and lethal
anti-armor, anti-personnel weapons could pose an increasing threat in any future
conflict,” said Australia’s former Defence Minister Brendan Nelson.
One of the biggest advantages to using similar equipment among partner
nations is the exchange of knowledge between armed forces. “There is a common
knowledge on the battlefield,” said Keith Webster, deputy assistant secretary of the
U.S. Army for defense exports and cooperation, during an interview with Diálogo.
“Military-to-military engagement leads to discussions about common operating tactics
in the battlefield.”
Beyond the Middle East battlegrounds, William J. McKeever, deputy chief for
the Americas division, U.S. Air Force international affairs, also sees the use of
similar equipment as a key component to military collaboration. “It is a very strong
link from pilot to pilot and technician to technician, very important to security
cooperation,” McKeever told Diálogo. “Without common factors, how would we know
their tactics, how would they know ours?”
The use of the same equipment during operations also leads to a common
logistics capability. If a need arises during an operation, spare parts are easily
accessible to borrow or buy from partner nations. “Equipment commonality is the
cornerstone of cooperation,” said McKeever. While McKeever underscored the
importance of having common equipment, he also stressed the value of
military-to-military interactions, such as military exercises and exchanges where
the equipment is put into practice and relationships are fostered.
STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND DISASTER RELIEF
Containment of insurgent groups and the ability to carry out humanitarian
missions can go hand in hand with modern military equipment. States can also fend
off other criminal entities.
NIGERIA: Seeking to protect its natural resources, Nigeria strengthened its
naval capabilities by acquiring four 54.86-meter buoy tenders from the U.S. Coast
Guard (USCG) in the early 2000s. These vessels are used to patrol the Niger Delta
and protect against oil theft. An additional 15 response boats were acquired to
patrol the oil rigs off the coast. Most recently, the Nigerian Navy acquired
Thunder, a 115.21-meter high-endurance cutter complete with a helicopter flight
deck. The Nigerian Sailors received U.S.-based training prior to sailing the cutter
back to Nigeria.
SAUDI ARABIA: The Military modernized its helicopter fleet with an
investment in three helicopters from the U.S. Army. This will give its Military and
National Guard a modern helicopter capability, with U.S. programs support, until the
program is retired in the next 30 years.
SINGAPORE: Its current Military capability serves as a stabilizing force to
support the autonomy of the state and for humanitarian purposes. A long-standing
partnership and military base agreements between Singapore and the U.S. allow for a
portion of Singapore’s CH-47 fleet to be stored in the state of Texas. After
Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., Singapore assisted with evacuations in New Orleans by
deploying its Chinook (CH-47) helicopters to the area.
SRI LANKA: In 2004, the Military acquired a 64-meter medium-endurance
cutter, the Samudura. The ship’s size enabled the Sri Lankan Navy to extend its
reach off the coast and stop the influx of weapons that the terrorist organization,
the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam, was bringing ashore. The ship also has been
able to help stranded fishermen.
m UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The country expanded its air missile defense
capability through the Patriot Missile Program. The multibillion dollar program
includes training, maintenance and assistance from U.S. forces in setting up the
capability in a long-term military-to-military relationship.
YEMEN: Its Coast Guard fleet was modernized to better patrol territorial
waters. The USCG has supported the Yemen Coast Guard in advising, training and
providing assets during the past decade. In 2011, the USCG transferred two
26.52-meter patrol boats to Yemen. Yemen Coast Guard crews received U.S.-based
training on specific systems on the patrol boats and general training and sea trials
in the state of Louisiana, where the newly acquired boats were built.
Sources: U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, www.news.com.au, Sri
The Tools to Combat
Diálogo spoke with Rear Admiral Joseph W. Rixey, director of the U.S. Navy
International Programs Office (IPO), about how his office supports the region
against the common maritime threats in the Americas.
Diálogo: What are the shared maritime threats in the Americas and how does
the Navy IPO help address some of those?
Rear Admiral Joseph W. Rixey: Most of them are obvious, counternarcotics and
counterterrorism, freedom of the seas, counterpiracy, counter illicit activity,
protection of the economic activity zone, and the fifth, which we like to highlight,
is the humanitarian crisis and natural disaster.
We assist them [partner nations] in acquiring whatever equipment and training
and capabilities they need to address these threats; we facilitate partner capacity.
We coordinate with the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard acquisition
commands to meet our ally requirements.
Diálogo: What are the most important factors of maritime partnerships?
Rear Adm. Rixey: The first thing you start with is trust, and mutual respect
for each other’s capabilities. We know the threats, and we identify common
objectives. What ends up happening is that you come to a design or a capability that
meets that, and of course, what is important about maritime partnerships is
interoperability. So that when a threat emerges, any emergent situation, they can
expect assistance right away, and that assistance would be seamless and coordinated.
Diálogo: How are aircraft and ship transfers facilitating interoperability
with Latin American and Caribbean partners?
Rear Adm. Rixey: The mechanism is that if you trade like products, if you use
similar communications data links, interoperability can occur with common military
equipment. Mostly, interoperability is associated with the ability to communicate
and develop joint interoperable tactics, techniques and procedures in coalition
operations. One such example is in humanitarian relief that we saw in Haiti, the
ability to establish communications; that is an interoperability mechanism.
Diálogo: Can you explain what “cooperative development” looks like in the
Rear Adm. Rixey: We use a mechanism called a master information exchange
agreement between the countries, and what these master information exchange
information agreements permit is a reciprocal, or bilateral, exchange of research
and development information.
So, what we do is exchange information, engineers and scientists exchange
programs, and basic discussions which lead sometimes to cooperative development of
We have been doing a lot of information exchanges. [For example,] a
cooperative program with Brazil, with green energy, the way that they do green
energy, the way they use their biofuels and manufacture their biofuels and we want
to learn from that.