Region’s Navies Train Together to Battle Emerging Threats

Region’s Navies Train Together to Battle Emerging Threats

By Geraldine Cook
April 20, 2016

Naval representatives from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the United States recently met to discuss working together through multinational operations to combat common threats.

Naval leaders from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru recently met at the U.S. Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) to learn about the center and its various programs, such as the Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) course for combating emerging threats.

Liaison officers, including Brazilian Navy Commander Marcelo Marcelino, Chilean Navy Commander Jorge Toso Canepa, Peruvian Navy Commander Humberto Javier Martínez Mujica, and Mexican Navy Captain Saúl Bandala were welcomed by U.S. Navy Commander Henry Kim to the SMWDC facilities in San Diego, California, on March 22nd. The event was also attended by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commanders Colin Fox and Matthew Cox.

Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) to the U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) use visits to the SMWDC to reach out to the U.S. Navy’s units and agencies. “The goal is to familiarize the liaison officers with the structure and functions of the U.S. Navy, particularly, in this case, with the West Coast organization, with the Development Center, and the Warfare Practices Instructors program at the Center,” Cmdr. Toso told Diálogo

Supporting information sharing

The SMWDC supports officers sharing information obtained during the training of junior officers in surface warfare. Participants also learn the most successful strategies for “synchronizing the different programs’ needs, operational activities, and maintenance for the Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) and the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG),” Cmdr. Martínez told Diálogo

The information session included a lecture on surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious warfare, anti-aircraft and anti-missile integrated defense, and mine warfare. At the end of the training programs, the junior officers graduate as WTIs, becoming a significant, multiplying force for training personnel assigned to subject matter areas in which they are specialized.

“Another important point we observed was the synchronization of training cycles with the operational and maintenance cycles for the CSGs and ESGs,” Cmdr. Martínez stated. “We also learned that these programs are aligned with the institutional strategy of ‘distributed lethality’.”

In addition to enhancing their understanding of the U.S. Navy’s organization, the activities at the SMWDC allowed the FLOs to see “the support given to these programs to increase the level of combat readiness in the naval surface action groups,” Cmdr. Martínez explained. “Some of these programs could be adapted to meet the needs of the participating navies.”

Latin America is home to several threats, including narco-trafficking, that also plague other countries throughout the world.
Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru must “continue to contribute through multinational naval operations to ensure open lines of maritime communication and fight against transnational threats such as the trafficking of drugs and humans, as well as against piracy and illegal fishing,” Cmdr. Martínez added. The nations also must “deal successfully with conventional threats”.

Common challenges

The common challenges facing the naval forces attending the SMWDC “are similar with regard to efficient methods for training personnel from the respective navies to face traditional and emerging threats so they can contribute to each country’s goals and maintain good order at sea in accordance with international law,” Cmdr. Toso said.

Naval forces need personnel with specialized training to share the responsibility for providing security and stability in the hemisphere. “If we are to truly achieve a more lethally distributed surface force capability in which every ship that floats can fight, and fight well, this change must go beyond how warfare commanders employ ships and aircraft,” said Rear Admiral Jim Kilby, the SMWDC’s Commanding Officer, on January 13th at the annual congress of the Surface Navy Association, according to a U.S. Navy press release. “[We must] …focus on – and reinvest in – tactical proficiency of the individual warfighter and watch-team levels.”

The familiarization and orientation program for FLOs offered by the USFFC will continue throughout a two-year cycle, contributing to stronger relations and greater cooperation among naval forces’ individual and joint responses to national and regional threats. “We will always welcome any other program that allows members of our respective navies to learn how our counterparts operate, train, and successfully face new threats at sea,” Cmdr. Martínez stated. “[These] programs significantly enhance good relations, mutual understanding, friendship, and ties of cooperation between allied and partner navies.”
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