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U.S. and Philippines: Building Partner Capacity for Maritime Domain Awareness

By Pacific Command Public Affairs | June 9, 2015

The Republic of the Philippines recently inaugurated a National Coastal Watch Center (NCWC) that will greatly improve its maritime border security.   Both Philippine and U.S. dignitaries attended the April 28th ribbon cutting ceremony held in Manila for the facilities that will house this maritime security information fusion and command center.

The NCWC brings together a variety of Philippine government agencies with responsibility to protect the nation’s coasts and maritime resources.  It carries out its mission by providing a venue and structure for the varied agencies to coordinate their efforts and maximize their capabilities in the areas of surveillance, maritime domain awareness (MDA); planning and coordination; and detection, response and recovery.

Among the agencies represented at the center are the Navy, Coast Guard, National Police, Customs, Immigration, Fisheries, and Center of Transnational Crime.

The NCWC was created under a Philippine Executive Order to address threats to territorial integrity, as well as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), piracy, armed robbery, terrorism, trafficking in persons, smuggling, illegal fishing, transnational crimes, national disaster response, climate change, and maritime environment degradation.

The NCWC will use a complex surveillance system that will eventually be implemented throughout the Philippine archipelago, and provide an integrated view of activities in the surrounding waters.  The system integrates the information from sensors, such as the radar and Automated Identification System (AIS) receivers, VHF and HF communications, and radiation detection and identification equipment.  This provides an overall view of maritime traffic. 

With this enhanced capability, the Philippine authorities will be better able to deter, detect, and interdict weapons of mass destruction and related materials transitioning through or near the Republic of the Philippines’ territorial waters.

In an effort to build partner nation capacity, the U.S. government, through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), provided financing and oversight of the construction of the NCWC facility.  The U.S. government also contributed mission essential equipment for maritime surveillance and WMD detection to various agencies.  This is an example of how the long existing U.S.-Philippine alliance has contributed to the security of Asia for more than 60 years.