KOROR, Palau -- U.S. Coast Guard members and U.S. Marines participated in Koa Moana for a subject matter exchange alongside partners in Palau July 26 -28.
"This region is very dynamic, and the challenges cross multiple international and interagency jurisdictions. Exercises like this help us better understand each other and significantly promote interoperability ahead of a crisis," said Lt. Cmdr. Field Cassiano, U.S. Coast Guard liaison to the Republic of Palau. "We are excited and honored to share with and learn from our Palauan and U.S. Marine Corps friends."
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marines conducted a subject matter expert exchange on restraint devices, tactical approach, detainee contact, and underway boardings. Participants include the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) Honolulu, U.S. Coast Guard Fourteenth District, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, and U.S. Marines with Task Force Koa Moana 22, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
This session highlights the common challenges in the region. Curbing illegal activities such as maritime crime and illegal, unrestricted, and unreported fishing within Oceania are critical goals of the joint maritime exercise.
"Over the course of this engagement, we reviewed policies and procedures with our Palauan partners to combine best practices involving defensive techniques and boarding tactics. These fundamental skills are critical to our collective maritime security duties at sea," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Duarte, a maritime enforcement specialist with U.S. Coast Guard MSST Honolulu. "This engagement directly promotes our combined maritime security posture in the Indo-Pacific."
The exercise provides an opportunity to work side-by-side with partners to better synchronize and rehearse for potential real-world scenarios. Maritime security is critical to the overall stability of the Indo-Pacific. The Central Indo-Pacific includes the numerous seas and straits which provide vital sea lines of communication connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans. These include the Philippine Sea, the north coast of Australia, and the seas surrounding New Guinea, western and central Micronesia, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. The central Indo-Pacific, due in part to its central location at the meeting of two oceans, has an incredible richness and diversity of marine organisms.
The exchange offered members of the U.S. armed forces opportunities to learn from their Palauan counterparts. Building on this shared understanding of maritime law enforcement allows both sides to share knowledge and best practices to better both parties' tactics, techniques, and procedures.
"One of the most important facets of this exercise is to continue to build relationships with our partners across the Pacific," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. "It is imperative that we continue working together to leverage our resources to ensure maritime safety and security in the region. Having a baseline knowledge of each other's best practices allows us to work seamlessly when the need arises." The U.S. Coast Guard regularly conducts operations with Palau, from joint patrols of the Philippine Sea and the Palauan Exclusive Economic Zone to assisting with aids to navigation and delivering supplies. Participating in exercise activities also enhances the interoperability necessary during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Task Force Koa Moana aims to strengthen and enhance relationships between the U.S. and partner nations in the Indo-Pacific Region. The team has the unique opportunity and privilege of working with the Republic of Palau as a sign of U.S. commitment to the people of Palau and its partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific region.