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NEWS | July 30, 2014

U.S. Pacific Command Kicks Off Exercise Fortune Guard

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

U.S. Pacific Command is hosting personnel from 31 nations as part of the proliferation security initiative Exercise Fortune Guard.

The exercise will be held in Hawaii and marks the beginning of a six-year series of exercises that various “expert” nations in the region will host. These are New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The initiative seeks to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Over its 11-year history, the initiative has built resolve and capacity worldwide, said a senior defense official speaking on background.

The initiative began in 2003 with 11 endorsing nations. Today, that number is up to 104. “What ties these nations together is their commitment to act and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the official said.

Exercises such as Fortune Guard have provided nations a forum to demonstrate the intention to act and to enhance their capabilities and capacity, the official said.

The exercises help the nations share the best tactics against proliferators. Since the initiative began, the nature of the proliferation threat has changed, the official said, and the exercises are a way to disseminate current information.

In 2003, the threat was the shipment of whole systems, the official said. She pointed to North Korea’s attempt to export a full missile system to Yemen in 2002.

Today, the problem is dual-use items. “This is a way that nations can develop weapons of mass destruction related capabilities,” she said, noting that these dual-use items are harder to track and harder to prove the intention.

The world also is seeing a change in how proliferators transport the materials. In the past, it was by sea. Now, officials are seeing more smuggling by air and by land. “This makes it far more complex,” the official said.

Therefore, the official said, Fortune Guard focuses on dual-use commodities and diverse shipping modes. The initiative also stresses the whole-of-government approach to meeting challenges, the official said. “There may be a military or defense role as part of that whole of government push, but all the diplomatic, customs, border [agencies] need to come together for interdiction,” she added.

Fortune Guard will have a table-top exercise, a port exercise and an exercise at sea. It also will have an academic seminar focused on proliferation threats and trends and regional capabilities.

Specifically, exercise participants will observe a boarding at sea of the USNS Henry J. Kaiser, which will act as a suspect vessel. Japan and South Korea are contributing vessels and boarding teams, and Australia is providing role players. Ashore, there will be a demonstration on how to search a suspect aircraft.

Canadian officials will talk about the relationship between the initiative and the United Nations. Norwegian officials will discuss lessons learned from removing chemical weapons from Syria.

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