42nd SHADE CONFERENCE: “There is perhaps one main focus that we need to have – that international shipping can go about its business unhindered.”April 23, 2018 - 16:53
EU NAVFOR chaired the 42nd Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) conference in Bahrain over two days from 17th to 18th April 2018; this was co-chaired by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and was attended by independently deploying nations and the maritime shipping industry.
The SHADE conference occurs twice yearly in the Kingdom of Bahrain with chair responsibilities rotating between EU NAVFOR and CMF. 110 people attended the conference including representatives from maritime shipping partners alongside the independent maritime naval force representatives from Russia, China and India. The main purpose of the conference is to offer delegates the chance to discuss and understand issues surrounding maritime security in the region and to ensure de-confliction between navies when conducting operations.
EU NAVFOR has been conducting counter-piracy operations since December 2008, with much success. However, the suppression of piracy remains an on-going effort with all military and industrial partners playing their part – SHADE has remained an on-going key focal point for this activity to be coordinated.
Colonel Rich Cantrill, Chief of Staff EU NAVFOR confirmed: “… that we need to be more organised and transparent, to share plans for tactical operations with our military partners in order to allow cooperation, coordination and collaboration for greater success”. He added that: “Operation Atalanta will continue to sail on with its mandate and continue to play its part in the broader maritime security architecture.”
A diversification of threats in recent years including piracy, terrorism and narcotic smuggling has seen a need for all maritime agencies to work more closely to ensure freedom of navigation. EU NAVFOR’s counter piracy mandate will remain in the future but it will aim to have closer complementary cooperation, coordination and collaboration to support partners across the diverse range of maritime threats. This will assist CMF and independent deployers mandates as they use all available means to ‘find, fix and finish’ against a range of threats that exist. With organisations working in this complementary way, sharing information will act as force multipliers in these endeavours.
At the start of the conference Commodore Steve Dainton, Deputy Commander of CMF said: “As threats have changed so has the way we need to work. It is impressive that we are now working more closely, more clearly and more collaboratively than ever before” he added: “a huge amount of effort between military and civil agencies and communities continues as witnessed here in SHADE today. There is perhaps one main focus that we need to have – that international shipping can go about its business unhindered.”
Perspectives were heard from the independent deployers of Russia, China and India. Each nation declared their intent to remain firm partners in maritime security operations in the region and whilst their specific mandates differed, they shared a common goal – the free flow of commerce. Captain Andrew Quinn, Director of CMF Operations said: “Real world events are as complex as ever but we are now working more closely than ever before. Our differences can be seen as complementary using the different tools of our forces as a tool kit to meet our common goals.”
Keynote speakers included retired Indian Navy Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan who discussed his views on the geo-political regional situation and focussing on Somalia. “Security is more than just maritime security and the maritime is more than just the navy and the coast-guard. There is a need to rebuild the Somali maritime and fishing capability in order to ensure regional stability” he importantly added: “to do this we must avoid failures of imagination, looking to develop a comprehensive approach to solutions.” A delegation from EUCAP reinforced the need to grow the maritime capabilities in Somalia and outlined some of the EU efforts that are partnered with international organisations.
The United Nations Somali and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) were represented by Dr. Charles Cater and Jay Bahadur who discussed the need to interdict charcoal, narcotics and arms smuggling, which supports piracy and terrorism. Interdiction of these illegal assets relies on effective information sharing amongst all partners. They outlined a recent example of weapons smuggling interception was ‘found, fixed and finished’. A CMF Maritime Patrol Aircraft spotted (found) the consignment moving from Yemen to the Puntland Coastline; the information was shared via EU NAVFOR’s Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and passed to Somali officials and regional maritime law enforcement entities (fixed) who were then able to conduct arrests as the smugglers came ashore, with the SEMG then able to inspect the seized weapons (finished). This excellent example demonstrates the cooperation, coordination and collaboration concepts now being used in action across the organisations in the region.
As the 42nd SHADE closed the maritime community was charged with continuing its on-going and combined efforts to remain vigilant, to apply Best Management Practices, to continue with information sharing and collaboration to ensure maritime security. EU NAVFOR and CMF will remain firm partners in these efforts. The 43rd SHADE planning is already underway and as already said: “There is perhaps one main focus that we need to have – that international shipping can go about its business unhindered.”
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