All posts by Chris Rawley

U.S. Navy, Commander

Distributed Lethality, Non-traditional Fleets, and the Law of War

Distributed Lethality Topic Week

By Chris Rawley

In simplest terms, the U.S. Navy’s distributed lethality concept complicates the enemy’s targeting problem by dispersing larger numbers of platforms capable of offensive action over a wide geographic area.  With no significant increases in fleet size anticipated for the foreseeable future, it is incumbent that all avenues be pursued that will optimize the use of scarce ships.

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A video recently released by the Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet shows a variety of ships besides surface combatants equipped with anti-ship missiles and unmanned aircraft capable of targeting these weapons.  In addition to amphibious vessels, a Lewis and Clark Dry Cargo/Ammunition ship is depicted (minute 1:21) with a drop-in missile module. This ship, and 29 others in the U.S. Navy’s Combat Logistics Force (CLF), are controlled by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) and manned by professional civilian mariners (CIVMARS).  The introduction of armed naval auxiliaries in the U.S. fleet would raise a number of important operational and legal questions.

In what sort of tactical situations might an offensively-armed replenishment ship be worthwhile?  Distributed lethality requires distributed logistics. Meaning, surface combatants operating alone or in small groups will require fuel, food, ammunition, and parts. In a major theater war, traditional replenishment ports will be placed at risk by mines, theater ballistic missiles, terrorist surrogates, and other area-denial capabilities. To mitigate these risks, underway replenishment has been a mainstay of U.S. naval surface ship operations for nearly a century. A CLF ship armed with self-defense weapons and a small number of medium ranged surface-to-surface missiles operating in tandem with a group of cruisers and destroyers (CRUDES) provides additional magazine capacity for the surface combatants.

Conversely, oilers operating solo while transiting to or from underway replenishment stations are an appetizing target for would-be adversaries. In some cases, these ships would require a dedicated “shotgun” surface combatant to protect their precious cargoes. But these escorts would take scarce CRUDES ships away from other offensive duties. CLF ships equipped with additional self-defense weapons, be they remotely-operated crew served machine guns or short-ranged surface-to-air missiles (like the SeaRAM), will enable defense against a variety of potential attackers. However, the possibility that CLF ships are capable of not just defending themselves, but of fighting back, will challenge indirect enemy strategies that rely on attrition of our logistic forces.  A CLF ship would target its over-the-horizon weapons by either cueing off another platform’s sensors or using organic manned or unmanned aircraft.  These ships sometimes deploy with MH-60s, which can carry their own weapons, but can also assist in targeting a ship’s missiles.  For longer ranges, future unmanned air vehicles such as DARPA’s TERN prototype could support CLF-launched missile engagements over hundreds of miles. Besides the aforementioned weapons, CLF ships providing replenishment operations within adversary threat envelopes will need to employ counter-targeting techniques and some will carry Surface Ship Torpedo Defense Systems.

Non-traditional or Normal?

I’ve been guilty of using the phrase “non-traditional” naval vessels when referring to auxiliaries engaged in naval operations other than logistics. A recent example would be MSC’s Expeditionary Fast Transports serving as Partnership Station platforms. Historically, however, civilian-run shipping has been integral to naval warfare for as long as humankind has fought on the seas. Lincoln Paine discusses a number of non-traditional fleets in The Sea and Civilization, an amazingly comprehensive chronology of all aspects of maritime trade and warfare. In lieu of a powerful navy, the early Roman Empire established coloniae maritimae (maritime colonies), which exempted their men from service in the legions in exchange for their promise to destroy invading enemy vessels. A millennium later, Byzantium held off Muslim invaders at sea with a largely provisional force of merchants and fishermen. In the 19th Century, pirates turned privateers were engaged as naval commerce raiders by various states including Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas.

In World War I, the British Admiralty encouraged merchant vessels to arm themselves with deck guns, ostensibly for the purposes of defense. Some of these merchants took it upon themselves to actively attack German shipping, often using false flags. The German Empire, as one might expect, grew to view these vessels as belligerents, rather than as neutral shipping, a role they were initially accorded by international law. Then in World War II, thousands of American merchant ships were protected by Naval Armed Guards, who manned anti-aircraft weapons and up to 3″ deck guns. Merchant mariners supported these gun crews by passing ammunition, but were also trained to employ the weapons when necessary, and many did so, distinguishing themselves in battle.

WNUS_6-50_mk8_Mongolia_stern_pic
Historical Precedence: Naval Armed Guard Sailors Man the stern 6″ (15.2 cm) gun on S.S. Mongolia in May 1917 (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 41710) .

More recently, we’ve watched the emergence of China’s rather sizable maritime militias, which are a key aspect of the PLAN’s expansion strategy in the South China Sea. These sorts of maritime surrogates have kept up with changing naval technology. Today, instantaneous data communications have made over-the-horizon networked targeting by civilian craft a distinct possibility. Additionally, concealable anti-ship weapons, such as Russia’s Club-K containerized missile system, could raise the threat posed by merchant shipping. These non-traditional fleets are not anomalies, but rather mainstays of offensive naval warfare.  How does this historical reality reconcile with modern legal norms of international armed conflict?

Nuances Riding on a Single Letter

Traditional prohibitions against civilians taking a direct part in hostilities are based on a duty to discriminate between combatants who may be lawfully targeted and non-combatants who may not be intentionally targeted. International humanitarian law is also designed to protect duly-recognized combatants from prosecution and provide for status as prisoners of war. In modern times, these distinctions have been interpreted to prohibit civilians aboard a warship from serving as a weapons release authority or standing tactical watches.  Besides CIVMARS, a host of civilians routinely ride naval ships, including maintenance contractors, college instructors, and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation planners; all of course, in non-tactical roles.

img23_700px
The hidden shipping threat: Russian Club-K containerized missile system.

To understand the legal nuances behind arguments for and against non-traditional naval vessels undertaking offensive operations, it’s worth examining the distinction the U.S. Navy makes between warships and naval auxiliary vessels.[1] In accordance with Navy Regulations, Article 1259, a commissioned warship – designated USS – requires “a personal flag or command pennant of an officer of the Navy, or a commission pennant.” U.S. Naval Ships (USNS) operate under the control of civilian mariners, and therefore do not technically qualify as warships. Under the same regulations, in some circumstances, a USNS ship can be reclassified as a USS hull, but this requires approval by the Secretary of the Navy.  These conventions are supported by Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which states a warship is “a ship belonging to the armed forces of a State bearing the external marks distinguishing such ships of its nationality, under the command of an officer duly commissioned by the government of the State and whose name appears in the appropriate service list or its equivalent, and manned by a crew which is under regular armed forces discipline.” The 1994 San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea also provides a non-binding, but widely-accepted view of naval auxiliaries in warfare.

Auxiliaries are vessels, other than warships, that are under the exclusive control of the armed forces of a state. Some interpretations of international law infer that naval auxiliaries (non-warships) may defend themselves and other friendly forces in the vicinity, but may not be used to conduct offensive belligerent acts. Under the strictest legal interpretations, MSC ships would be prohibited from a range of activities to include launching anti-ship weapons, but also to missions as innocuous and defensive as clearing a channel of mines for the safe passage of commercial shipping. International agreements are important, but we should not ignore historical precedence and operational necessity that may force auxiliaries into combat roles. As further precedence, not every vessel conducting offensive missions in the U.S. Navy meets the criterion required for warship. For example, combatant craft of the Navy’s Special Boat Teams and Coastal Riverine Squadrons are not commissioned warships, but may carry out offensive operations. Of course, these boats are run by Navy crews, and a commissioned officer resides at some point in their chain of command (though not always embarked).

150214-N-RB579-018-e1424780150356
Embarked Security Team (EST) watchstander on the Military Sealift Command’s Expeditionary Fast Transport (T-EPF-1) in Sekondi, Ghana, Feb. 14, 2015 (US Navy photo).

Given generally-accepted views of international law, what are the alternatives available to include naval auxiliaries as offensives nodes in a distributed lethality regime? A handful of warships in the U.S. Navy, including USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15), two flagships, and submarine tenders, feature a hybrid crewing model. These ships are commanded by a commissioned naval officer, though their navigation and engineering functions are primarily conducted by CIVMARs. This hybrid crewing approach enables them to conduct or command offensive operations in accordance with international law. Implementing this approach on a wider scale would require the reclassification of armed CLF ships to USS and the introduction of permanent Navy crews, an option not necessarily supported by today’s manpower budgets.

Embarking military detachments to operate defensive and offensive weapons might be another acceptable alternative. Over the past few decades, the combat logistics force has transitioned from USS ships, to USNS ships embarking military detachments (MILDETS) run by a junior surface warfare officer, and now to primarily USNS ships with no MILDETS. When embarked, MILDETS mostly handled command and control (C2) functions. Many of these roles have been absorbed by CIVMARS, but others, like operating self-defense weapons, are still supported by embarked Navy security teams. It’s possible that arming a CLF ship and operating its weapons systems with a MILDET, without reclassifying it as USS could put a ship’s status as naval auxiliary in jeopardy during hostilities. However, like merchant shipping that was targeted during the World Wars, that becomes largely an irrelevant academic argument once ordnance starts flying and logistics ships become primary targets themselves.

In an era of declining Navy end strength and increasing personnel costs, it is no longer fiscally prudent to assign full time military detachments to every ship that might require one in wartime.  The Navy’s reserve component (RC) provides a feasible C2 alternative which can be surged forward during contingency operations, while meeting legal and operational requirements for offensive operations. In recent years, military detachments for theater security cooperation missions onboard MSC ships have been created ad hoc from cross-decked active duty Sailors or sourced from existing staffs such as Destroyer Squadrons. In the event of a major contingency, it is likely that these staffs will be tied up with their primary missions and unable to dedicate manpower to supporting auxiliary C2 requirements. In recognition of these demands, the Military Sealift Command recently established a dedicated Navy Reserve unit designed to provide C2 elements for MSC ships involved in non-logistics missions. This nascent capability has been demonstrated with embarked detachments onboard various MSC ships during fleet exercises and security cooperation missions.

The expansion of additional RC military detachments should be explored that support not only theater security missions, but future offensively-armed combat logistics force ships. The advantages of this capability residing in the reserve force are several: The first relates to cost.  On average, a part-time reservist costs the navy approximately one fifth of an active duty Sailor. In peace-time, reservists would train for the mission by embarking CLF ships to support weapons testing and fleet exercises, and surge forward if required for contingency missions.  Additionally, reserve Sailors, some of them with licensed merchant credentials themselves, have a strong knowledge of MSC ship unique operating procedures and understand how to integrate well with CIVMARs. The habitual relationships dedicated reserve units build with CIVMAR crews have proven valuable in other missions.

Regardless of whether the decision is made to increase the weapons capabilities of our Military Sealift Command ships, additional RC detachments would provide the legal and operational top-cover necessary to perform other traditional naval operations on these vessels in peace and war to include maritime security operations, mine-countermeasures, special operations direct action support, and amphibious raids.

Chris Rawley is a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and serves as Commanding Officer for the Navy’s sole unit dedicated to providing command and control detachments aboard Military Sealift Command vessels. The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or any other agency. 

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[1] The author is not an operational law attorney.  The reader is encouraged to seek out other legal interpretations.

What is the Future of Navies?

By Dr. Roberto Pereyra 

In this article I will try to provide a brief summary of my views on the purpose of navies, the need for them, and where they are bound to go.

When a regular citizen thinks of the sea, he conceives its vastness, and in his mind he envisages a horizon, but what he can’t naturally perceive is what awaits beyond that; he probably cannot fathom what lies beneath the ground, on the seabed, at great depths or on the surface.

It is also likely that he’s unaware of the obligations that nation states must fulfill in multiple areas, which include to safeguarding human lives at sea.

The sea is in itself relevant, as two thirds of the planet’s surface is covered by water[1]. The Southern Hemisphere is comprised of only 19% land,  while in the Northern Hemisphere land is 39% of the earth’s surface.

The importance of the seas and oceans for mankind as a source of resources and unity is an assertion which needs not be analyzed or questioned, considering more than 60% of the world’s population lives along a coast should be proof enough.

In America, as in the rest of the world, “the necessities and burdens of the people” are transported by sea, thus leading to motorways of the sea which never collapse, don’t present roadblocks, and are not affected by human activity[2].

It is worth noting that maritime shipping is relevant worldwide (institutionally) and is increasing in earnest.  The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. Efthimios M Mitropoulos during the commemoration of the world maritime day 2005, remarked: “we live in a global society which is supported by a global economy – and that economy simply could not function if it were not for ships and the shipping industry.”[3]

As Keohane and Nye note,[4] “we live in an interdependent world of power, hence practically no nation can consider itself self-sufficient, given that, generally speaking, there is now a “mutual reliance[5]”.

Resources scarcity is progressively heightened in a world population which is estimated to grow fourfold from 1950 to 2050. Thus, we must ruminate on the location of resources if they are not located within our countries.  The wherewithal to transport them, which will most likely be by maritime means, make resource scarcity an unwavering variable.

This same analysis establishing the convenience of the sea has been conducted from a nefarious stand point by those seeking to conduct a widely spread gamut of illegal activities.

There are multiple threats hovering over the maritime realm, and if states are not paying attention, they will domestically become more vulnerable as a result of their maritime negligence.

Offshore oil discoveries are progressively becoming more important; case in point, Brazil’s Blue Amazon (the South Atlantic), not to mention the statements made by several states regarding their continental shelf.

Along the same line, and as we ponder upon the purpose of a navy, let’s take a look at what happens when faced with a game changer, namely a “black swan” type of event as described by Nassim Nicholas taleb[6] in his book by the same title. If we begin to ask ourselves about who is ready to deploy, capable of providing support to an ally lacking an airport to land in, it is generally the navy who is able to get there and respond with its prepared and trained maritime assets. We only need to recall what took place in Haiti, 2010, where the navies were the first to set foot and recover transportation infrastructure, provided first response services and established a command and control system tailored to the emergency.

The navy is able to deploy from one side of the globe to another in its pursuit to protect its interests, and can additionally do so in order to protect their fellow citizens when they fall victims to a disaster.

The ability to have a hospital ship serve as a first responder providing relief when emergencies strike, carries value that may be underestimated but not denied as a state capability when faced with their own urgencies or demands.

Moreover, we must not lose sight of the founding purpose of a navy as it provided assistance to countries of the hemisphere in their efforts to develop inhospitable areas with their relentless force opening up navigable waterways while ensuring the delivery of supplies into territories that were nearly forgotten.

Globalization has created and increased international linkages. Navies are not lagging behind this trend with international exercises which allow for an exchange of experiences and know-how, while raising teamwork skills and potentially forging an international naval force in the future.  This force is currently seen in the form of various international naval exercises under many different designations dependent upon the participating nations. These exercises conclude with a wealth of lessons learned.

Navies will follow mandates dictated by their civilian authorities; they will be downsized, reorganized or even abolished. Regardless of their fate, nothing will change or deny the reality of things, and what it would mean to not possess a navy, or to have one that is inefficient or inoperable, and how that translates into a lack of awareness regarding the real magnitude of the world stage in which we live, where state interests are what’s at stake and how they can always be supported from the sea.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight the fact that I perceive a clear lack of communication with society regarding naval and maritime operations, and how the need for the sea will not decrease, nor will the need to dispose of the sea as the means for carrying out illegal activities change.  The sea generally provides the ideal means to provide support during domestic and international emergencies.

Lastly, we only realize the importance someone or something holds, until they’re gone, I’m sure any reader can relate to this, so then let’s not allow for this to occur to our navies.

[1]N. del A  CURSO “INTERESES MARÍTIMOS ARGENTINOS”- Ciclo 2005. Centro de Estudios Estratégicos de la Armada

[2] N. del A. In general here, we need to make an excepcion for Piricy an Terrorism at sea

[3] MITROPOULOS Efthimios, Obtenido del Texto del discurso del Secretario General de la OMI, en el Día Marítimo Mundial 2005. Titulado “el transporte marítimo internacional vehículo del comercio mundial”.

[4]KEOHANE R & NYE J, Poder e Interdependencia, la política mundial en transición. Colección Estudios Internacionales. 1ª Edición. Editor Grupo Editor Latinoamericano. 1988, p 22. Traducido por Franco Heber Cardoso Power and Interdependence, world politics in transition.  Editor Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

[5] Ibidem

[6] Taleb se refiere a casi todos los grandes descubrimientos científicos, hechos históricos, y logros artísticos como “cisnes negro”, – sin dirección e inesperados.

Señala como ejemplo de evento de Cisne Negro los ataques del 11 de septiembre, entre otros. Taleb, The Black Swan, Second Edition, Penguin, 2010, Prologue p xxi

Dr. Roberto Pereyra is a retired rear admiral in the Argentine Navy and senior professor at the Inter American Defense College.

HACIA DONDE VAN LAS ARMADAS

By Dr. Roberto Pereyra Bordón

En este breve artículo pretenderé resumir mi pensar sobre el porqué de las armadas, su necesidad y su futuro.

Cuando un ciudadano piensa en el mar, lo ve su vastedad, y en su mente aparece un horizonte, pero lo que naturalmente no percibe es lo que está más allá de éste, probablemente no piense lo que ocurre en su subsuelo, en su lecho, en sus profundidades y en su superficie.

Probablemente, también ignore las obligaciones que los estados, como tales tienen en múltiples áreas, como ser la salvaguarda de la vida humana en el mar.

El mar es en si mismo relevante, porque dos tercios de la superficie del planeta está cubierta por agua[1]. El hemisferio Sur, posee solamente un 19%  de tierra y el Hemisferio Norte, posee un 39%.

La importancia de los mares y los océanos en la vida del hombre, como fuente de recursos y de unión es una verdad en sí misma, que no merece ser analizada, ni cuestionada. Basta sólo pensar que mas del 60% de la población mundial vive sobre las costas.

En América, como en el resto del mundo las “necesidades de los pueblos, sus cargas”, se transportan por via marítima, siendo el mar el que permite la creación de grandes autopistas, que nunca colapsan, que no tienen cortes y que no se ven afectadas por la actividad humana[2].

Es conveniente resaltar que en el tema transporte marítimo existe a nivel mundial (institucional) una permanente atención, en tal sentido, el Secretario General de la Organización Marítima internacional sr. Efthimios Mitropoulos, en relación al Día Marítimo Mundial 2005, dijo: “vivimos en un mundo globalizado que se sustenta en una economía globalizada, economía que no podrá funcionar de no ser por los buques y el sistema del transporte marítimo[3]

Tal como mencionan Keohane y Nye[4]  vivimos en un mundo de poder e interdependiente, en tal sentido, prácticamente ninguna nación puede afirmar que es autosuficiente, ya que existe, en términos genéricos una “dependencia mutua[5]”.

Los recursos son cada vez mas escasos en una población mundial que crecerá cuatro veces desde 1950 al 2050, nos debemos entonces preguntar, dónde están los recursos y cómo los trasladaremos hacia nuestros paises, si es que no los tenemos, seguramente mayoritariamente será por via marítima, esto hace que ésta variable no cambie.

Éste mismo análisis, sobre la utilidad del mar,  es hecho por quienes desde una perspectiva oscura tratan de efectuar negocios ilícitos de todo tipo.

Multiples amenazas se ciernen sobre el escenario marítimo, si alguien no las toma en cuenta los estados serán cada vez mas vulnerables en su interior producto del descuidar sus mares.

Los descubrimientos de petróleo en el mar, cada vez son mas importantes, recordemos la Amazonia Azul de Brasil, también no debemos olvidadar las presentaciones que los estados están haciendo sobre su plataformas continentales.

Siguiendo nuestro hilo conductor, y pensando en el para qué de una marina, miremos que sucede ante un gran cataclismo, ante la aparición de un evento tipo cisne negro, tema que fue descripto por Nassim Nicholas Taleb[6] en su libro con el mismo nombre, si nos preguntamos  quienes están en capacidad de trasladarse, quienes tienen la capacidad apoyar al país hermano, que no tiene un aeropuerto a donde aterrizar, las armadas generalmente siempre pueden llegar, los medios marítimos preparados adiestrados, dan respuesta. Vasta pensar en Haití, 2010. Las marinas fueron quienes dieron el punta pie inicial y lograron el restablecimiento de las vías de comunicaciones, brindado primeros auxilios y estableciendo un sistema de comando y control adecuado a la emergencia.

Una marina que puede desplegarse de una  parte del  globo a otra para proteger sus intereses, también es capaz de hacerlo para asisitr a sus propios connacionales cuando éstos, en su propio territorio, se ven afectados por catástrofes.

La capacidad de trasportar hospitales flotantes, de ser  el primer socorro ante una emergencia son valores que podrán ser no considerados como tales, pero que no pueden negarse como una capacidad del estado ante emergencias o necesidades propias.

Por otro lado tampoco debemos olvidar el concepto fundacional que tuvieron las armadas, cuantos de los países del hemisferio han desarrollado zonas inhóspitas debido al esfuerzo abnegado de las marinas que se ocuparon en abrir rutas navegables y asegurar el abastaecimiento a territorios casi olvidados.

La globalizacion ha generado y aumentado la vinculación internacional y las marinas no se han quedado atrás, ejercicios internacionales, permiten compartir vivencias, experiencias, aumentar la capacidad de trabajar en equipo y de poder constituir a futuro una posible fuerza naval internacional, que hoy en el hemisferio de se ve plasmada en multiples ejercicios internacionales navales, con multiples nombres y denominaciones segun los paises que intervienen. Ejercicios que dejan nutridas agendas de lecciones aprendidas.

Las marinas, seguirán los mandatos que sus autoridades civiles dicten, se reducirán, se reorganizaran o podrán desaparecer, independientemente de lo que suceda, nada cambiará o podrá negar la realidad, de lo que significa no contar con una marina o contar con una marina ineficiente o inpoperante, ello implica no comprender la real magnitud del escenario mundial en que vivimos, donde lo importante son los intereses de los estados, y siempre estos podrán ser apoyados desde el mar.

Para concluir, me gustaria resaltar que percibo una clara falta de comunicación del quehacer naval y marítimo a la sociedad, que la necesidad del mar no decrecerá, como tampoco decrecerá el uso del mar como elemento utilizado para actividades ilícitas, y que el mar es el canal generalmente idóneo para el apoyo ante emergencias propias y de otros países.

Finalizando, sólo nos damos cuenta de la importancia de  alguien-algo en el momento que no podemos contar con el, cualquier lector habrá pasado por esto,  pues entonces tratemos de que estó no nos ocurra.

1]N. del A. Las referencias numéricas fueron obtenidas del CURSO “INTERESES MARÍTIMOS ARGENTINOS”- Ciclo 2005. Centro de Estudios Estratégicos de la Armada

[2] N. del A. Por lo general, aquí tendremos que hacer una excepción con la piratería y el terrorismo marítimo.

[3] MITROPOULOS Efthimios, Obtenido del Texto del discurso del Secretario General de la OMI, en el Día Marítimo Mundial 2005. Titulado “el transporte marítimo internacional vehículo del comercio mundial”.

[4]KEOHANE R & NYE J, Poder e Interdependencia, la política mundial en transición. Colección Estudios Internacionales. 1ª Edición. Editor Grupo Editor Latinoamericano. 1988, p 22. Traducido por Franco Heber Cardoso Power and Interdependence, world politics in transition.  Editor Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

[5] Ibidem

[6] Taleb se refiere a casi todos los grandes descubrimientos científicos, hechos históricos, y logros artísticos como “cisnes negro”, – sin dirección e inesperados.

Señala como ejemplo de evento de Cisne Negro los ataques del 11 de septiembre, entre otros. Taleb, The Black Swan, Second Edition, Penguin, 2010, Prologue p xxi

Dr. Roberto Pereyra is a retired rear admiral in the Argentine Navy and senior professor at the Inter American Defense College.

Maritime Coordination and Inter-American Cooperation in the South

By Sabrina Medeiros

When the Inter-American Defense Board created the Maritime Coordination Area for the South Atlantic in 1959, cooperation had a different scope for enhancing maritime security and promoting Maritime Domain Awareness. Nevertheless, the changing scenario as late as 2015 shows a dedicated reinforcement of protocols and regimes to guarantee that states can cover the actual vulnerabilities that challenge maritime transportation and security. Naval Control of Shipping is one of the main problems for the development of a region such the Americas and cooperation agreements have been playing an important role to permit states have the same guidance and work together to deal with the remarkable difficulties around security of the transnational commerce.

In that sense, controlling variables that may threaten maritime situation awareness is one of the aspects that are commonly included in the hemisphere regional organizations, but also, specialized ones as to make inter-agency work at a lower level, based on strengthening protocols and the valuation of common standards. In this respect, the Americas have been from the various types of organizations, some dealing with a necessary institutional renewal, others looking for the complex agenda states are involved in. In addition to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance – signed in 1947, Rio de Janeiro – theCDMALogosome decades ago projected a plan for the inter-American defense coordination of the maritime traffic (Plan para la Coordinación de la Defensa del Tráfico Marítimo Interamericano – PLANDEFTRAMI, 1959). The CODEFTRAMI substituted the first plan by the end of 1996 and it has divided the areas into four groups: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific. Whereas differently oriented, the process of institutionalization was effective for the Atlantic South Area, called AMAS (Área Marítima del Atlántico Sur), that was formed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

The Coordination for the South Atlantic Area (CAMAS) would have a biennial rotated command occupied by one of the members from the highest Navy authority (a position currently alternating among Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). At this point we might ask what is the key position such an organization has nowadays based on the fact that multidimensional tasks are taking place. Although helping to create a sense of developing both technical systems and institutional capabilities, AMAS is still a step back compared to forums where different agents can contribute to the success of a variety of circumstances, legal arrangements and diffuse actors. Also, its public visibility is short, with a limited confluence to the regional approach on borders reinforcement and security.  A coverage  to the cited gap could be the CAMAS proposal on promoting cooperation with ZOOPACAS Organization, to enhance cooperation reaching the area bordering Africa (Uruguay, XXVI Reunion de COLCO). Considering the multidimensionality of those efforts, one of the main causes for the diminishing interest in promoting institutionalization is how the lack of capabilities and resources affects the management of correlated institutions in crossing themes and areas.

The Comisión Permanente del Pacífico Sur (CPPS), built after the Declaración de Santiago, 1952, is an example of this eventual overlapping compromises that fall onto some of the other regional engagements in course, proposing itself on behalf of the Seguridad Integral Marítima, an even broader understanding of maritime security. While focused on maritime sustainable development more than security and the use of maritime routes, the CPPS played an important role helping Chile and Peru, both founding members, provoke diplomatic discussions on the maritime limits harmonization in the South America Pacific, and clearly is a way to deal with the main topics that the Pacific South and North Maritime Areas inside CODEFTRAMI could ultimately cover. Furthermore, CPPS has done a memorandum of understanding with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that enables it to join the international maritime regime as a legitimate observer actor, as well as did ALADI (Asociación on Latino-Americana de Integracion), CARICON (Caribbean Community) and OAS (Organization of American States) in the Americas.

Then, the CAMAS initiative has still an important responsibility in the South Atlantic and it still can be the best means to improve South-South Cooperation, as it can even command the maritime area if members decide. As the way to integration has been from micro-level agency cooperation to the macro-level of state’s foreign relations institutions and vice-versa, we can state that the multidimensionality paradigm may become the next source of CAMAS tasks on the region. Correspondingly, this can guarantee a better participation in other forums whenever the level of cooperation is open to other nations from inside or outside of the continent. A good example is the combined exercise for maritime control (Ejercício Naval de Tráfico Marítimo), named TRANSOCEANIC Exercise, which is being held over years together with Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and South Africa, and can clearly provide protocols and common guidance to the other actors and common platforms.  CAMAS also participate annually in the COAMAS exercise and the biannual TRANSAMERICA Exercise (as part of Plan CODEFTRAMI), where there are other Americas countries together with AMAS members:  Mexico, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. For better and constant communications, recent improvements that can be cited include the already implemented system called REDE AIS DA AMAS, from where protocols and cases can be shared to partners.

One trending topic that can be cited as a way to articulate the different locus of technical cooperation and, ultimately, stirring accountability on maritime security is also deepening communication standards. Over time, communications has been a central topic when considering the possibilities of maintaining security with the prevalence of states’ authority in its respective area. That is how technical cooperation has been built in the South America zone making possible arrangements that fulfill needs and commit exchange of information based on equivalent systems. Guaranteeing that those institutions be maintained and integrated as observers in each other’s initiative is a way to boost cooperation without losing focus and the micro-level decision making process. A sub-regional seminar on surveillance systems is a good example, as proposed this year to Brazil by IMO (International Maritime Organization) and counting as members on the Portuguese speaking countries of Africa and, as observer, the South Atlantic Area Coordination and the Guinea Gulf Center for Maritime Security.

One of the results that could be part of the initiatives above is the recognition of a transition from controlling to cooperating, which not only was proposed by NATO on its willingness to approximate the commercial shipping community, but also can be seen in the South America as a prevailing policy. When talking about outcomes, there is also a consciousness that regional integration in the macro level has in someway helped those micro-agencies projects succeed, when domestic political actors would reinforce that direction.

Sabrina Evangelista Medeiros is a professor at IADC-OAS (Washington, DC), Programa de Pós-Graduação em Estudos Marítimos – Escola de Guerra Naval and PPGHC-UFRJ (Brazil).  She received a PhD in Political Science at IUPERJ and her main area is international cooperation and reputation.