By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo July 19, 2018 The Peruvian Navy took part in the Maritime Security Regimes Roundtable 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia, April 24th-25th. The Andean country moderated a working group of the maritime conference that exchanged international experience and best practices in the naval field. The Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence (CJOS COE), one of 24 centers accredited by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), hosted the third edition of the event under the theme, Exploiting Synergies to Improve Delivery of Global Maritime Situational Awareness. A total of 150 representatives from navies, regional organizations, and companies involved in international maritime development attended the event. More than 25 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and the United States participated. The Peruvian Navy was the only South American institution with a lecturer at the forum. “Maritime situational awareness is the effective understanding of anything related to the maritime domain that might affect the economic security or the environment,” Royal Canadian Navy Captain Dermont Mulholland, director of Strategic Planning and Policy at CJOS COE, said during the event. “The meeting made it possible to identify challenges to improve the establishment of maritime awareness throughout the world.” The goal of the forum was to promote cooperation and capacity building for combined and joint operations from the sea. The mission is to guarantee that current and emerging challenges in global maritime security can be addressed successfully, as well as leverage the synergies of the international maritime community to facilitate a more effective exchange of information. “Forum participation is important to build bonds of cooperation, which enable the exchange of information and structured combat to counter common threats,” Vice Admiral James Thornberry, general inspector of the Peruvian Navy and roundtable participant, told Diálogo. “The fight against threats represents one of the main pillars of our mission to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country’s rivers, lakes, and maritime spaces.” Agreements reached During the conference, participants identified and shared best practices, identified vulnerabilities and new threats, and improved trust among institutions through interpersonal relationships. Participants also set to conduct the forum annually instead of biennially to enable better interaction and promote trust. “Peru showed that no country or agency has all the information required for effective situational awareness,” Vice Adm. Thornberry said. “Countries need to collaborate to exercise control of maritime spaces, since a large number of agencies—with different scopes and capacities that need to be aligned for greater effectiveness—confront multiple threats.” Lack of information, local legal limitations, resistance to exposing one’s vulnerabilities, communication gaps, lack of technological standards, and obsolete equipment and systems represent obstacles to optimal cooperation. Participants agreed to depoliticize cooperation, identify relevant agencies, balance information exchange, and promote agreements for cooperation and equal treatment. Systematic approaches The maritime forum allowed participants to discuss main common threats at sea: piracy, terrorism, smuggling, environmental pollution, as well as drug, arms, and human trafficking. Together, they stressed the importance of maritime situational awareness, as information about operations at sea is crucial to execute any strategy against threats. “The fight against threats would fail without information and maritime environmental awareness,” Vice Adm. Thornberry said. “Addressing threats from a strictly repressive perspective in a maritime environment can be ineffective to solve problems.” Among the conference’s main takeaways was the “need to maintain trust, the most important component of which is interpersonal relationships,” Cap. Mulholland said. “Building trust is the basis on which cooperation should be established for effective interoperability,” Vice Adm. Thornberry added. The 2019 edition of the roundtable will take place at the headquarters of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command in the United Kingdom.