Philippines, U.S. conduct maritime security review

The United States government, through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), in partnership with the National Coast Watch System (NCWS), concluded July 15, its one-week review of facilities, equipment, and training programs provided to enhance the Philippines’ maritime domain awareness.

The in-depth review allowed DTRA to better understand the various aspects of the NCWS and further enhance DTRA experts’ knowledge of specific regional maritime security challenges through meetings with personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Coast Guard Weapons, Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems Command (CGWCEISC), and NCWS in Manila, Negros Oriental, Palawan, and Cebu. 

These site visits also enabled DTRA to witness the integration and cooperation between NCWS personnel and PCG District Visayas Stations and observe the effectiveness and condition of communication and sensor equipment to guide future upgrades for each site.

During a visit to the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) in Manila, DTRA briefed CGWCEISC Coast Guard Deputy Commander Arnoldo M. Lim on the outcomes of the visit which are expected to contribute to a more effective and capable NCWS.

“Our common goal is to achieve optimum maritime domain awareness,” NCWC Director Rear Admiral Roy Echeverria said.

“This review’s outcomes are critical because maritime domain awareness requires precise coordination and communication to execute the mission successfully. Optimal enforcement often requires cooperation between multiple agencies within the Philippine Government or foreign partners,” DTRA International Project Officer U.S. Navy Commander Bryan Kroncke said. 

“DTRA understands these requirements and is proud to partner with the Philippines, through the NCWS, to provide the tools necessary to address maritime security threats.”

A long-time partner of the Philippine government, DTRA played an important supporting role in establishing the NCWS. DTRA was responsible for constructing the NCWC in Manila, Regional Coordination Centers (RCCs) in Cebu and Palawan, and many other manned and unmanned sites around the archipelago. 

DTRA also worked closely with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Coast Guard Weapons, Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems Command (CGWCEISC) to ensure that the NCWS can meet current and future maritime security challenges. 

Since 2012, DTRA has provided more than $64 million to the NCWS for the acquisition of advanced equipment and the training of personnel, enabling it to become the premier maritime security entity in the Philippines.

“This successful review would not have been possible without the cooperation of NCWC and their impressive and professional personnel,” Commander Kroncke added. “DTRA looks forward to continue supporting the NCWS in their efforts to become a regional maritime security leader.”

Photo credit: A Philippine Coast Guard member working at the NCWS demonstrates vessel traffic monitoring.

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