Strengthening partnerships through international training

Written by Lt. Marquesio Robinson and Lt. j.g. Abraham Sifakis

The Coast Guard's International Training Branch team stands with members of the Marshall Island Sea Patrol following graduation of the course. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard’s International Training Branch team stands with members of the Marshall Island Sea Patrol following graduation of the course. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Strengthening partnerships with foreign nations and enhancing their maritime defense capabilities are two key roles that the Coast Guard’s International Mobile Training Branch serves each and every day.

Recently, Coast Guardsmen completed an eight-week deployment, in which they delivered law enforcement training to 51 people spanning three nations: the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

The mission, which stemmed from the international partnership between Australian Defence Force and the Coast Guard Director of International Affairs and Foreign Policy focused on the continued expansion the Maritime Law Enforcement capabilities of these three nations.

The course delivered by the team covered a wide range of material, ranging from classroom instruction on various international laws to hands-on training covering boarding scenarios and defense tactics.

Lt. j.g. Abraham Sifakis demonstrates handcuffing techniques to a Marshall Island Sea Patrol student. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Lt. j.g. Abraham Sifakis demonstrates handcuffing techniques to a Marshall Island Sea Patrol student. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

And for the next eight weeks, the instructors would lead students in three separate countries through the rigorous and intensive course.

The team first arrived in Majuro, Marshall Islands, in mid-January to prepare for the course to instruct 13 members of the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol.

“Almost immediately, the students of the MISP impressed the instructors,” said Lt. Marquesio Robinson. “The attentiveness within the classroom was stunning. They displayed a unique desire to excel; consistently asking relevant questions and proactively participating in the classroom.”

The team then went on to Pohnpei, Micronesia, to work with Micronesia’s Maritime Wing.

“Training came naturally to the Micronesia’s Maritime Wing,” said Lt. j.g. Abraham Sifakis. “They were punctual, and legitimately interested in the training provided. Their impressive retention of the material and positive attitude enabled the instructors to not only complete the training, but build a close relationship with the students.”

The U.S. Embassy in Micronesia saw the importance, complexity and the level of international support of the mission. The embassy staff not only supported the training efforts, but was able to offer additional logistical support and even participate in some of the training. The team was able to coordinate a special training session with 17 members of the embassy’s security office.

The U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia, Dorothea-Marie Rose, and met with the team and extended her praise for the team’s efforts.

Following the completion of training in Micronesia, the team moved on to Koror, Palau.

Palau is home to approximately 20,000 people, and is known to most tourists as a world renowned destination for divers. What is relatively unknown, however, is the heavy responsibility placed on the shoulders of the maritime law enforcement branches, which are responsible for the coverage of over 1,500 kilometers of coastline.

In this particular nation, the team focused on strengthening the Division of Marine Law’s law enforcement capabilities.

Marine Law students from Palau conduct tactical concepts and procedures exercises as part of the Coast Guard's International Mobile Training Branch's course. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Marine Law students from Palau conduct tactical concepts and procedures exercises as part of the Coast Guard’s International Mobile Training Branch’s course. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

In just a two week course, the students took ownership of the class, excelling in the demonstration of proper aggressive response techniques, and completing their final boarding scenarios, said Sifakis.

Overall, the team witnessed many similarities between the three foreign law enforcement branches and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Even through limited funding, personnel and assets, our responsibilities are and will always be focused on maximizing compliance for all people and vessels falling within our jurisdiction,” said Robinson. “Every country has the legal right to guard their waters from illegal activity, in order to ensure a safe environment for recreational and commercial sailors, as well as protect ecosystem. This course is designed to give each student the proper tools to serve as effective maritime law enforcement officers.”

The Coast Guard's International Training Branch team stands with members trained in Micronesia, along with Doria Rosen, the U.S. ambassador to Micronesia, following the graduation ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard’s International Training Branch team stands with members trained in Micronesia, along with Doria Rosen, the U.S. ambassador to Micronesia, following the graduation ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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