Story by Mr. Glenn Sircy
JOHN C. STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Fifteen officers from four partner nations participated in a collaborative national and multinational-level counterterrorism strategy development exercise Aug. 18-21 during Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School’s (NAVSCIATTS) 13th iteration of its Strategic Level Small Craft Combating Terrorism Course (SLC).
The officers represented their countries of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Morocco and Sierra Leone. The objectives for the officers during the SLC exercise were to (1) gain a functional understanding of a proven strategy development model; (2) develop national and multi-national counterterrorism strategies using all elements of national power; (3) return to their countries with an improved working knowledge of counterterrorism strategy development, an increased appreciation of the importance of protecting and promoting human rights, and a clear understanding of the role of small-craft forces in achieving strategic level counterterrorism objectives; and (4) return to their countries with a draft counterterrorism strategy they may expand upon.
“This is the first time we’ve offered this unique partner nation exercise in this course and the most important reason these officers came together was to interact, communicate, understand and earn the trust and respect of each other so that we can all build, shape and maintain stronger strategic relationships around the globe,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kerry Jackson, executive officer, NAVSCIATTS. “The overall counterterrorism collaboration between the 15 officers from the four partner nations was truly an ideal opportunity to have these nations work together to strategically help each other develop and solve similar and different counterterrorism issues in each other’s countries.”
The partner nation officers participated in the exploration of the importance of understanding one’s operational environment, the requirement for building multi-faceted counterterrorism organizations, and the important role of leadership in successful counterterrorism campaigns. The various methods, experiences and collaborative exercises were supported and facilitated by experts from the U.S. Department of State, retired U.S. flag and general officers and the academic community.
The experts shared their unique counterterrorism experiences and knowledge with the officers, and then collaboratively worked case studies focused on counterterrorism strategies and methods for combating terrorism in their own countries. The case studies encompassed: an analysis of a national security strategy and national policy; an analysis of how terrorism and terrorist groups threaten national security; end-states or conditions that were achieved due to the success of the counterterrorism strategy; ways through which the desired state was achieved; and means or capabilities, people, and resources by which ways were facilitated.
“NAVSCIATTS’ counterterrorism strategy development exercises, instruction, discussions and templates offered during this course were enlightening and will greatly help me create and staff a counterterrorism strategy for my own country of Cameroon,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bernard Kak, with the Cameroonian Navy. “The professional knowledge and methods offered by the visiting experts were vital in helping our class focus on and better understand strategic level counterterrorism objectives for our own countries.”
The SLC course is four-weeks and was designed on a premise in the SLC Counterterrorism Course Workbook: “Maritime small craft forces exercise unique capabilities, access, and influence in riverine and coastal areas worldwide that host complex strategic level challenges that are exacerbated by a dynamic mix of migrating populations, environmental stress and growing resource competition. Operating in the world’s increasingly important littoral areas, small craft forces also interact day-to-day with the most critical element of successful counterterrorism campaigns – people. It is therefore imperative that leaders of maritime small craft forces understand how their daily operations, actions, and activities impact and achieve strategic level counterterrorism objectives.”
“Strategy development is a ‘team sport’ and as these officers recognize, it requires participation by all elements of national power. Our instructors and facilitators have been impressed by the honesty and sincerity exhibited by the officers as they worked through the development of national and multi-national counterterrorism strategies. Through this exercise we strip away a good bit of the cultural bias and misunderstanding that often challenges cooperation and by working through the real issues and real conditions faced by our individual countries we find common ground and new options for working together.” said retired Capt. Robert Gusentine, USN. “The understanding and relationships forged in this course contribute directly to the growing network of partner nations who are aligned against violent extremism and who are actively cooperating to promote inclusive and stable societies around the globe.”
Since the first iteration of the SLC course in July 2010, officers from all over the world have continued to gather for honest collaborative discussions of shared challenges, and thereby continue to develop relationships and common ground between partner nation militaries. The SLC alumni network now reaches across all continents and facilitates the sharing of information and the dedicated “gardening” of partnerships, relationships and friendships between the U.S. and our international partners.
At times, the interaction of students in the SLC course has proven beneficial in countering extremism, piracy and criminal activities. For example, during one SLC course, an officer from Europe was talking about a port security issue and an officer from South America responded that ships from that same port were entering his country. That SLC exchange marked the start of a multi-national anti-smuggling effort. Many SLC alumni also remain in contact with the NAVSCIATTS staff regarding professional matters such as technology development and training opportunities.
NAVSCIATTS is U.S. Special Operations Commands’ International Center specializing in mobile and in-resident training across the tactical, operational and strategic spectrums strengthening partner nation capabilities and capacity. NAVSCIATTS training engagements help develop, shape and maintain strategic relationships with diverse partner forces. By harnessing these vital relationships, this enables the protection of the investment and advances the interests of the United States and its partner nations.
NAVSCIATTS currently offers 20 courses with an average of nearly 1,000 personnel graduating from in-resident and mobile training events annually. Since 1963, nearly 11,000 students from 113 partner nations have graduated from NAVSCIATTS. Courses are offered in English and Spanish or in other languages through the use of translators.
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