Story by Glenn Sircy
DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (NNS) – Marcia S. Bernicat, U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, visited Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS), and served as the guest speaker for its Strategic Level Small Craft Combating Terrorism Course (SLC) graduation ceremony Sept. 2, 2015.
“Today, we celebrate the conclusion of a four week course, in which the United States and multinational militaries have again made strides to counter violent extremism and piracy in international waters. This training is another critical step forward in enabling maritime security forces to build upon its maritime capacity and capabilities to counter terrorist and transnational threats,” said Bernicat.
A total of 15 officers from four partner nations, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Morocco, and Sierra Leone, graduated from the collaborative multinational-level course.
The four-week course was designed on a premise outlined in the SLC Counterterrorism Course Workbook: “Maritime small craft forces exercise unique capabilities, access, and influence in riverine and coastal areas world-wide 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.”
“Courses such as the Senior Leaders Course are vital – where U.S. institutions co-train with international partners to support everything from disaster relief to ensuring global peace and security,” added Bernicat. “While governments use force to clamp down on militancy, force must be coupled with efforts to address these underlying socio-political conditions, structures and grievances that make individuals and communities vulnerable to radicalization. This is a balance every nation fighting extremism must find – and what makes senior level courses like the Strategic Leader’s Course, so important.”
The SLC 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.
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.
“Besides introducing our students to both the necessity and the complexity of working in a joint agency environment in order to defeat terrorist, narcotics, and human trafficking threats, our Strategic Level Small Craft Combating Terrorism Course affords a unique collaboration between officers across many partner nations to openly discuss how they would tackle these same issues given their own cultural, fiscal, and/or asset constraints,” said Cmdr. Clay Pendergrass, commanding officer, NAVSCIATTS.
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.
In closing, Bernicat shared, “Trust and mutual respect, shared common goals and values, listening and learning from each other, and a commitment to each other’s success, are allowing us to achieve so much more than we could alone. As leaders of your maritime domains, you are an important part of these valuable international partnerships, entrusted as stewards of peace and security both at home and abroad. We are grateful for your service, and for the important contributions you make every day to enhance regional security, and to create a more peaceful world.”
NAVSCIATTS is U.S. Special Operations Command’s International Center specializing in mobile and in-resident training across the tactical, operational and strategic spectra 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.
For more news from Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School , visit http://www.navy.mil/local/navsciatts/.