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The National Maritime Single Points of Contact (NMSPOC) – Work-Study Visit to Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-West (JIATF-W) and the Narcotics Task Force (NTF)

18 - 28 Feb 2019

The National Maritime Single Points of Contact (NMSPOC) has been an agenda for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) since 2016. The idea is to have a single national joint inter-agency command centre which will be a focal point to obtain, collate, analyse and make sense of the information and carry out joint inter agency strikes in a calibrated manner through a joint inter agency force package. Joint meaning the combination of military services and inter agency a combination of law enforcement agencies.

The first ARF workshop on NMSPOC was held in Cebu City, Philippines from 28-29 April 2016 and the second in Kuala Lumpur 27-29 August 2018. The next ARF Workshop in Vietnam 12-15 March 2019 will discuss on NMSPOC.  The main idea is to develop a coordinated effort to be organized against organized crime. This could be done through regionalism.

Many ASEAN Members have already set up their own NMSPOC. Thailand - Thai-MECC, Indonesia-BAKAMLA, Philippines–NCWC, Singapore–NMSS, Brunei – NMCC, Cambodia-NCNS to name a few. Malaysia was the first to set up a Joint Inter Agency Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre (MECC) however with the formation of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the MECC has now been incorporated into MMEA. This has posed a challenge to some agencies to join the MECC.

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The United States Embassy recently sponsored a work-study visit for a delegation from the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and MMEA. The Team was facilitated by Capt. Martin A. Sebastian RMN, Senior Fellow and Centre Head, Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy. The visit started at the JIATF-W, Camp H.M. Smith, Honolulu, Hawaii. Photos were not allowed in JIATF-W.

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Fig 1: Entrance to JIATF-W. First Admiral Maritime Rozali (MMEA), CP Dato Sri Mohammad Salleh, Director Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID), DCP Dato Kang Tze Kiang, Ex Director NCID and Capt.Martin.

JIATF-W is a standing United States military joint task force with the mission of combating drug-related transnational organised crime in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. JIATF-West's area of responsibility is that of United States Indo-Pacific Command. The Malaysian delegation were given a series of briefings and exchanges during the three days stint which included real time operations that was ongoing. Work groups were formed for case studies and facilitation. A visit to the operations centre provided a glimpse of how joint inter agency information are acquired, collated, analysed and acted upon. The delegation was also taken for a tour to the Pearl Harbour Memorial site. Overall, the visit to JIATF-W was an eye opener for enhanced joint inter agency collaboration.

The delegation was later taken to the NTF in San Diego. Here they were briefed on how a joint inter agency outfit was tasked to address crimes emanating from the border. Briefings included completed and ongoing operations. A series exchanges was fruitful to address joint inter agency issues and how joint inter agency collaboration was successful in busting major crime syndicates and seizure of assets and funds from these syndicates.  

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Fig 2: Malaysian Delegation and NTF Staff. Briefings on NMSPOC.

The delegation were also taken to the joint inter agency strike units location which were at the US Coast Guard Base. Here a few exchanges on the complexity of terrain and porosity of borders were discussed.

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Fig 3: Briefings and visit to assets at USCG San Diego

In conclusion, the visit to the US provided an impetus to develop the NMSPOC for Malaysia with a view to have an independent fusion centre which can obtain, collate, analyse and make sense of the big picture. The idea for valuable information is to conduct calibrated joint inter agency strikes on targets to detect, disrupt, destroy and deter the logistics chain of crimes. Joint inter agency force packages comprising of military and law enforcement agency will be utilised to conduct these strikes in a calibrated manner in order to have successful conviction in busting crime syndicates be it on smuggling/trafficking, illegal fishing or piracy. Land-Sea nexus must be factored in order to enable government agencies to conduct their tasks more effectively. 

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