14 Navies Attend Regional Commanders’ Conference
The Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, hosted 14 of his counterparts or their representatives in Darwin for the inaugural Regional Commanders’ Conference to discuss maritime security and interoperability in the Asia-Pacific.
The high level discussions between navies fostered international partnerships while sharing innovative approaches on how best to meet the challenges shared by all nations.
The forum heard from leading strategists before discussing advances in unmanned systems, intentions for operations in shared sea lanes, and how navies collectively respond to piracy and smuggling activities across national boundaries.
Rear Admiral Mayer said while sharing ideas was an important part of the forum, the primary goal was to build trust among the 14 nations that attended.
“The presentations have been particularly interesting, but the true success of the day can be measured by the conversations generated around the table,” he said.
“Rather than seeing these talks as purely an academic exchange, they are a means of starting a conversation about issues which have relevance worldwide. The conversations are what are going to build understanding and forge relationships that provide regional stability to us all.”
Australian academic and Asia Pacific expert, Professor Michael Wesley, opened the conference with a presentation on the shifting regional strategic order and contemporary regional issues.
Commander of the United States 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, followed with a talk on emerging trends of unmanned military systems. Commander of the Philippines Fleet, Rear Admiral Bayani R Gaerlan, also addressed the gathering about his country’s response to the threat of piracy.
This was the inaugural Regional Commanders’ Conference attached to Exercise KAKADU and will become a permanent feature in future years.
Exercise KAKADU is the Royal Australian Navy’s premier international engagement activity, developing interoperability between nations in the maritime and air domains, and providing training opportunities for maritime security and surveillance.
The Exercise runs until 24 September 2016 and will involve 19 ships and submarines, 18 aircraft and more than 3000 personnel from 19 Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean navies and air forces.