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Tag Archives: maritime security

Defence IQ’s CABSEC speaker to complete Iron Butt Challenge

iron butt 2Tim Manhire, who spoke at our Caribbean Basin Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Summit (CABSEC) on the European Union’s SEACOP programme is taking part in a charity fundraiser – the Iron Butt challenge. As those who met him at the conference may know, he was the lucky recipient of a kidney transplant 9 years ago and a life-long Harley enthusiast. He is taking part in this charity event with his mate Adey, who survived a heart attack.

They will be riding to every Harley Davidson Dealer in England and Wales in a 6 day round trip. The journey starts in Southampton heading for Plymouth and visiting 26 Harley dealers covering over 1500 miles ending back in Southampton. All of the donations will be split 50-50 between their 2 charities.

If you are interested in donating to these two worthy causes, or reading about their personal stories in more detail please visit

Our forthcoming AFSEC conference will follow on from the CABSEC conference that Tim spoke at and will be held in Iron butt challengeCasablanca on the 25-27 February 2014. CABSEC focused on the drug routes out of Latin America, through the Caribbean Basin to North America and Europe.

AFSEC – the African Nations Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Summit will look at where these routes make land fall on the other side of the Atlantic and make their way into Europe. The conference will also look at other regional specific issues around transnational organised crime, terrorism and piracy to deliver a high-level strategic summit focused on regional security priorities. If you would like to register your interest for this conference, please email the team at

Information Security Threats – Round Up From The 5th Hemispheric Security and Intelligence Forum

By Alex Stephenson, Defence IQ’s man in Brazil

What breaks a company is lack of money, not lack of management or leadership. The same applies to criminal gangs. Imprisoning individuals is almost completely ineffective compared to denying a criminal organisation the proceeds of their activity. Concerning narcotics, one method is to interdict air, sea and land cargoes of substances – an alternative is to prevent the flow of the financial incentive in the other direction. No one sells a product if they cannot receive payment. A complete approach to narcotics includes both these elements.

But, there is a crime more profitable than narcotics. The sale of unknown vulnerabilities in computer software to criminal organisations who can exploit these weaknesses either to cause damage or steal intellectual property. So significant is this threat that it was contextualised as the threat of the modern era, paralleled by the nuclear threat of the cold war. A cyber threat to remain potent needs to remain unknown and then deliver chaos. An explicit parallel to the Hiroshima bomb; a capability unknown until it was deployed was drawn.

Linking both cyber security threats and counter narcotic threats I understood there to be three key takeaways:

  • These are evolving risks, much like a game of chess they require continual attention, calculation and execution.
  • Simplistically there are two approaches that can be used in tandem; tackling the problem and tackling the incentive – money makes the world go round
  • Finally, the importance of sharing information, helping partners and collaborating.

This last point is perhaps the most important. Too often perhaps there is a concern about sharing information about a problem. Perhaps this is because there is a national sensitivity around admitting there is a problem. However, if it is happening on your patch it is probably happening on your neighbour’s and by working together the intelligence picture becomes more complete and hopefully solutions begin to appear.

It is a great privilege for me to be able to attend this conference by kind invitation of USSOUTHCOM and the Brazilian Ministry of Defence. Later during this weeklong conference I will be delivering two presentations, one to the Caribbean Regional Intelligence Conference and one to the Central American Regional Intelligence Conference. The subject of this presentation will be the Caribbean Basin Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Summit 2013.

Strategic Briefing: The ‘Pivot’ to Paradise

By Yousuf Malik, Defence IQ

This summer we saw a succession of maritime disputes involving China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines over a few scattered uninhabited rocks in the South and East China Sea. On the surface these little rocks have little to offer, but whoever controls sovereignty over these rocks also controls a 200 mile radius exclusive economic zone. The reason for all this hostility, experts say, is vast reserves of oil in those waters.

cabsec picture 1More than 10,000 miles east of the South China Sea or 18 hours non-stop by plane lies the Caribbean Basin. Think Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and what comes to mind is idyllic white sandy beaches, cocktails and time spent doing as little as possible. What almost no one knows is that this sleepy part of the world is about to receive a lot of attention from the United States, Canada, the European Union and an increasingly powerful Brazil, not to mention, China which has been quietly buying influence in the region. Analysts say it’s because of oil. This doesn’t sound as far-fetched as we know there is oil in the Gulf of Mexico (remember the BP oil spill?) and vast reserves just off the coast of Venezuela. Oil has replaced tourism as the largest contributor of GDP in nearby Trinidad & Tobago. Brazil, further down south, has huge oil reserves rivalling the Middle East about which Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, remarked that this just proves that “God is Brazilian”.

If you’re in the business of surveillance, whether it’s fixed wing, rotary or coastal sensors, AIS based maritimecabsec picture 2 information systems, secure data and communication networks that can pull and push information from US, NATO and Latin American sources. Or interdiction through fast patrol craft, small OPVs, etc. – or maritime security in general – there is there is a bonanza coming up in the 24 nations that comprise the Caribbean Basin. As there is no regional consensus on how to approach common surveillance and security problems, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide related advice, counsel and training. The ‘pivot’ to paradise has just begun.

There are other reasons for this. The Panama Canal is about to undergo an unprecedented expansion that will double its capacity allowing for a huge increase in sea trade that passes through the Americas spelling a massive increase in trans-shipments. In the backdrop of increased sea trade, and heightened pressure on the powerful criminal networks of the drug trade, they could lash out in revenge and could be disruptive and so must be controlled.  This is why senior military experts, heads of navies and coast guards, ambassadors from the United States and the European Union are meeting in Curaçao from the 12th to 14th of March 2013 at Defence IQ’s CABSEC 2013 summit.

The event is focused on the coastal surveillance and Counter-Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking (CNIT) requirements of the Caribbean Basin and features a Focus Day on counter-narcotics. There is also a visit to the nerve centre at Parera Naval Base where information from the a vast surveillance network is monitored and disseminated, and a world-class 2-day conference that will enable you to get to know the decision-makers and influencers in the region while getting current with the geography and relationships in preparation for upcoming requirements.

If you’re interested in attending, you can download the agenda here

If being a sponsor or exhibitor is more up your street, you can send us an email at

What does it take to become a maritime security expert?

Guest post for Defence IQ by Fred Burns

Maritime security is a fascinating, and sometimes dangerous field that requires specific training and licensing. It will require you to become trained in preventing sabotage or subversion, and in identifying terrorist threats that might threaten the security of the individuals or shipments you are protecting. As a Maritime Security Officer, you’ll deal in insuring security in port, onboard, and for personnel and facilities.


Quite a lot of maritime security companies will only recruit ex British Royal Marines or Royal Navy that possess past ship service and specific anti piracy experience. But in the event that you become trained via a professional organisation the training for becoming an MSO is varied and fascinating. You will learn personal survival techniques. This will be both for survival in hostile natural environments and in connection with hostile personnel as well.

You’ll also learn basic firefighting. This will be crucial onboard ships and in dock. You will not only be responsible for assuring the safety of the ship, but of the crew as well. Therefore, you’ll be trained in personal safety.

Social responsibilities are crucial for the MSO, as you will be exposed to the public in many instances and will need to know how to conduct yourself as a security officer, but to recognize threats as well.

You will become proficient in handling different weapons. This includes hand held weapons such as various pistols and knives, but in heavier machinery such as the AK47.

A MSO will need to be able to administer first aid in a hostile atmosphere, and to assess the need for oxygen and defib.

You will be certified in radio communications and in radar, as well, and will receive certification in risk management.


Members of your group will turn to you is crisis that include medical emergencies. Therefore, your ability to administer front line first aid will be crucial. The main purpose of first aid is to prevent death or further injury. As the MSO, you will evaluate situations requiring medical first aid, administering CPR, stopping bleeding, and hooking up oxygen for those who need it. You will learn how to help a person who is being asphyxiated, or who is going into shock. You’ll also learn how to relieve pain. In most of the situations in which you’ll find yourself, there will probably be a medic onboard. However, it is crucial that you are trained to assure the health and survival of those to whom you have committed to protect.

Another level of medical certification is the Hostile/Hazardous Environment Medic. This is a more advanced certification that will train you in the handling or moving of an injured person, along with basic life support. You will learn how to use suction, extricating trapped persons, and field treatment in such trauma as burns, heart attack, and fracture. You’ll learn cannulation, cricothyrotomy, and chest decompression.


You will first be trained to use the Browning long-trac rifle and Glock. Aiming techniques such as breath and trigger control will be taught as well as firing from different positions such as standing, prone, shooting from cover, and kneeling. Your experience in small arms will aid you in your job as an MSO.


Fred Burns has been working in the defense industry for many years. He currently works for a company that supply access to training courses and jobs in security in the UK.

Managing the maritime security risks in the Caribbean basin

By Alex Stephenson, Defence IQ

If risk can loosely be defined as a combination of factors including threat, vulnerability and impact then it is time to take strategic notice of the Caribbean region.

An increasingly vicious war on drugs taking place on mainland Central America is gradually pushing criminal activity offshore. Demand for drugs – in particular cocaine – in Europe and North America results in illicit trafficking through the Caribbean region. The fear is that increasing gang violence may spill over from the land into the maritime domain.

The small island nations have limited resources and interest in acting beyond their immediate territorial waters. The solution lies in cooperation among nations and in particular the larger regional players; USA, France, Netherlands and, increasingly, Canada. However, legal obstacles to operating in territorial waters of other nations remain, as do gaps in radar coverage and information sharing. Policing such a large geographic area must be intelligence led and this requires an integrated approach.

At the same time economic growth in Latin America is making the region an increasingly important transhipment hub for goods flowing back and forth to the US and European markets. Disruption of these important sea lanes will have an ever increasing impact on the region and world trade as the volumes of cargo increase in line with economic growth.

The risk has been noted and work continues to shore up security capacity in the region. Obstacles and challenges remain; ratification of the Regional Maritime Agreement by various nations remains elusive meaning that coastguards and navies in pursuit of suspect vessels are unable to cross maritime borders into other nation’s territorial waters. Lack of capacity often means there is not another vessel available to continue the chase on the other side.

Regional cooperation and collective security institutions are almost certainly the answer to the maritime security question in the Caribbean. This would allow the region to maintain individual nation’s sovereignty through collaborative actions rather than having to rely on the United States to police the region. It is certainly in the interests of the US, Europe and others to fund institutional capacity building in the region as up-stream narcotic interdiction is by far the most cost-effective and efficacious way of keeping drugs of their streets.

With the Joint EU-Caribbean strategy 2013-2020 for the region currently being drawn up and many other nations including Australia, Canada, Brazil and China showing an interest in the region this is a key time for regional security cooperation and capacity building.

This post was written ahead of Defence IQ’s Cabsec 2013 conference, taking place in Curaçao from 13 – 14 March 2013. To find out more, view the conference agenda.

What do you think about maritime security efforts in the Caribbean region? Is enough being done? Let us know what you think in the comments section or email us at

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