15 May 2015
THE upcoming Imdex Asia, a maritime defence exhibition and conference, to be held in Singapore next week from May 19 to 21, is one of Asia’s most important showcases for regional naval capabilities.
However, while considerable attention is paid to the buildup of navies in and around the South China Sea (SCS), a lesser-known but equally critical story has been the growth of regional paranaval forces – that is, coast guards and other civil maritime services.
These so-called “white hulls” have been increasingly used to enforce maritime rights – particularly Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) in these two seas – and patrols by such forces have been both more frequent and, in some cases, more aggressive.
There is no commonly accepted definition of what constitutes a “coast guard”. In general, they are maritime security services that fall somewhere between navies (which are oriented for warfare) and law enforcement agencies (ie, transportation police), although most coast guards have armed ships and undertake limited law enforcement duties.
… The writer is senior fellow and coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 18/11/2015