This year marks the 13th iteration of the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (Seacat) exercise between navies of the US and several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Originally named Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism when first promulgated in 2002, this exercise was renamed in 2012 to reflect the complex and diverse array of maritime security issues in the region. Given the spate of tanker hijackings in the South China Sea, this expanded focus beyond counter-terrorism could not have been better timed.
While there have been a number of successful hijackings in the South China Sea more recently, Asean navies have demonstrated the ability to share information and undertake swift and decisive action to foil some attacks. Seacat information-sharing and coordinated response played a role even though Asean navies have long cooperated in maritime security issues.
… Justin Goldman and Koh Swee Lean Collin are associate research fellows at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies based in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. They are both Pacific Forum CSIS Young Leaders. This article originally appeared in the Pacific Forum CSIS Pacnet Series.