Officers from the six nations taking part in exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) work together at the Changi Command and Control (C2) Center in Singapore, Aug. 27. (Photo courtesy of the Singapore Ministry of Defense)

SINGAPORE - The 11th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise commenced Aug. 27, with liaison officers from the United States, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand tracking contacts of interest in a maritime interdiction scenario.

SEACAT highlights the value of information sharing and multilateral coordination within scenarios that give participating navies hands-on practice in maritime interdiction operations (MIO). The weeklong exercise includes both a three-day command post exercise at the Multinational Operations and Exercise Center and a four-day field training exercise at sea.

During the at sea phase, the U.S. Navy rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) is serving as a simulated vessel of interest, and will be tracked by liaison officers on land, at sea, and in the air. These liaison officers will work with their U.S. counterparts to share and discuss MIO tactics, and develop interception plan options. Safeguard will be boarded at sea by several participating navies.

U.S. P-3 aircraft deployed to 7th Fleet will locate training contacts of interest for various boarding scenarios, and conduct real-world maritime domain awareness missions. A team of trainers from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training will evaluate boarding exercises, sharing best practices with their host nation counterparts.

"This exercise is about strengthening coordination and interoperability among all six participating navies," said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) and U.S. lead for the exercise. "SEACAT provides unique opportunities to observe multiple partner navies and share best practices in ways that matter during real-world operations."

SEACAT, which began in 2002 under the name "Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism," was renamed after the 2011 exercise to reflect the growing desire for increased coordinated training between the U.S. Navy and its partners, and among regional partner navies.

COMLOG WESTPAC is 7th Fleet's theater security cooperation agent for Southeast Asia, promoting military-to-military relations and coordinating exercises such as SEACAT and nine annual phases of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.