In the last two months, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), through Combined Task Force (CTF)150, has put a real dent in the funding of terrorism, with the seizure and destruction of 1.7 tons of illegal narcotics off the east coast of Africa. While the ships involved in these interdictions are a highly visible element of the war on terrorism at sea, there are other agencies that are working behind the scenes and alongside the sailors, to make it all possible; one such agency is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is a US federal law enforcement agency that protects and defends the Department of the Navy across a number of areas, and one component is the Transnational Organized Crimes Unit (TNOC). The TNOC operates with CMF partners in the regions of the Makran Coast, Horn of Africa, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in order to support counter narcotics, counter piracy and counter terrorism maritime missions.

Deputy Commander of Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Warrender, RN congratulated NCIS and the TNOC by saying:
“Once again CTF150 has struck a blow against the drug smugglers that seek to profit from illicit activities. This is another example of excellent cooperation between Headquarters staffs and our key law enforcement partners such as the NCIS who continue to provide CMF ships training, equipment and special agents to improve our ability to disrupt this trade, and all those that profit from it. NCIS is critical to our success”.

The teamwork between NCIS and CMF is exemplary, it starts at each operational cycle during the mission planning phase, where NCIS TNOC Special Agents, work alongside the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in conducting information exchanges and maritime domain awareness briefings for CMF personnel. TNOC Agents provide mission briefs and equipment demonstrations for boarding teams including demonstrations on the use of contraband detection kits and chemical analyzers as well as training in world’s best practice search techniques.

HMAS Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara, said: “the extensive training package that our ship and crew had undergone ensured Australia’s interoperability with CTF 150 would be effective from the outset.”

This teamwork then continues at sea, where TNOC agents embark in CMF ships to provide law enforcement expertise to the commanding officers. The interaction and teamwork recently produced substantial results with Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Newcastle and Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Te Kaha, intercepting several traffickers with a total of 1.7 tonnes of illegal narcotics and an estimated US street value of over $1.1 billion.

Supervisory Special Agent Gevonda Fenner of TNOC talks about the relationship: “The most gratifying part is working side by side with the young men and women of the Australian and New Zealand Navies. The Coalition Navies’ personnel are force multipliers for NCIS. This enables everyone involved to be focused on crew safety and the mission as a whole; ensuring successful interdictions.”

The partnership between NCIS and CMF has yielded unprecedented success, in an environment where the criminal elements are also working harder to conceal and smuggle their contraband.

CTF-150 is one of three task forces operated by the CMF, a multinational force comprising 30 nations, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters and encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.