COMBINED Task Force 152, responsible for maritime security in the Gulf, arranged for local Coast Guards and Border Police Forces from four countries to practice their dhow boarding techniques with the US Coast Guard (USCG). The collaborative work, where everyone involved shared best practice, involved practical scenarios to simulate real boarding events.
The personnel from the Kuwait Coast Guard, Kingdom of Saudi Arabian Border Force, Bahrain Coast Guard and UAE Coast Guard worked with the USCG in their purpose-built training facility in Bahrain. Here, the participants worked on their boarding procedures, and shared with each other what worked best. The training facility consists of a mock Arabian Dhow, containers that represent the inside of a ship and a matted area where opposed custody techniques can be rehearsed.
Petty Officer First Class Waldon, USCG, is impressed with the local forces: “We worked together as a team. For each scenario, everyone explained how they would prosecute the dhow. The team then discussed the plan and come up with a joint solution. I enjoyed working with people from different countries, it allows us all to share best practice.”
During the first week, everyone focused on developing the most efficient way of securing an individual who may be opposed to arrest. This involved practical work on the padded area. The scenarios becoming increasingly more complicated and challenging. During the second week the participants move inside ‘the ship in a box’. These are the metal containers that represent the inside of a ship. Petty Officer Walden enjoys seeing everyone progress and said: “In the ship in the box we have different situations and we see how everyone deals with them. It is all about identifying the threat possibilities and coming up with a solution to overcome them safely and efficiently. Work in the ship in the box is very physical; you have to be fit in this job.”
Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces (DCCMF), Cdre Steve Dainton, and Commander Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, Captain Saleh Alfordary, visited the facility to see how the joint practices were progressing. Captain Alfordary was impressed with performance of the local Coast Guards and US personnel, he stated: “The personnel from the Gulf States gain a lot from each other, their US Coast Guard colleagues and vice versa. This is a great training facility for everyone to have a go and see what works best for them. This is the first time we had all four Gulf countries training together, so it was really great to see how well it worked for everyone involved.”
Cdre Dainton really appreciates the USCG facility and said: “It is great to see the different nations’ forces working here. Many other CMF countries have taken advantage of these assets. I honestly believe that it has helped the recent successful boarding’s that have been conducted by CMF ships HMS Dragon of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Ballarat. We are very grateful to the USCG allowing us to use it.”
Addressing the various Coast Guards, Cdre Dainton added: “This is the first time I have had the pleasure of witnessing one of these sessions. I am very impressed with what I have seen. I know for sure that the waters of the Gulf will now be a safer place due to the training provided here. We hope to develop a more structured rhythm for all CMF countries to come and see for themselves the facilities that are available for training.”
The course was very successful. All concerned learnt a great deal during the two week period. Everyone went away more confident and with an enhanced skill set. Despite the physical aspects of the scenarios, where participants took it in turns to arrest each other, many lasting friendships were made. A total of 19 personnel from four different countries graduated from the course.