Exercises are perhaps the most powerful training tool available to prepare personnel, administrations and governments to confront the vast spectrum of maritime safety and security challenges presented by today’s complex world. As the famous Russian Field Marshall Suvorov stated, ‘What is difficult in training will become easy in battle!’

The engagement of the CRIMARIO II Project in training activities covers the full range of actions. At the most basic level, our trainers provide instruction to operators in various centres on the basic skills required to gather, analyse and exchange information effectively. CRIMARIO also facilitates the conduct of national exercises that bring together personnel from various agencies to collectively face challenges in a benign environment and learn lessons and techniques that will improve their response to real-world emergencies.

Conducting regional exercises

Building on these national training activities, CRIMARIO has just conducted a first regional exercise, CRIMASREX 21.1, in cooperation with the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). Running over 3 days, this activity brough together personnel from the Comoros, France (La Reunion), Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles and also involved the two Regional Centres, the RMIFC in Madagascar and the RCOC in the Seychelles. External evaluators from CRIMARIO and the Regional Centres observed the exercise to document the actions undertaken and prepare feedback on its conduct.

Participants were presented with a complex, rapidly-evolving scenario that involved multiple vessels reporting crew members struck down by an unknown illness. As the exercise progressed, additional information was injected and was analysed and distributed by participants to further their understanding of the situation and shape their actions. Issues such as the provisions of medical assistance, the evacuation of critically-ill crewmembers and the containment of what could have been an infectious disease were considered and simulated responses were detailed. As the situation was gradually brought under control, the scenario was further complicated by two aircraft crashes in the region which required immediate responses and strong international cooperation. The lessons learnt during the conduct of this exercise will be discussed between participants and used to implement improvements in operational responses across the region.

Participating in exercises with partners

CRIMARIO also slots into exercises conducted by partners across the region. Perhaps the most significant of these is the US AFRICOM-led Cutlass Express, a 2-week live exercise involving 18 countries conducted off the eastern African coast. CRIMARIO’s IORIS platform provides the communication and coordination layer throughout activities and links the various command and domain awareness centres that participate. Now gaining importance are the CARAT-series of bilateral exercises conducted by the US Navy 7th Fleet with states across South and Southeast Asia. Our participation includes training on and the use of the IORIS platform in support of communications, the delivery of presentations on various aspects of maritime law and the facilitation of expert participation in discussions related to Women, Peace & Security (WPS). Our team has already been involved in exercises involving Thailand and Sri Lanka and we are preparing to engage with Bangladesh, Brunei and the Philippines.

As the CRIMARIO II Project continues to expand its activities, our involvement in training exercises across the Indo-Pacific region will remain an integral part of our engagement.