The (US) National Strategy for Maritime Security clearly states that the basis for effective prevention measures – operations and security programmes – is awareness and threat knowledge, along with credible deterrent and interdiction capabilities. Without effective awareness of activities within the maritime domain, crucial opportunities for prevention or an early response can be lost.
Awareness grants time and distance to detect, deter, interdict and defeat adversaries, whether they are planning an operation, or are en route to attack or commit an unlawful act. Forces must be trained, equipped and prepared to detect, deter, interdict, and defeat terrorists throughout the maritime domain. In addition to this strategy, the US Department of Homeland Security developed the National Response Plan, which depicts eight supporting plans to address the specific threats and challenges of the maritime environment.
Principles of maritime security
Like all other countries, the United States is highly dependent on the oceans for its security and the welfare of its people and economy. The National Strategy for Maritime Security has three broad principles. The First, ‘preserving the freedom of the seas’ is a top national priority. The free, continuing, unthreatened intercourse of nations is an essential global freedom and helps ensure the smooth operation of the world’s economy.
The second is to ‘facilitate and defend commerce to ensure this uninterrupted flow of shipping.’ As a major trading nation, our economy, environment and social fabric are inextricably linked with the oceans and their resources. And third, we must ‘facilitate the movement of desirable goods and people across our border, while screening out dangerous people and material.’
In 2005, Congress directed the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to submit a report regarding the feasibility of establishing a maritime and port security training programme at the Charleston, South Carolina, training campus. The goal to establish the FLETC-Charleston as the Center of Excellence for Maritime Law Enforcement and Port Security Training was firmly based on its venue – and availability of maritime training resources – which include a port, intermodel facilities, and piers situated on the Cooper River. FLETCCharleston’s assets hold tremendous strategic training advantages.
In conjunction with major shipping channels, container terminals, related port support operations, and numerous other rivers and riverines nearby, a wide range of classroom instruction is enhanced by practical hands-on scenario-based training for students. In November 2005, FLETC-Charleston met the requirement and instituted the revised Seaport Security and Antiterrorism Training Program (SSATP) at the Charleston site.
The interest by Congress to enhance the quality of port security training available to Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies garnered support to conduct the SSATP at most major ports in the United States since its development. Several foreign export programmes have been conducted in support of the US.