The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies completed the virtual Comprehensive Maritime Security Cooperation (CMSC) 21-1 module held June 14-17, 2021.

For 80 Fellows from 20 countries, this module was an opportunity to refresh regional awareness of the importance of maritime security. The event focused on maritime security in Southeast Asia, and looked at two challenges in the region. The first was the challenge to the rules-based international order in the South China Sea, and the second was the emerging security threat that climate change poses to the maritime environment of the region.

Two keynote speakers opened the module with their views which are informed by years of regional experience.

Ambassador Dr. Rizal Sukma of Indonesia, and Dr. Nguyen Hung Son of Vietnam, introduced the Fellows to maritime security in Southeast Asia. Their combined keynote addresses set the stage for a lively and interactive four days that culminated in hearing from the Fellows on ways to collaborate on a way forward to approach these challenges. The module was structured such that a day was devoted to exploring each of the two challenges.

The focus on climate change in the maritime environment featured a panel moderated by Dr. Ethan Allen of DKI APCSS, and panelists Mr. Scott Cheney-Peters from the U.S. National Maritime Intelligence Integration Office, Dr. Alberto Morales from the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, and Dr. Rod Schoonover who is Founder and CEO of Ecological Futures Group. The panel provided a view of the effects of climate change in the Southeast Asia, regional efforts to address it, and climate change as a driver of disaster relief.

The module also featured a panel that explored challenges to the rules-based international order in the South China Sea. Moderated by DKI APCSS’ Dr. John Hemmings, panelists included Dr. Jeffrey Ordaniel of Tokyo International University and Pacific Forum, U.S. Navy Capt. Kim McCann who is DKI APCSS’ operational law expert, and Ms. Jane Chan of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School in International Studies. This panel elucidated the complex and volatile situation in the South China and the danger it poses to the rule of law.

This event was unique in that it provided an opportunity for Fellows to determine ways forward in cooperatively addressing the challenges that were collectively studied. Their recommended approaches involved the use of technology, education, improved communication, training, and shared understanding of the challenges to build regional capacity. In approaching challenges to the rules-based international order, Fellows also recommended using existing forums to improve regional awareness and transparency, and imposing economic penalties on those breeching the rules. The Fellows also suggested that the nature of both challenges requires a proactive approach, because waiting to take action would result in a further decline of the region’s environmental and strategic situation.

“We take comfort in knowing that our fellows, all security practitioners, will be better equipped to engage in finding solutions to these challenges after this module,” said Prof. Wade Turvold, CMSC Module lead.

CMSC 21-1 also offered an innovative way for Fellows to obtain Alumni status. Because this virtual module was too short to offer alumni status, organizers instead developed a pilot program in which Fellows could volunteer to complete a Capstone Project to earn Alumni status. A total of 25 Fellows, engaged in nine individual projects and five cohort projects, took the challenge of completing their project within 10 months.

In the future, the CMSC Module series will become part of the Center’s newest course, the Comprehensive Security Cooperation (CSC) course. CSC will take the next step in advancing the Center mission to build resilient capacity, shared understanding, and networked relationships among civilian and military practitioners, and institutions to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.

CSC will provide a core curriculum, and will also offer specialty tracks to enable Fellows to concentrate on a specific discipline, like maritime security. The first CSC will be offered from Feb. – March, 2022, and Fellows will have the opportunity to select the Maritime Security Concentration, among others offered. In that way CSC will build upon the success of CMSC 21-1, and the Center will continue to advance maritime security through CSC.