Pacific protection paramount in counter proliferation

Published on Department of Defence (author)

Topic(s): HMAS Cairns, HMAS Toowoomba (F156), Exercise PACIFIC PROTECTOR

HMAS Toowoomba departs Sydney Harbour in June 2017 (photo: POIS Yuri Ramsey)
HMAS Toowoomba departs Sydney Harbour in June 2017

The Australian Government is joining forces with countries from around the world to conduct Exercise PACIFIC PROTECTOR, as part of an ongoing major international commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials.

The exercise will be held in Cairns, Queensland from 6–9 September 2017 as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is an effort by 105 partner countries to build networks, tools and capabilities to counter illicit weapons of mass destruction-related trade across the globe.

Participants will take part in academic sessions, a table top exercise, a subject matter exchange training program, a live exercise and demonstrations that will facilitate the sharing of intelligence, enhance quick decision-making processes, and deploy capabilities to conduct interdictions that will increase the capacity of countries within the Indo-Pacific.

The live exercise will comprise Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Toowoomba, a Japanese P-3C Orion aircraft, and a Queensland Police vessel in a scenario that will involve the tracking of ships suspected of carrying materials related to weapons of mass destruction. Components of the activity will also be held at the HMAS Cairns Navy base.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said Australia takes its responsibilities very seriously to ensure the security of the Indo-Pacific region.

“We need look no further than North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs to understand the consequences of failing to prevent proliferation activities.  Pyongyang’s provocative and dangerous behaviour in continuing to test nuclear weapons only serves to heighten our sense of purpose in stopping proliferation,” Minister Payne said. 

“The Australian Government is very pleased to be working with our regional partners to enhance our ability to conduct and coordinate counter-proliferation operations.  Trade security is a vital concern in the Indo-Pacific, given that the region hosts major trade routes, transhipment hubs and ever increasing volumes of global trade.

“Exercise PACIFIC PROTECTOR 2017 sends a clear signal to all proliferators that their activities are being monitored and that Proliferation Security Initiative participants are prepared to take action to stop them by enforcing national and international law.”

Twenty countries will be participating: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Fiji, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam. India will also be observing this exercise as a non-endorsee of the Proliferation Security Initiative.