02 November 2010

U.S. Strategic Interests and Cooperative Activities in Maritime Southeast Asia

John Bradford, U.S. Strategic Interests and Cooperative Activities in Maritime Southeast Asia,” in John Bradford, James Manicom, Sheldon W. Simon, and Neil A. Quartaro, Maritime Security in Southeast Asia: U.S., Japanese, Regional, and Industry Strategies, National Bureau of Asian Research Special Report #24 (Seattle, WA: NBR, November 2010), pp. 17-29.

Executive Summary

U.S. maritime strategy’s focus on building partnerships to execute both high-end hard power security missions and operations such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) and maritime security is well-suited for addressing important strategic issues in Southeast Asia.

Main Argument

The U.S. maritime strategy emphasizes the importance of building partnerships with a wide range of actors and specifically names the Western Pacific as a region where U.S. maritime forces will concentrate their attention. The strategic importance of Southeast Asian waterways dictates that these partnership efforts address security threats such as those posed by transnational criminals, terrorists, and natural disasters. Lessons learned from international cooperation in the Strait of Malacca demonstrate that such partnerships can be effective and inform current U.S. operations in maritime Southeast Asia. Given the shared priorities in U.S. and Japanese maritime strategies, a U.S.-Japan partnership affords opportunities to enhance cooperation on safety and security in Southeast Asian waterways.

Policy Implications

• Southeast Asia is a critical maritime region for commerce, communication, and resources.

• The U.S. maritime strategy is appropriate for addressing safety and security challenges in Southeast Asia.

• Lessons from the international humanitarian response following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Strait of Malacca counter-piracy cooperation demonstrate the effectiveness of maritime partnerships.

• Shared strategic priorities provide opportunities for the U.S. and Japan to cooperatively contribute to enhance maritime safety and security in Southeast Asia.

• Cooperation on HA/DR is an area where the U.S. and Japan should focus efforts. …