Bakamla Proposes Optimization of ASEAN Coast Guard to Address Violations in the South China Sea

WIO EN – In an effort to address the escalating violations in the South China Sea (SCS), The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency Bakamla proposes optimization of ASEAN.

Rear Admiral Irvansyah, has proposed the optimal utilization of Coast Guard vessels from ASEAN countries. This proposal comes as a response to the increasing activities of violations predominantly carried out by civilian vessels in the region.

According to Rear Admiral Irvansyah, speaking at a webinar organized by Indonesia Strategic and Defence Studies on Tuesday (19/3/2024).

The increased presence of Indonesian Navy warships in the SCS may not always be the appropriate solution. “For defense in the SCS, we don’t necessarily have to prioritize the Navy. Because what we are facing mostly are civilian vessels,” he expressed.

Irvansyah highlighted that Vietnamese fishing vessels, Chinese Coast Guard ships, and other civilian vessels are the main perpetrators of violations in the region. Therefore, in response to this situation, Bakamla proposes to prioritize the role of ASEAN Coast Guard.

“Vietnamese fishing vessels, Chinese Coast Guard ships, and other vessels are mostly civilian vessels,” he clarified.

Bakamla has been in communication with the Coast Guard of several ASEAN countries, such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Irvansyah emphasized the importance of cooperation among ASEAN Coast Guards in addressing violations in the SCS.

“We believe that to ease tensions in the SCS, if the military is deployed, tensions tend to escalate,” he asserted.

In the context of regional cooperation, Irvansyah believes that strengthening cooperation among ASEAN Coast Guards can be an effective step in addressing violations in the SCS.

“Domestically, we believe that in peacetime, the Coast Guard can be deployed and backed up by the Navy in the North Natuna Sea,” he said.

However, Irvansyah also pointed out that a military approach may escalate tensions in the SCS. Therefore, Bakamla leans towards a more collaborative and diplomatic approach in addressing issues in the SCS.

“Perhaps in peacetime, the Coast Guard can be deployed and backed up by the Navy in the North Natuna Sea,” he clarified.

Bakamla is also strengthening its cooperation plans through joint exercises among ASEAN Coast Guards to safeguard the SCS. Irvansyah emphasized the importance of joint exercises, cooperation in education, capacity-building training, and other efforts.

“With joint exercises, cooperation in education, capacity-building training, and so on,” he stated.

The Head of Bakamla also announced that ASEAN Coast Guards will conduct joint exercises to safeguard the South China Sea.

“In joint exercises, cooperation in education, capacity-building training, and so on,” he added.

In the context of an increasingly complex geopolitical situation, the South China Sea (SCS) has become one of the hotspots constantly monitored by the international community.

Disputes over territorial claims between several neighboring countries have led to escalating tensions in recent years.

Coast Guard vessels have become a vital component in maintaining security and stability in the SCS. Compared to warships, Coast Guard vessels tend to have a more law enforcement-oriented approach and maintain peace in the waters.

The main tasks of the Coast Guard include patrols, monitoring, and law enforcement in the waters under their jurisdiction.

Therefore, prioritizing the role of ASEAN Coast Guard in addressing violations in the SCS demonstrates a more adaptive and effective approach to addressing the evolving situation in the region. Through regional cooperation and capacity-building, Coast Guards from ASEAN countries can work more efficiently together to monitor and enforce laws in the SCS.

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