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NCIS, Belizeans Build Interoperability During Southern Partnership Station 2013

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS130312-04

By Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Stagner, Southern Partnership Stations public affairs

LADYVILLE, Belize (NNS) -- Agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Security Training Assistance and Assessment Team Atlantic (NCIS-STAAT-LANT) completed almost three weeks of training with members of the Belizean coast guard and police forces March 9.

The training, a part of Southern Partnership Station 2013, a 4th Fleet initiative designed to strengthen civil and maritime capabilities with regional partner nations in the Caribbean and Central and South America, included law enforcement techniques focused on observation and assessment, handcuffing, vehicle and personnel searches, building searches, rapid response and tactical movements.

"As our partnerships increase within this region and we continue to fight against narcotics and human trafficking, opportunities such as this become much more important," said Dale Harmon, NCIS-STAAT-LANT physical security specialist. "This area is one where understanding our joint tactics and the ability for us to work together seamlessly could mean the difference between mission accomplishment and mission failure moving forward."

Tom Krall, NCIS-STAAT-LANT physical security specialist and team leader agreed.

"Security is a necessary condition for economic prosperity and lasting democratic institutions," Krall said. "Opportunities for us to work together alongside our partner nation civil and military services, sharing ideas and professional expertise, will improve interoperability and enhance regional maritime security."

Observation and assessment might not appear to matter much on the surface, but to the people executing those tactics it could mean the difference between a criminal going to jail and going free.

"Many times there are crimes that take place in Belize that are never solved because the evidence is mishandled," said Belize coast guard Seaman Shanton Swaso. "The work we've done together here prepares us to combat that trend."

For the Belizeans who will continue to work against these trends, the time spent with American partners is tantamount.

"This is something we will have to do, and this partnership prepares us for that," said Belize coast guard Seaman Chad Johnston.

Belizean coast guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Merlon Alvarez agreed.

"It goes beyond our training," he said. "When the Americans come, I feel as though we truly become a joint force and a family."

COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

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