HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard recently hosted the Pacific Quadrilateral Defense Coordinating Group from Oct. 9 to 11, 2023, focusing on enhancing maritime security in the Pacific.
The meeting gathered leaders from Australia, France, New Zealand, the United States, and the Forum Fisheries Agency. Rear Adm. Michael Day, U.S. Coast Guard District 14 commander, emphasized the importance of this collaboration, particularly in the context of regional challenges such as climate change and security.
"These face-to-face meetings and continued cooperation among our nations are not just strategic imperatives; they are lifelines to the people of the Blue Pacific,” said Day.
He further highlighted the impact of this collaboration, emphasizing the human element and recognizing the responsibilities of the larger nations in the Pacific, “We acknowledge the historical context, and while we do not seek to rewrite the past, we are committed to a future where the sovereignty and livelihoods of Pacific Island Countries are safeguarded. Climate change, followed by regional tensions, looms large as challenges we all face, and our shared responsibility is to address these threats. Our commitment to combating illegal fishing and ensuring maritime safety is not just about security; it's about ensuring a sustainable and secure future for the communities who call the Pacific home."
The Pacific QUAD was established in 1998, and brings together defense and security agencies from Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States in a mutual commitment to partnering with the Pacific Island countries to collectively enhance regional security.
During the meeting, discussions covered various topics, including their annual report, training programs, tactical calendar, information sharing and support for the Forum Fisheries Agency operations. Additionally, three new principals joined the group. Brig. Gen. Yann Latil (France), Air Comm. John Haly (Australia), and Brig. Gen. Andy Shaw (Aotearoa New Zealand).
The Pacific QUAD's mission is to combat illegal fishing in the Southwest Pacific and collaborate closely with Pacific Island nations. The group operates at both a strategic and operational level, with annual and biannual meetings, respectively.
This year, examples of their collaboration included: an agreement with New Zealand, joint gatherings and strengthening cooperation with Australian Maritime Security Advisors, a successful search and rescue operation, and an international mass rescue exercise, highlighting the positive impact of their efforts on regional stability and maritime safety.
The Pacific QUAD, consisting of New Zealand, the United States, France, and Australia, annually rotates its principal chairmanship position as part of its collaborative approach. Last year, Air Commodore Darryn Robert Webb of New Zealand handed over the role to Rear Adm. Michael Day, who has now passed it to Brig. Gen. Yann Latil, the commander of French Forces New Caledonia. Latil is expected to transfer the responsibility to Air Commodore John Haly, the Australian Joint Operations Command, Director General Operations and Plans (J3), next year. This rotation underscores the ongoing commitment of the Pacific QUAD nations to regional stability and cooperation.
“After a very successful meeting in Honolulu this year, I am happy to take over the American coordination of the Pacific Quad’s work and I look forward to hosting my fellow principals and their teams in Noumea next year,” said Brig. Gen. Yann Latil, the commander of French Forces New Caledonia.
U.S. Coast Guard District 14, covering a vast area in the Central and Western Pacific, plays a crucial role in maritime safety, resource protection, security and national defense through partnerships and international engagement.