Remarks by Colonel Craig Tippins at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Counterproliferation Awareness Course Opening Ceremony

October 5, 2015

Good morning His Excellency Hor Seanglim and other distinguished representatives from Cambodia’s National Committee for Maritime Security and U.S. representatives. I am proud to be here representing the U.S. Embassy at the start of another event focusing on maritime security and our deepening cooperation with Cambodia and the National Committee for Maritime Security.

Seeing the room of participants from the various elements of NCMS and the Royal Cambodian Government assures me that the coming week will be a productive one. You will discuss subjects relating to border security and import and export control, which are of great importance in this area that hosts both Cambodia’s key international port and the nation’s primary tactical headquarters for maritime security.

Driving around the Sihanoukville area, one sees many reminders of what this coastal region provides Cambodia. Stacks of containers of imported and exported goods coming and going at the port, the many hotels and guest houses that attract tourists to share the beauty of this area, and countless restaurants featuring local seafood are only a handful of examples of how this location on the Gulf of Thailand benefits the economy and livelihood of Cambodia. Assuring that these kinds of activities are protected under Cambodian law and can continue to run smoothly and safely under the regulation of the Cambodian government is part of what brings us together this week.

Unfortunately, the same waters that enhance Cambodian prosperity can also bring danger and attract criminal and terrorist enterprise. Border security includes knowing who is in Cambodian waters, what they are doing, what they might be bringing or taking with them, and whether they are authorized to be there. Danger on the water might just mean a fishing vessel having trouble in rough seas and needing assistance, but sometimes it involves finding and stopping criminals trying to bring in contraband like drugs, conducting human trafficking, or attempting to move a hijacked vessel. Worse yet, terrorists also utilize the seas, and in a worst-case scenario they might even use them as a way of moving weapons of mass destruction.

The experienced U.S. team is here to discuss international and U.S. case studies with you relating to these kinds of border security and import and export control issues, and to share best practices that have been successful in addressing them. I hope that all of you as members of NCMS and as representatives of the Royal Cambodian Government will find the activities of the coming week useful in becoming better at carrying out your duties.

In closing, let me assure you that I believe continuing cooperation between Cambodia and the U.S. can make the Gulf of Thailand a place better able to provide prosperity to Cambodia both through its natural resources and beauty, and through its ability to serve as a connection to the global economy. I wish all the participants here great success in your future professional endeavors. Thank you.