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  • By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Coast Guard task force teams up with Palau's Narcotics Enforcement Agency

U.S. Marines and Sailors with Task Force Koa Moana (TF KM) 20, I Marine Expeditionary Force, wave from a distance to their friends and family as they depart San Diego, July 2020. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anabel Abreu Rodriguez.

Koror -- A cool mist is often refreshing and welcome on a hot, humid Palauan afternoon – unless the mist is oleoresin capsicum. That fact was quickly realized by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, attached to Task Force Koa Moana 21, and the Palauan Narcotics Enforcement Agency during a subject matter expert exchange that took place in Koror on Sept. 3. The exchange involved classes on handling oleoresin capsicum, or OC spray, levels of escalation and how to defend oneself if the chemical is used on them. More than that, the training also supports the development of partner-nation capabilities for self-supported operations, which is a primary mission of Task Force Koa Moana 21. “For us on the front line and dealing with illegal substances, this training is very helpful,” said Nicholas Aquino Jr., a special agent with the Palauan Narcotics Enforcement Agency. “This training will help us be safer.” The exchange also offers members of the task force opportunities to learn from their Palauancounterparts. Building on this shared understanding of maritime law enforcement allows both sides to share knowledge and best practices, which is used to better the tactics, techniques, and procedures of both parties. “I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work with other agencies and see how they operate – to teach what I know and learn from what others may offer,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Casey Seminavage, a machinery technician with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deployable Specialized Forces, which are attached to Task Force Koa Moana 21. “Learning from others gives us opportunities to do better.” This is a sentiment felt by the Palauan agents as well. “The training opens our minds,” said Aquino, who has served in customs for 18 years, with nearly eight of those years being with the NarcoticsEnforcement Agency. “It gives us new techniques and tactics that we can apply to our job.” This exchange was just one of several exchanges planned in support of Task Force Koa Moana 21. Task Force Koa Moana 21 has provided opportunities to work with explosive ordnance disposal teams, medical professionals, and humanitarian assistance organizations. There are also additional exchanges planned with the Coast Guard, something Aquino and the Coast Guard are wanting to continue.

.“I’m looking forward to working with the Coast Guard,” Aquino said. “They have been helping us for a long time. It’s good to have their assistance. Anytime they come, it’s like a refresher.”

The Coast Guard members hope the exchanges continue as well.

“Being face-to-face helps build that bridge and have a better understanding of each other,” Seminavage said. “I hope the training with the Palauanscontinues.”

Task Force Koa Moanais designed to strengthen and enhance relationships between the U.S. and partner nations/states in the Indo-Pacific Region while remaining Covid-19 safe.

The task force has the unique opportunity and privilege of working with the Palau as a sign of the U.S. commitment to the people of Palau and its partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific Region. (Task Force Koa Moana 21)

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