“Since its 2009 formation, the TCU has established a reputation in the Middle East and East Africa regions as the premier maritime law enforcement subject matter experts,” said Sean Devinny, TCU division chief. “At the request of CTF-150 and Combined Maritime Forces, TCU agents provide briefings to command staff of new warships assigned to CTF-150. Agents also regularly provide pre-mission briefs to other U.S. and coalition navy entities.”
In the past year, the TCU has further enhanced its reach by conducting a seminar for the Republic of Korea ship Chungmugong Yi Sun-Sin, which regularly executes counterpiracy missions on behalf of Combined Maritime Forces. The seminar covered boarding, search techniques, hidden compartments often used to store illicit drugs and weapons, and tactical questioning. The TCU also recently met with regional directors responsible for the Indian Ocean and Afghanistan from the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency. They addressed strategies for combating transnational organized crime in those regions.
“From 2009 until 2015 or so, we pretty much focused on collecting intelligence and destroying the illicit narcotics we seized. Now, in the last couple years, we've really taken the focus more toward prosecuting these individuals,” said Devinny. “What we're trying to do now is work with the United States Attorney's Office or work with other countries in the region to prosecute them, although that process takes time because of the complex law enforcement and legal partnerships that must be solidified first. We plan to work hand-in-hand with countries throughout the entire process, to the point where these criminals are brought to court for trial.”
The Middle East Field Office also has access to a warehouse maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard that features a popular, traditional Indian Ocean sailing vessel that NCIS special agents and partners can use to simulate maritime security operations for training purposes.
“It's critically important that we work with our foreign partners,” said Traver. “Without their support, without their partnership, it would be virtually impossible for us to have the success that we've been able to attain over the last several years. ... It's a tremendous benefit not only to the United States and NCIS, but also our foreign partners.”
Editor's Note: Learn more about NCIS TCU here.