Disi Rela Initiative Marks Successful Collaboration Between Australian Border Force and Sri Lanka Coast Guard

The Disi Rela initiative, a collaborative effort between the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG), concluded on a successful note, showcasing the commitment of both nations to enhancing maritime security. The week-long program, which aimed to address various maritime challenges, including people smuggling and drug trafficking, highlighted the importance of cooperation and information sharing in combatting illicit activities at sea.

Named "Disi Rela," meaning "keeping a watchful eye over the maritime environment," the initiative saw participation from key figures for the opening ceremony and media conference, chaired by Mr. Paul Wesley Stephens - High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka, Rear Admiral Pujitha Vithana - Director General of the SLCG, Commander Mark Whitechurch - Deputy Commander Joint Agency Task Force and Rear Admiral Nishantha Peiris - Director General Operations of Sri Lanka Navy (SLN). The opening ceremony and media conference held at Taj Samudra Colombo set the tone for the week's activities, emphasizing the shared goal of ensuring maritime security in the region.

Following the ceremony, participants had the opportunity to witness firsthand the capabilities of the SLCG, including drone technology utilized for coastal surveillance and its tracking and fire detection systems. A familiarization sea phase near coast of Colombo aboard the SLCGS Samaraksha provided insights into operational procedures and the challenges faced in safeguarding Sri Lanka's coastal waters.

The program continued with an intelligence fundamentals course and a strategic communications workshop, offering officers from the SLCG, SLN and Sri Lanka Police valuable training in identifying maritime security threats and effectively communicating with the public. Community engagement events held in Dickovita, Negombo and Chilaw further reinforced the message of shared responsibility in safeguarding the maritime environment.

A highlight of the initiative was the establishment of a dedicated hotline (041-750 14 00), allowing members of the community to report suspicious activities to the SLCG around the clock. This initiative highlights the importance of public participation in combating maritime crime and reinforces the collaborative nature of Disi Rela.

Commanding Officer of the SLCGS Suraksha - Capt Prasad Vithanage, Director Training of SLCG - Capt Charitha Gunawantha, Director Operations of SLCG - Capt Ashoka Weerasekara, Defence Adviser for the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka - Colonel Amanda Johnston, Commanding Officer of SLCGS Samaraksha - Cdr Banu Abeygunawardane, First Secretary (outgoing) ABF - Superintendent Brett Zehnder, First Secretary (incoming) ABF - Inspector Paul Edwards, ABF Inspector Vanessa Ruff and other senior officials from both the ABF and SLCG actively participated in the various programs, highlighting the commitment of both organizations to the success of Disi Rela.

As Disi Rela concludes, with strengthened partnerships and enhanced capabilities, both the ABF and the SLCG are poised to tackle future threats, ensuring a safer and more secure maritime environment for all.