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Obangame Express enhances nations' capabilities
Obangame will officially kick off on March 23, 2017, when nations begin executing real-world scenarios. For the next three days, African countries are preparing for the exercise by participating in training with maritime forces from around the world.
The exercise is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, and is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.
“I certainly recognize the many complicated and diverse challenges this command faces every day across the vast African continent. It is up to us to bring forward creative and viable solutions to these challenges and view each one as an opportunity to work with and assist our African partners – not only today but in the future as well - in building a secure, stable and prosperous African continent.”
- Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Africa Command commander
“Maritime security is a collective effort, which is why Obangame Express is such an important exercise. The majority of the region's economic activities rely on the safe and lawful use of Ivory Coast waters. Obangame Express brings together and increases the collective ability of African, European, South American and U.S. maritime forces to address challenges that threaten the freedom and security of our oceans. This is accomplished through the use of real-world scenarios designed to increase the ability of Gulf of Guinea nations to deter piracy, illicit trafficking and other maritime threats. This exercise, in various forms and names over the years, has proven successful at increasing partner nations’ capabilities. I'm looking forward to once again working with our African partners to deter criminal activity at sea.”
- Navy Capt. Heidi Agle, Obangame Express officer in tactical command
“The most important thing is about three “ships” – partnership, relationship and friendship. As all of us work together, we establish these three ships during the exercise which will make it much smoother when we have to do it in real operations.”
- Dave Rollo, Maritime Domain Awareness manager, Naval Forces Africa
Obangame Express puts maritime security in the hands of nations to whom it matters most. Here are five things you need to know:
1. Exercise Obangame Express is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.
2. Participating nations include Angola, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
3. Obangame Express locations are throughout the Gulf of Guinea and in multiple areas at sea and ashore. At-sea operations will be conducted throughout the Gulf of Guinea. The largest footprint ashore will be in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. Numerous MOCs will be participating from ashore across the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa along with several international organization MOCs. An Opening Ceremony will be held in Accra, Ghana, and a Closing Ceremony will be held in Abidjan.
4. Obangame Express is scheduled to take place March 20-31 and encompasses an in-port Command Post Exercise and an underway Field Training Exercise in the Gulf of Guinea.
5. Obangame Express’ purpose is to create realistic scenarios that mirror past piracy incidents whereby a hijacked vessel will transit from one territory to another. Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) during the exercise will be challenged to recognize these illicit acts appropriately and share with other MOCs. Additionally, the exercise tests each individual maritime force to patrol their economic exclusion zones and detect and prosecute illegal activity, accordingly.
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