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Prepared Remarks of U.S. Embassy Branch Office Douala Principal Officer Stuart Wilson at Evening Reception for AMLEP/Obangame Express

March 18, 2016 at 10:35 AM UTC

U.S. Embassy Branch Office Douala Principal Officer Stuart Wilson’s Remarks at Evening Reception for AMLEP/Obangame Express March 12, 2016 Douala, Republic of Cameroon

Ladies and gentlemen, and honored guests. On behalf of Ambassador Michael Hoza and Chargé d’Affaires Matthew Smith, welcome to the USNS Spearhead. Thanks for being here.

Thank you, Captain Casavant, for having us onboard.

Tonight, we’d like to celebrate the military partnership between the United States and Cameroon. 

Let me start by saying a little bit about the Spearhead. Now, the sailors among us will already know this, but for the rest of us, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

The USNS Spearhead was christened a little over 5 years ago. She is the first ship in her class, what’s known as a “joint high-speed vessel.” She was designed to move troops and military equipment very quickly. As you can tell the body is aluminum, which makes it fast, flexible, and maneuverable -- even in shallow waters.

Tonight… we’re celebrating the completion of Operation Junction Rain, and the start of the Obangame Express military exercise. The Spearhead is participating in both of these events.

These two events illustrate our partnership with Cameroon, and they play an important role in keeping the Gulf of Guinea safe. 

Not too many years ago, maritime piracy was a serious threat here. Fortunately, today those same waters are safer, thanks to the joint efforts of U.S. and Cameroonian forces. 

Piracy, smuggling, and illegal activity threaten national economies. They threaten trade, commerce, and lead to other illicit activity and poverty. That is why it is so important for us to be proactive.

Operation Junction Rain, which we just completed, is an operation of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, or what we simply call “AMLEP.” The operation is sponsored by the United States military, and joins Cameroonian forces to conduct Maritime Security Operations. 

During their cruise this past week, the joint-teams looked for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, Piracy, and Smuggling of all kinds.

I’d like to echo the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard in congratulating the Cameroonian Navy for a very effective cruise and exceptional interagency cooperation. I’m sure we’ll repeat this success next year, when we’re back for another AMLEP cruise.

Now that AMLEP is finished, we’re looking forward to the Obangame Express exercise, which starts next week.  

Obangame is one of three African regional Express exercises and this is its sixth year.  It is sponsored every year by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the U.S. 6th Fleet, and is an example of America’s commitment to our partnership with Cameroon. I applaud the multinational efforts which make it possible. 

There are 10 African nations participating this year, and a total of 32 countries from around the Atlantic, all working together to ensure security off the shores of Western Africa.

Obangame Express and AMLEP are only possible through the hard work and dedication of the sailors who make these exercises happen. In order to keep the Gulf of Guinea secure, we need this commitment to continue. 

To all the military personnel here today, I thank you for everything you have done, and everything you will do to keep us safe. Thank you and welcome again.

As we say in French,On est ensemble!