By Busayo Onijala
The reduced piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is one of the evident successes of the Obangame exercise series, says Vice Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
Ishee made this known on Thursday in Lagos while speaking to journalists on the sideline of the in-port training component of the ongoing 2023 Obangame Express.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Obangame Express is a military exercise conducted by the U.S. Naval Forces Africa and sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command.
It is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western and Central Africa and the 12th edition with 33 participating nations, hosted by Nigeria, kicked off on Monday, in Lagos.
The exercise is also an opportunity for partners to work together to develop African-led solutions to shared transnational challenges and promote global security.
According to Ishee, Obangame Express has been on for a number of years and is a series of exercises that enhance maritime security.
“Obangame means together and I came here today to be together with our partners in the region, most notably the Nigerian Navy who is a leader in maritime in the region.”
He said that during the exercise, a variety of events would be practised, including boarding, and search and seizure, and the ability to conduct maritime domain awareness, not with just the Nigerian Navy, but with all of the partners in the region.
This, he said, would create a shared sense of maritime security in the region.
“We’re also looking at other transnational illegal activities.
“The exercise will practise things like illegal fishing, and the smuggling and trafficking of all kinds of things here will be items for the partnership that has been developed to improve their ability to counter,” Ishee said.
He applauded efforts by the Nigerian Navy and partners that came together for the exercise.
The commander said that the Nigerian Navy, being a leader of maritime in the region, was crucial to host the exercise.
One of the trainees at the exercise, Hermann Houngue, Chief Petty Officer, Benin Republic Navy, said working with trainers from U.S. Coast Guard and Nigeria had helped participants find different techniques beneficial to their sector.
“We’ve exchanged techniques peculiar to our countries and this has helped us determine what is good, bad and what can be improved upon.
“We’ve also learnt self defence techniques, how to protect ourselves against enemies and how to work together and progress on our job,” Houngue said.
NAN also reports that the exercise takes place across five zones in the southern Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Guinea – covering the West African island of Cabo Verde to the Central African shores of Angola, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). (NAN)
Edited by Oluwole Sogunle