It is absolutely terrific to be here with you and the partnership has been truly exceptional, including bringing in the USS Bulkeley into port as well as hosting the Coast Guard and Marine Corps demonstration teams here. So thank you very much.
And in a larger sense, we anticipate this summit to grow as well as the U.S.-Cabo Verde defense relationship, in keeping with our memorandum of understanding that was signed last year at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Additionally, we look forward to supporting your partnership with the National Guard of the great state of New Hampshire.
I'd like to recognize all the African Heads of Navy, Coast Guard and Naval Infantry in attendance today. We truly appreciate your desire to be among the almost 40 nations assembled here at this inaugural Summit.
Our agenda over the next three days is intended to facilitate an exchange of perspectives, including those of our European partners in attendance France, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as our Atlantic partner, Brazil.
Let me preview the agenda for you. Our key theme is “Security at Sea Enables Stability Ashore.”
We'll examine this theme from three perspectives:
First, are the benefits of a blue economy.
Second, are the threats to that blue economy. The threats to maritime security.
And third, are collective actions to preserve that blue economy in our maritime security.
The first perspective focuses on the blue economy and the benefits it brings to coastal nations in the form of access to the global market, jobs and businesses, offshore oil and gas, and shipping and fishing. This perspective will also explore the links between defense and development. From the American side, we have asked Ms. Barbara Hughes from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to share her insights on the first panel. As many of you know, USAID invests in development programs and fisheries, small business development, women peace and security, and youth employment across the continent.
The second perspective includes the various threats to maritime security such as piracy, illegal fishing, drugs and arm trafficking, sabotage to offshore oil and gas platforms, and the destabilizing impacts of violent extremist organizations.
The third perspective relates to international action to achieve maritime security, enhance coordination and build true interoperability. We understand the consistent investment required to battle these threats effectively.
To combat similar threats, we in the U.S. have developed tri-maritime service plans—Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy; and processes to leverage the global maritime operational threat response command center and garner interagency attention on key maritime threats. We will ask the regional groups on day three to discuss their frameworks that supports information sharing and collective action at sea. We'll consider how countries share information today, how well this is working, and how African navies may operate together in the future. So again, these three perspectives all contribute to our understanding that Stability at Sea Enables Security Ashore.
The past 12 of years my command, U.S. Naval Forces and Africa, has worked with you and your maritime services in combined exercise series, known as Express — Cutlass Express, Phoenix Express, and Obangame Express.
Together, we built the relationships central to trust. And on that foundation of trust, we together have built shared awareness in the maritime domain needed to enable our navies to operate together when desired, or as required by common threats, like piracy and illegal fishing.
There are great examples of this collective action now underway between African navies, including Operation Copper on the East African coast; the joint task force against piracy between Nigeria and Benin in the Gulf of Guinea; combined patrols between Seychelles and Mauritius; and West African fisheries patrols centered out of Senegal.
And so the key outcome of this summit will be to advance our interoperability even further; to bolster those efforts that I have listed; and to expand the zone of governance, security and peace into your territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
And with this key theme in mind and these three perspectives, I look forward to illuminating discussion during our days together.
And again, I'm very much honored and privileged for all of us to be here in Cabo Verde, which is arguably the most maritime nation in all of Africa, if you compare their landmass to the amount of waters they're responsible for, so I can't think of a better place to have done this very first summit.
So again, thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you all.