By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
ADM James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF), met with the Ghanaian Minister of Defense, Chief of Defense, and Chief of Naval Staff during a three-day visit to the country to attend the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC), July 22-24, 2019.
During Foggo’s visit, the senior leaders discussed maritime security and cooperation as well as future exercises and engagements in the Gulf of Guinea. The meetings reaffirmed the friendship and collaboration between Ghana and the United States.
“This conference and the contributions of Ghana’s Navy for the past 60 years demonstrate how far we have come as partners in Africa,” said Foggo, who gave remarks during a luncheon at the IMDEC. “I am honored to be with such a distinguished audience – the senior leaders who are committed to fostering continued security and progress in the maritime domain. It is precisely this continued progress that we advocate today.”
The discussions occurred in conjunction with the Ghana Navy’s 60th anniversary celebration and the IMDEC, which brought together more than 250 international senior officials from navies, coast guards, and marine police throughout the Gulf of Guinea, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. The focus of the conference was to promote maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and to enhance economic prosperity by addressing the trafficking of people and drugs, illegal fishing, and piracy.
“It’s especially fitting that we are in Ghana, a hub on the Gulf, to reflect and discuss our collective efforts in Atlantic Africa,” Foggo said. “The vast scale of the region and global importance of the challenge means we all have to work together to bring numerous countries, allies, coalitions and partners, international and regional organizations together to work side-by-side — shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Foggo discussed the importance of Africa today and Africa tomorrow, as the United Nations Population Division estimates the continent’s population will be approximately 2.5 billion people in 2050, with 60 percent being under the age of 24. He noted that the promise of prosperity in the continent is unparalleled and emphasized the critical importance of the seas, as 38 of the 54 African countries are coastal nations.
“Maritime security is critical for coastal nations for two reasons,” said Foggo. “First, seaborne trade is the lifeblood of global trade. When maritime trade freely sails across the oceans, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible. And second, maritime resources are the inheritance of current and future generations. Stewardship requires leaders who advocate and protect the maritime domain.”
In addition to hosting the IMDEC, Ghana also welcomed Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), July 21. The ship is deployed to the Gulf of Guinea in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS), which is the U.S. Navy’s second deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in 2019. Carson City’s APS deployment demonstrates progress through partnership and U.S. commitment to West African countries through small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement engagement, and medical and community relations outreach, which includes port visits in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde.
“These efforts highlight our common goal of enhancing maritime security and strengthening the vital institutions that enable economic growth and prosperity throughout the region,” Foggo said. “As you know, policing waters is more than just catching pirates or stopping illegal fishing. It’s a sovereignty issue and it’s the only way to preserve freedom of navigation and to maintain precious resources for future generations.”
Ghana has expanded its naval cooperation to adjoining nations. The Ghana Navy and Air Force joined the U.S. Coast Guard and Togolese Navy in June for Operation Junction Rain as part of the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP), where they conducted joint maritime law enforcement operations in the Gulf of Guinea. The ultimate goal for AMLEP is for African partner nations to conduct law enforcement operations independently of U.S. efforts and enhance their own maritime enforcement capabilities to improve the management and security of the maritime domain, promote the prosperity of local economies, and boost the quality of life for African families.
Additionally, Ghana participated in exercise Obangame Express 2019 in March, one of three annual NAVEUR-NAVAF regional exercises, which provides collaborative opportunities for African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns. In 2020, Ghana will be host nation for Obangame Express for the second time since the exercise’s inception in 2010.
“I am excited and confident Ghana will do a superb job when it hosts the 2020 exercise, even as the exercise has evolved and increased in complexity from where we began in 2010,” said Foggo. “This is a significant exercise in the region and Ghanaian leadership is appreciated.”
Ghana created its Navy two years after its Independence Day in 1959, committing itself to maritime security.
“I congratulate Ghana on 60 years of naval excellence and sponsoring a very successful forum,” Foggo said. “I anticipate many future joint efforts to enhance the maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.”
APS is NAVEUR-NAVAF’s flagship maritime security cooperation program focusing on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure. It consists of the various exercises and operations conducted by U.S., European, and African partners and allies throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
NAVEUR-NAVAF, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.