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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2019

Podcast E11: Ukraine to Ghana: Celebrating Friendship across Continents and Generations

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

In the 11th episode of “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theater” podcast, Adm. James G. Foggo III highlights the great power competition in the Black Sea and the importance of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Foggo, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-A), shared his thoughts on exercise Sea Breeze and his trip to celebrate the Ghanaian navy’s 60th anniversary and attend the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference. For the first time in the podcast’s history, he invited two guests to join him: CNE-A Fleet Master Chief Derrick Walters and Logistics Specialist 1st Class Ahmed Tabsoba.

Exercise Sea Breeze and Russian Activity

The admiral began the podcast by sharing his thoughts on the recent 19th annual Sea Breeze exercise, which brought together 3,000 sailors from 19 nations, 32 ships, and 24 aircraft in real-world training operations.

“I've been stationed in Europe several times during the course of my career,” said Foggo. “Stability and security in the Black Sea has never been more important than today. Our presence there is to deter any aggressors who seek to take land or disrupt maritime traffic in international waters.  And that's what Sea Breeze and other exercises like it are all about.”

He also told a story about Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti’s, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, visit to Odesa, Ukraine for the exercise and had the opportunity to meet with the new president of Ukraine, and to meet with special family members.

“Admiral Franchetti met family members of the Ukrainian sailors who are being detained by the Russians after the Sea of Azov incident,” said Foggo. “And she heard their stories and concerns.”

Foggo concluded the conversation on Sea Breeze with thoughts on the importance of this year’s collaboration.

“What makes NATO unique is that we don't seek to take sovereign territory in any kind of offensive operations,” he said. “We don't impede the free flow of shipping in international waters.  We defend the sovereign territory of our alliance members, and we protect sea lines of communication and freedom of navigation and freedom of the seas.”

Ghana Navy’s 60th and International Maritime Defense

Foggo also highlighted his visit to Ghana. While in Ghana, he visited with the Sailors and Coast Guardsmen aboard spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) which is conducting small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement engagement, and medical and community relations outreach, with port visits to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde.

During this trip, Foggo shared what he called a “humbling complement” from Rear Adm. Seth Amoama who said: "Foggo has been doing this for about 10 years. So that makes him one of us."  Rear Admiral Amoama then continued, "… if you're one of us, then you must have an African name. What day were you born on, Foggo?"  Foggo said, "I was born on a Wednesday." Amoama replied, "Okay, in that case we re-baptize you, Kwaku Foggo."

Foggo also attended the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference, 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,” said Foggo. “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.”

To best understand the importance of the U.S. Navy’s mission in the Gulf of Guinea, however, it is important to recognize Africa’s unparalleled promise of prosperity if such challenges are resolved.  Currently, 60 percent of the African population is below the age of 24.  The African workforce will exceed China’s and India’s by 2030 and 2035, respectively.  By 2050, one in four world citizens will be African.

Trips like these attest to the United States’ support of that potential.  As such, Foggo described the visits as “friendship in practice… countries coming together to help one another.  And the one thing we only ask in return from our African partners is friendship. “

Ghana Trip Reflects Diversity of the Navy: Walters, Tabsoba, Amegee

Admiral Foggo also expressed his gratitude for Fleet Master Chief Walter’s and Ghana native Logistics Specialist 1st Class Tabsoba’s contributions to the trip to Ghana.

Tabsoba, who is from Ghana, joined the U.S. Navy and became a U.S. citizens was excited to return to his home country as a member of the Navy. 

“First of all, I thank Admiral [Foggo] for giving me this opportunity to travel with him,” said Tabsoba. “I was born in Kumasi and I stayed all my life in Kumasi for 24 years before traveling to the state. And I finished university in 2010, I traveled to the United States in 2011 and I joined [the Navy] right away… So my trip to Ghana was very exciting.”

Foggo, in turn, described Tabsoba as an “outstanding ambassador for his country [who] represents what is great about our Navy, and that is diversity”.  Foggo even suggested the upbeat and inspiring nature of his personal history served as an icebreaker in the great conversation they then had with Ghanaian Defense Minister Nitiwul.

Making his first appearance on the podcast, Fleet Master Chief Walters expressed his appreciation for the “enthusiasm and professionalism of our Sailors supporting the African partnership station deployment”, specifically remembering the technical expertise of a small boat maintenance team, members of the 133rd CB Battalion, and the expeditionary security team sent from Naval Expeditionary Combat Command to assist with the in-port security. 

Admiral Foggo also mentioned Togo native Lt. Lynda Amegee, who was recently profiled on Voice of America (LINK) and who shared her inspiring story with the local community when USNS Carlson City visited Senegal. Amegge is embarked the ship for its first two port visits in the Gulf of Guinea.

As Admiral Foggo concluded, “I'm proud of the work that our team here has done in the Africa Partnership Station, and I look forward to many future likewise exercises.”

 “On the Horizon: Navigating the European and African Theaters” is available on: Spotify, Speaker, Sound Cloud, iTunes, and Stitcher

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U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Listen to "Episode 11 On The Horizon" on Spreaker.