NEWS | Sept. 17, 2020

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Hosts Virtual Senior Leadership Symposium for Exercise Obangame Express 2020

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa hosted a virtual senior leadership symposium for multinational maritime exercise Obangame Express 2020, Sept. 15-17, 2020.

Leaders from the Gulf of Guinea, Europe, North America, and several regional and international organizations dialed in to participate in the symposium, which was postponed following the cancellation of the March 2020 exercise.

COVID-19 limited conducting face-to-face interactions; however, participants met virtually to hold honest discussions on the challenges in combating maritime security threats in Atlantic Africa.

“I’m proud to see the collective effort of all participants this week as we continue to tackle the issues we face in the maritime domain,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. “Piracy, energy security, illegal fishing, and illicit drug trafficking all threaten global trade and regional stability.”

African participants chose “Obangame” as the name for the exercise in 2010, which means “togetherness” in Fang, a commonly spoken West African language.

“Looking back on the last decade since Obangame’s humble beginnings, we can see what it’s going to take: time, trust, and collaboration,” said Black. “Atlantic Africa has made real progress. We have tangible evidence of the advances that we made together since the first iteration of Obangame Express.”

Exercise Obangame Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter illicit maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Obangame Express is one of three annual U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa facilitated regional exercises and is part of a comprehensive strategy by U.S. Sixth Fleet and U.S. Africa Command to provide collaborative opportunities among African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, 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.