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NEWS | May 24, 2021

U.S. Coast Guard and Partner Nations Exchange Best Practices During Phoenix Express 2021

By Lt. Mathuel Browne

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a subject matter expert exchange on the topics of restraint devices, tactical approach, and detainee contact for the in-port portion of exercise Phoenix Express 2021 in Bizerte, Tunisia, on May 18, 2021.

Members from U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South demonstrated law enforcement techniques to regional partner nations to promote maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. They began this component of the exercise by exchanging best practices with members of the Royal Moroccan Navy.

“Today we reviewed detainee processing with our Moroccan partners to share best practices while applying handcuffs and utilizing defensive techniques—anything that would help them in the performance of their duties,” said Petty Officer Second Class Jeff Barker, a maritime enforcement specialist. “We also learned some of the Moroccan armed forces best practices and defense techniques they use while in contact with detainees. We were able to merge our defensive tactics with theirs and learn from each other.”

This session highlights the common challenges in the region. Curbing illegal activities such as illicit trafficking (human, arms, drug), piracy and maritime crime, and illegal, unrestricted, and unreported fishing within the Mediterranean Sea are key goals of the multinational maritime exercise.

The exercise provides an opportunity to work side-by-side with partners, such as Morocco, to better synchronize and rehearse for potential real-world scenarios. Maritime security is critical to the overall stability of the African continent, where 38 of its 54 countries are coastal nations. Approximately 90 percent of all trade travels via the world's oceans, and nearly a third of all trade passes through the Mediterranean Sea.

“One of the important factors in this exercise is to continue to build relationships with our partner nations,” said Barker. “Being out at sea, you never know who you will come across. We can be in theater or on patrol and find ourselves working with our international partners. Having a baseline knowledge of each other’s best practices will boost interoperability.”

Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three regional maritime exercises executed by U.S. Naval Forces Africa  as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns.

Eleven nations are participating in Exercise Phoenix Express 2021 including Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the United States.

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard remain operational despite COVID-19, following all coronavirus safety precautions and regulations.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, 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.