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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2022

U.S. Naval Forces Africa, Royal Danish Navy host Maritime Operations Planning Workshop with Gulf of Guinea partners

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

In a combined effort, U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) and the Royal Danish Navy will host the Maritime Operations Planning Workshop (MOPW) in Accra, Ghana for West African partners from 14 nations, Aug. 18, 2022.

Building off of the partnerships established during exercise Obangame Express, MOPW allows junior officers from African navies and coast guards to plan operations in a collaborative environment. During the eight-day workshop, participants will exchange operational planning experiences, develop templates for use during exercises, and plan real-world operations.

“MOPW provides us with an excellent opportunity to exchange information and become a stronger, more unified team,” said Rear Adm. Chase Patrick, director of maritime headquarters, NAVAF. “These efforts also highlight our common goal of enhancing maritime security by supporting African-led institutions, which enable stability and prosperity throughout the Gulf of Guinea.”

Led by the Royal Danish Navy, participants will receive a classroom curriculum focused on mission preparation and analysis, commander’s direction, course of action development, as well as development and communication of the plan. In addition to Danish instructors, four previous students from Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Ghana will return as instructors.

“We are very excited to be back in Ghana for MOPW. The curriculum allows students to gain an in-depth understanding of the joint planning process,” said Cmdr. Rasmus Munksgaard, MOPW planning lead, Royal Danish Navy. “The workshop combines teaching, group work and briefings to create as realistic of a setting as possible for when they work in an international staff or in a position within the Yaoundé structure.”

This marks the first workshop in three years, which was postponed as a matter of precaution due to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID19) pandemic. Ghana also hosted the last jointly led U.S-Danish workshop in 2019.

MOPW allows partner and allied nations to establish relationships and common understanding of the planning process, which will streamline coordination for future maritime operations. This is particularly important given the emphasis on a regional approach to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea under the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.

In 2013, the Gulf of Guinea coastal nations developed and signed the Yaounde Code of Conduct, a key agreement to improve maritime interoperability.  This powerful framework established objectives and improved inter-region coastal relationships and joint capabilities that have reduced illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

 “As the OSC for Ghana, Benin and Togo, it was a regional security cooperation success to have participants from each country present.  We are very proud of the commitment each representative demonstrated to regional maritime security, I look forward to building upon the relationships established this week. ,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Vallianos, Acting OSC Chief to U.S. Embassy Accra, Lomé and Cotonou.

Participating nations include maritime forces from Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Republic of Congo and Togo. Representatives from the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) will also attend the workshop.

The participating nations were also members of this year’s iteration of exercise Obangame Express 22 (OE22). OE 22, the largest annual maritime security exercise in Western Africa, allows participating countries to work together on shared transnational maritime challenges.

The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent. These waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability. 

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.