Mission to Africa: Strengthening global partnerships

A Coast Guardsman participates in a joint boarding with a Senegalese boarding team to support the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

A Coast Guardsman participates in a joint boarding with a Senegalese boarding team to support the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn, Atlantic Area public affairs.

From coast to coast and one continent to another, building partnerships helps the Coast Guard achieve common goals around the world. One group of Coast Guardsmen found themselves doing just that as they deployed to Africa and further reinforced our service’s commitment to strengthening global partnerships.

In support of U.S. Africa Command’s mission, Coast Guardsmen from the Deployable Operations Group deployed to support the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership program.

A joint U.S. and Sierra Leone law enforcement boarding team talk with the crew of a cargo ship during a law enforcement boarding. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Annie R. B. Elis.

A joint U.S. and Sierra Leone law enforcement boarding team talk with the crew of a cargo ship during a law enforcement boarding. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Annie R. B. Elis.

The program, commonly referred to as AMLEP, enables African partner nations to build maritime security capacity and improve management of their maritime environment through combined law enforcement operations. As each nation performs the joint operations they learn a little more about each other and how to best perform the mission and keep the region safe and secure.

With the trafficking of narcotics, people and weapons as well as environmental crimes taking place in African waters, the operations seek to curb these crimes and their detrimental impact on economies and local stability.

Many African coastal nations rely on fishing for food which contributes to revenue and jobs to local economies. However, some reports have shown Africa loses upwards of $1 billion each year to illegal fishing.

“The joint Navy-Coast Guard team is making a difference by building relations and good will with our partner nations in Africa while contributing to their security and sustainability of their natural resources,” said Capt. Robert Wagner, Atlantic Area chief of operations.

AMLEP boardings are joint operations, led by host nation law enforcement officials with U.S. Coast Guard personnel providing advice and assistance. Throughout the first half of 2012, Coast Guardsmen from the Deployable Operations Group conducted nearly two dozen fisheries-focused boardings off the coasts of Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia.

African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership focuses on operating side-by-side with regional maritime services in order to stop and deter illicit transnational maritime activity. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership focuses on operating side-by-side with regional maritime services in order to stop and deter illicit transnational maritime activity. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith.

In one particular case this year, evidence of a vessel suspected of illegally discharging oil was turned over to the vessel’s respective nation for further investigation. While finding new offenders, the vigilance in the region is already paying dividends. Several vessels found to be in violation of host nation fisheries laws in 2011 were boarded again this year and were found to be fully compliant.

The AMLEP program supports the U.S. foreign policy goals of peace, security and development by providing direct support to African maritime security forces building their capacity assisting them in enforcing their national laws. These operations are just one of many the service participates in as Coast Guard men and women remain globally connected, bringing military expertise and response capabilities to other nations.

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