For the first time, the United States is working with the naval forces of Gulf of Guinea nations in a joint exercise to improve the region’s preparedness and capability to combat piracy, narcotics trafficking, and other maritime threats. The combined exercise "Obangame / Saharan Express 2016" was officially launched on March 17, 2016, at Senegalese National Marine Naval Base, by authorities of the participating and observing countries. Cameroon is the official host of the exercise, with elements of the exercise taking place in other participating countries. The northernmost “hub” of the exercise, Senegal, was chosen to host the opening ceremony.
The ceremony was presided over by U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Sandra Clark, Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Navy Rear Admiral Cheikh Bara Cissokho, and the Commander U.S.6th Fleet, Vice Adm. James Foggo.
Exercise Obangame/Saharan Express is a multinational maritime exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet that brings together African, European, South American, and U.S. forces — part of a Global Network of Navies — to enhance cooperation and expertise in maritime security operations.
The exercise will take place throughout the Gulf of Guinea, and will have land-based Maritime Operations Centers throughout the region.
In the past, Obangam Express and Saharan Express were separate exercises that took place in different areas of West Africa. This year they have been combined to increase capacity building for more partners across West Africa.
There are 27 participating nations in Obangame/Saharan Express 2016: Angola, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Turkey, United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
This Obangame/Saharan Express 2016 exercise ended will end on March 27 with a symposium in Douala, Cameroon.
The United States is proud to work with its international partners to keep the seaways to Africa open and safe for the benefit of all the peoples of Africa.