US, Sierra Leone and partner nations complete joint naval exercise

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 May 2024:

The United States and Sierra Leone along with neighboring countries and NATO allies successfully completed a joint exercise, Obangame Express 2024.

Obangame Express has become an important part of strengthening partnership throughout the region, and this is the eighth year Sierra Leone has actively participated.

This U.S facilitated exercise is key in improving naval cooperation and maritime security.

Obangame Express exercise series offer an environment for realistic training and coordination for partners in the Gulf of Guinea to ensure operational readiness on the seas.

The goal is to support partners’ ability to counter piracy, illicit trafficking, and illegal unreported unregulated fishing. The freedom to navigate throughout the seas is paramount to peace and prosperity worldwide.

“It has been an honor to work and support the Sierra Leone Navy and our interagency experts throughout Obangame Express,” said Senior Chief Bullard, Country Lead for the exercise. “With gratitude and thanks for all the support from Captain Dumbuya of the Sierra Leone Navy and his staff, as well as Lt Colonel Rabarijaona of the U.S. Embassy. We enjoyed a prosperous and safe exercise.”

Over the last two weeks, U.S. and Sierra Leone Navy personnel worked closely with experts and operators from the host nation’s Police Maritime Force, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Marine Administration, National Revenue Authority, and the Immigration Department.

U.S Navy personnel facilitated and supported the exercise to assist the Sierra Leone Navy in the training and evaluation of their combined operation forces to counter complex and multifaceted illicit maritime activity utilizing an interregional, regional, and national interagency approach in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa.

Sierra Leone Navy Captain and Director of the Marine Operations Center in Murray Town, Captain Dumbuya, said, “within the framework of interagency collaboration and based on the developed scenarios, 49 personnel drawn from 6 national agencies including Navy, Joint Operations Center of the Joint Maritime Committee, the Marine Police, the Maritime Administration, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Transnational Organized Crime Unit, and the Immigration Department took part in the exercise.

“The scenarios included Tracking Exercise, Drug Trafficking, Antipiracy, Illegal Unreported, Unregulated exercise, both compliant and non-compliant, Search and Rescue, Anti-Smuggling, and Illegal Immigration.”

Captain Dumbuya emphasized that, “important to note is that these exercises enhance interoperability among our national agencies as well as the sub-region, and increase collaboration, coordination, and trust, and strengthen personnel, skills, and competences.”


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