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Team of US Navy instructors arrives in The Gambia

Apr 13, 2011, 2:33 PM | Article By: Sainey M.k. Marenah

A team of United States Navy instructors is currently in the country as part of the US Africa Command, Africa Partnership Station 2011, an integral part of US Africa Command’s strategy to advance US interest in Africa through partnership with African states to enhance capacity to proactively manage available resources, and ensure self-sufficiency in the maritime domain.

The naval force, which is a mobile training division under APS 2011, will among others conduct training for the Gambia Navy and other maritime stakeholders including the Fisheries Department, Gambia Maritime Administration on maritime domain awareness, fisheries protection and maritime law enforcement, medical emergency response at sea and basic inductor training.

The instructors, currently in the country courtesy of the US Embassy in Banjul, Monday began a two-week intensive training for 50 Gambia Navy officers.

The training comes barely three days after another batch of US Coast Guard International Training Division left Banjul, after successfully conducting an advanced boarding officer’s course for 20 navy personnel geared towards enhancing professionalism in the navy through training.

It was, among others, geared towards working with partners like The Gambia to enhance maritime security, in order to effectively address cross-cutting maritime security challenges such as terrorism, piracy, and drug trafficking.  

Addressing the gathering, Navy Commander Commodore Madani Senghore said that if adequately confronted, the transnational challenges would enhance unhindered maritime commerce, promote regional stability, prosperity and development in the African continent.

“Cognizant of the fact that a one size package does not fit all due to the disparity in African nation’s national maritime security interests, capabilities and levels of preparedness, African Partnership Station 2011 gave partner nations the opportunity to indentify country specific training needs and provide mobile training teams to conduct them in their countries,” he stated.

According to him, the program was carefully selected to enhance the maritime domain to suit the Gambia’s maritime security needs.  He commended the US Government through its diplomatic mission in Banjul for the support rendered to the Gambia Navy.

The US acting deputy chief of mission and management officer at the US Embassy in Banjul, Jason Brenden, opined that the oceans of the world are a common linking element of today’s global market.

According to him, threats such as drug and human trafficking, illegal fishing and poaching, smuggling, illegal migration, climate change and environmental degradation, as well as terrorism are real and present in our world.

These threats, he added, call for urgent sustained global partnership and coalitions among nations, organizations and societies to confront.

Also speaking at the gathering was the deputy Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Ousman Badjie, who commended the US for showing a clear interest in helping the Gambia protect its maritime security through capacity building and training. “This is an opportunity for the Navy to take and make best use of,” he said.

Badjie expressed hope that the training will go a long way in boosting the morale and capabilities of the Gambia Navy in their quest to maintain safety in the territorial waters of the country, as well as ensuring maritime security in the interest of the sector and the globe.

Lieutenant Commander Robert Hopkins, the US Navy Banjul team leader, cherished the relations between the Gambia and US, noting that the US will continue its partnership with Africa.