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US Ambassador stresses maritime security and global partnerships

Dec 3, 2012, 9:49 AM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

The United States Ambassador to The Gambia, Edward M “Ned” Alford, has said that maritime security and global partnerships are of vital importance in addressing the series of transnational challenges facing the world.

According to him, maritime security and global partnerships are important, given the overwhelming dependence of global prosperity and ecological sustainability on the safety, security, and freedom of the seas.

The US Ambassador was talking on Thursday on board US Navy vessel HSV-Swift, which is on a visit to The Gambia, during a reception attended by the Vice President, Isatou Njie Saidy, senior government officials, members of diplomatic corps, staff of the US embassy, among others.

The top US diplomat in Banjul said that today the world faces a series of transnational challenges, and that these affect all countries and requires a cooperative effort if these challenges are to be met.

“This is why partners from The Gambia, the United States of America, Spain, Germany and others have come together to participate in this visit,” said Ambassador Alford.

He added that our mutual tasks are to combat illicit trafficking in drugs and human beings, protect national resources, deter piracy, encourage economic growth and stability, and create a network of public and private partnerships to address continuing challenges.

“What we have learned from each other during this visit will better prepare us to meet the transnational challenges of tomorrow collectively,” said the US diplomat.

Ambassador Alford assured his audience that the US is dedicated to providing mutually beneficial regional training initiatives. He added that the USS Fort McHenry and other navy vessels comprising the African Partnership Station have visited ten countries on a rotational basis.

According to him, the sustained presence of the United States Navy and its African Partnership Station partner nations in West Africa demonstrated that the policy of maritime capacity building and partnership will continue.

He noted some of the benefits such as capacity building, increase response capability, professional military development, and the economic opportunity that The Gambia has gained from the global maritime partnership.

He further revealed that nearly ten percent of the Gambia’s armed forces are deployed to support regional peacekeeping forces and actively contribute to the security of the African neighbours, and that the cooperative training programmes, such as APS, increase the Gambia armed forces mission readiness.

He also underscored the benefits the US derives for the APS programme, describing it as a win-win situation.

He thanked the Gambia government for its cooperation, while also highlighting the contribution from the military partners from Spain and Germany.

Commander Charles Eaton of HSV-Swift, said HSV-Swift is the fastest ship supporting US naval operations around the world.

“Americans partner nations have the goal of promoting safety and security in the maritime area around Africa

“The strength of our partnership in The Gambia has grown, and I’m happy to report that this year we have expanded beyond simple US and Gambian bilateral engagements as we have a truly multinational operation with training and staff members participating from Germany, Spain Senegal, Denmark Ghana and Brazil,” he said.

Senior representative from the international staff of APS, commander Martin Kleman from the German Navy, revealed that they have been in the African waters for two months, noting that the feedback they  receive will motivate them  to continue.