African nations working for maritime security
By Scott Cohen
Representatives from 10 East African nations, along with coalition partners from the United Kingdom, France and the United States participated in a week-long working group in Djibouti to help lay a foundation for partnership in the realm of maritime security.
Speakers from the various organizations presented on a wide range of topics including strategies for short and long term planning, pooling resources, regional cooperation and security considerations at sea. Also, representatives from each of the nations discussed ideas for increasing maritime security in their regions.
The event was coordinated by a team from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
Rear Admiral Philip Greene, commander CJTF-HOA, explained to participants why maritime security is so vital for overall regional success.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring people together to develop partnerships, as well as to share information and knowledge about our path to improving maritime security and safety in the Horn and Eastern Africa,” he said. “The end state is regional security and cooperation to help create a prosperous East Africa.”
Navy Captain James R. Burke, director of the plans and policy directorate for CJTF-HOA, expressed his goal to organize and pool resources throughout the region.
“Whenever you build some type of maritime capacity, it is never cheap and there are limited resources,” Burke said. “What is required is to determine what the threats are and what the nation may need to combat these threats.”
During small working groups, delegates from the partner nations discussed the specific challenges faced by each nation.
One delegate brought up the issue of having an uninformed populace regarding the laws surrounding smuggling. “If they do not know it is wrong, how can you expect them to refrain from doing illegal activities,” asked one of the attendees.
Maritime security is not only a concern of coastal nations. Uganda is a prime example of a land-locked country with maritime security concerns. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Nyayrwa, head of the Uganda People’s Defense Force Maritime Forces, said that even though his country is in the interior of Africa, Maritime security still plays a role in the overall security of his country.
“We looked at how maritime security and safety strategies could be developed in the workshop and we came to understand these strategies are not about navies, but about maritime domain awareness,” Nyayrwa said. “It is about partnership, it is about cooperation, it is about countries pooling their resources, sharing information, and all of this is for the economic benefit for the people in this region of Africa.”
According to Burke, the working groups provided a valuable opportunity to work together and move one step closer to achieving overall security goals for East Africa.