For the first in the West Indian Ocean, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Seychelles Coast Guard conducted a combined maritime law enforcement subject matter expert exchange as part of Operation Junction Rain.
Operation Junction Rain (OJR), which this year was held between 9 and 27 September, is part of the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, which is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet facilitated initiative that aims to enhance the maritime law enforcement capabilities of African partners in order to improve the security of the maritime domain. The expansion of OJR and AMLEP to the east coast of Africa is an important step for African partners in establishing a secure maritime environment necessary for local economies to flourish, and is essential to the overall quality of life for a country’s citizens, the U.S. Navy said.
“U.S. Naval Forces Africa aspires to work with our African partners like the Seychellois to achieve shared objectives centered on the belief that a secure and prosperous African continent will benefit all,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “Conducting operations, exercises and subject matter exchanges with our partners improves maritime security along their coastlines, territorial seas and exclusive economic zones.
“Maritime security is critical for coastal nations as seaborne trade is the lifeblood of global trade. When maritime trade freely sails across the seas, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible.”
Members of U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South partnered with their Seychellois counterparts for the third and final operational phase of AMLEP. Coast Guardsmen from the U.S. and Seychelles joined other agencies to discuss best practices and procedures for boarding vessels suspected of engaging in illicit activity and enforcing Seychellois laws and regulations.
“It has been a pleasure and great experience working with the Seychellois Coast Guard, Special Forces, Anti-Narcotics Bureau and the Maritime Police over the past few weeks,” said Lt. j.g. Kevin Painten, officer in charge of USCG Law Enforcement detachment 403. “Their expertise and professionalism in maritime operations is exceptional. I am excited for the future as the Seychelles and United States continue to cooperate in combating transnational organized crime together.”
During the first two operational phases, TACLET South members teamed up with Nigerian Navy, Cabo Verdean Coast Guard, Togolese Navy and the Ghanaian Navy to execute boardings of vessels in the respective nations’ waters, and a P-8A assigned to Patrol Squadron 9 joined in for the second phase to conduct maritime air patrols with the Ghanaian Air Force.
“The integration of the Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team and Navy P-8A with our partner nations’ navies, coast guards and air forces strengthens our capabilities as a joint force and bolsters the security and stability in the region,” said Foggo.
A strong maritime presence is critical to ensuring local fisheries are protected and commercial shipping lanes stay open to sustain global commerce. The operational phases of the AMLEP program reinforce the skill sets developed as part of the annual Africa Partnership Station exercises in a real-world operation and improves the detection, boarding and law enforcement activities necessary for maritime security.
“This type of capacity building remains paramount as we help our African partners counter illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and persons in the region,” said Foggo. “These efforts help nations protect their own resources and use these resources for their prosperity and their people.”
The AMLEP end goal is for an African partner nation to be able to conduct law enforcement operations independently of U.S. efforts and effectively address ever-changing maritime threats including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, illicit trafficking and piracy.