US Africa Command leaders meet with US Coast Guard leadership


US Africa Command leaders met with US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz on 1 October to discuss mutual efforts to enhance global safety, security, and stewardship of the maritime domain, including efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“US maritime security in Africa helps make us a partner of choice,” said US Africa Command commander US Army General Stephen Townsend. “Our efforts strengthen relationships while advancing mutual US and African security and economic interests.”

Through joint efforts with partner nations, US Africa Command and the Coast Guard seek to demonstrate US commitment and model responsible behaviour, confront the actions of near-peer competitors, and shine a light on the activities of those who violate the international rules-based order in the maritime domain, Africa Command said.

Recently, the 270 foot Coast Guard Cutter Bear conducted training and joint patrols at the request of the Government of the Republic of Cabo Verde to enhance maritime domain awareness.

“Together with US Naval Forces Africa and the Coast Guard, we’re working with African partner nations to enhance their capabilities and capacity to protect their maritime resources from illicit actors,” said US Africa Command deputy commander, US Air Force Lieutenant General Kirk Smith. “Maritime security is critical to economic development and sustaining global commerce. Economic growth in Africa relies on safe and lawful use of the sea.”

The commandant’s visit follows the recent release of the Coast Guard’s IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook, which outlines the service’s efforts to combat illegal fishing over the next decade. Fish are an essential food source for over 40 percent of the world’s population and IUU undermines a nation’s ability to secure its own domestic food security. Loss of that security can destabilize the fragile economies of many coastal countries. The Coast Guard, as the United States’ lead maritime law enforcement agency and member of the joint force, is uniquely positioned to help partner nations secure valuable resources, Africa Command said.

“The Coast Guard’s key contributions reside in joint and multi-lateral activities that build partner nation capacity such as operations, training, exercises and professional exchanges. The human to human aspects of these contributions are irreplaceable and demonstrate an enduring commitment for like-minded partners to confront global challenges together,” said Schultz. “As a recognized world leader in maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship, the Coast Guard has a responsibility to help build a coalition of partners willing to identify and address maritime security challenges, including IUU fishing. Together, we can spotlight bad actors and root out this illicit behaviour.”