Over five days, 13 nations from across West Africa, Europe, and North America sent military delegations to collaborate, learn, and train together as part of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF)’s Obangame Express 2024 military interdiction training events at the Ghana Western Naval Headquarters in Sekondi. 

In all, 111 participants – from Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Liberia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the United States – attended lectures, practiced maritime security tactics, and drilled cooperatively together. 

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET), Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (Corps Mariniers) Reconnaissance Sniper Team, NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre, and INTERPOL led a robust series of training events in Sekondi. French interpreters from the Royal Netherlands Army provided translation of the lessons to over 50 personnel from five French-speaking West African nations. 

During the first two days of the event, participants rotated between four stations covering hallway-clearing procedures, room-clearing procedures, and tactical casualty care treating wounds and major injuries. These events were mainly taught through joint instruction by the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. Two Greek Navy personnel from NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC)’s mobile training team also joined the multinational contingent.

“Working alongside our Dutch and Greek allies to train our African partners in maritime focused tactical procedures and medical care empowers nations to handle crisis effectively,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Paul Avella, senior U.S. Coast Guard official overseeing Obangame Express 2024 training at Ghana Western Naval Headquarters.   

The following two days of training focused on learning about initial maritime crime scene investigation and evidence collection, as well as applying this to a shipboard setting. Trainees took to Snake-class patrol ship GNS Ehwor (P 37) and Cutter-class patrol ship GNS Anzone (P 30) to practice the skills they had learned about close quarters combat and maritime interdiction. They also snapped on pairs of surgical gloves to apply crime scene evidence collection training in a hands-on activity set up by INTERPOL Regional Maritime Security Directorate criminal intelligence officer Ludovic Payet. 

On the final day of instruction, students once again embarked aboard Ghana Navy ships and small boats to apply all that they had learned, including boarding techniques and small boat helmsmanship. Together, the militaries meshed and worked alongside one another to complete each of the tasks, often communicating with hand signals to break the language barrier. 

During exercise Obangame Express 2024, the 13th iteration of the exercise, partner and ally forces collaborate to enhance collective maritime law enforcement capabilities, bolster national and regional security in West Africa, and foster greater interoperability among U.S., African, and multinational partners. The U.S. routinely exercises with its partners in Africa to build enduring relationships and combined capacity to ensure the safety and security of the regional maritime environment. 

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