Rear Adm. Oumar Wade, Senegalese Navy chief of staff, spoke during the closing ceremony of the multinational Exercise Obangame Express in Dakar, Senegal, on March 18, 2022. His remarks have been translated from the original French and edited for space and clarity.
I am again very happy to meet you this morning for the closing ceremony of Exercise Obangame Express. In a year when some 18 countries from the Gulf of Guinea have taken part, not to mention our partners, the number of attendees bears witness to our countries’ commitment to promote and improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Obangame Express is an important event for the National Navy of Senegal, for all navies of the Gulf of Guinea and for the subregion. It has enabled us to acquire, test, and assess the techniques and the crews, and it thus represents an appropriate indication of the progress that we are making in strengthening and conducting our maritime missions.
Obangame Express is of particular interest to us, as it enables us to develop an interoperability among the various naval forces in the subregion and the Gulf of Guinea. I am therefore pleased to commend such an effort to conduct training activities and drills on a subregional scale with the support of our American, European and Brazilian partners.
The various scenarios that we conducted enabled us to develop the capabilities of the coordination centers, as well as the capabilities to plan and conduct marine operations, and the capabilities to lead naval units and on-board teams performing ship visits, and to work with aircraft. They have emphasized the means for information-sharing; I believe this is an essential factor on which we should all work together in the subregion.
Despite these improvements, it is clear that there still remains some way to go, which is recognized by everyone. We still have some work to do, and this is why we need again to really mobilize the interministerial spirit, mobilize enough resources in our countries to be able to work together, and contribute the efforts that are required for securing our waters and maritime domains.
We can see this at the national level: Various improvements have been mentioned during this gathering concerning the equipment, the training, and the interministerial efforts enabling the creation of appropriate bodies, in order to spark a synergy within our countries.
I would like to thank in particular the military commander of U.S. Africa Command for holding the series of Express exercises since 2011 with the participation of our European and Brazilian partners. I would also like to congratulate all participants who came here to share their experiences in conducting maritime security missions under the direction of our respective countries. Your dedication, your exemplary commitment and your team spirit have all contributed to the success of this exercise. You have given here the proof that a cooperation among the naval forces of all countries provides the best defense in order to thwart the various maritime threats. Current events in our subregion require that we work together and adopt an operationally vigorous and permanent stance at all levels.
Officers, noncommissioned officers, quartermasters and seamen, all that remains for me to do is to convey my best wishes as you return to your various countries. I hope that the achievements of this exercise will benefit the conduct of future operations.