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Sunday, July 09, 2006

US increasing African operations

WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is increasing operations in Africa's Gulf of Guinea to provide increased security in the strategic and resource-rich region.

REST U.S. European Command's naval surface combatant warships commander Capt. Tom Rowden said that deployments there had increased from almost no activity in 2004 to 130 "ship days" in 2005 with even more planned ship days for 2006.

Rowden, commander of Task Force 65, said, that the U.S. military's intention is to build long-term relationships that promote greater regional security and stability.

Among regional problems are narcotics trafficking from South America, smuggling of illegal aliens into Europe, illegal maritime poaching estimated to cost about $1 billion annually and pollution.

Rowden said, "We're looking at building the capacity and capability of the nations down there to secure the maritime domain to address these destabilizing activities. Our goal is to ensure a more stable maritime environment to ensure their ability to get those resources to market."

The American Forces Press Service reported on July 5 that Africa now provides almost 15 percent of the United States' energy imports.

The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land recently completed a three-month regional deployment, which included port visits to Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Ghana, Angola, and the Republic of the Congo.

U.S. Navy teams assisted their West African counterparts in improving their damage control and ship maintenance abilities and provided survey teams to develop more accurate navigational charts.

Two months ago U.S. Navy leaders met with senior navy leaders from more than 20 African countries in Nigeria during the May Seapower for Africa Symposium to encourage them to work cooperatively to promote regional security. Naval Forces Europe commander Adm. Henry G. Ulrich III told symposium participants, "No single country can do it alone, including my own. One of the important things we need to realize about operating in Africa is that the personal relationships are absolutely vital in order to be able to begin to understand how we can best assist them in building that maritime capacity and capability. There's no better ambassador for the United States of America than the sailor of the United States Navy. I was absolutely blown away by their ability to go out and make friends and the willingness on their part to give." OF THE ARTICLE GOES HERE
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