Lagos, Nigeria - Exercise Obangame Express 2019, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) exercise in its ninth year, has begun to provide collaborative opportunities among African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns.

“Obangame Express has grown in scope from a communications exercise to become what it is now — a comprehensive maritime security event that exercises the full spectrum of activities from command and control, to maritime force responses, and ultimately the handing and transfer of evidence to bring criminals to justice," said Rear Adm. Heidi Berg. "Today, we face serious challenges at sea such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics, people, and the ongoing threat of piracy. This illicit activity undermines rule of law, food security, and economic development. Our efforts here will help make the region a safer place for maritime commerce and help increase prosperity throughout the region."

Exercise Obangame Express 2019, is part of a comprehensive strategy by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F) and AFRICOM, designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

Obangame Express 2019 will be conducted in multiple areas at sea and ashore. At-sea operations will be throughout the Gulf of Guinea. The largest footprint ashore will be in Lagos, Nigeria. Numerous Maritime Operation Centers (MOCs) will be participating from ashore across the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa along with several international organization MOCs. Opening and closing exercise ceremonies will be in Lagos, Nigeria.

Specific skill sets exercised for Obangame Express 2019 include boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques. The U.S. will provide multiple training teams and controllers operating in African partner nations and aboard partner vessels.

The 33 nations scheduled to participate include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States.