Marine Task Force Conclude West Africa Engagements

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared King, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det. Europe
Thursday, November 14, 2013

An International Marine Task Force comprised of U.S., U.K., Dutch and Spanish Marine units disembarked from the Royal Netherlands Navy landing platform dock HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) after concluding a comprehensive set of security-enhancing activities as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS), Nov. 10.

Over the course of three months, Rotterdam conducted five capability-enhancing engagements in support of the APS program in Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Rotterdam Sailors, Dutch mobile training teams and the International Marine Task Force worked with more than 1,087 maritime professionals in skills ranging from amphibious training, port security, and martial arts to fishery conferences, coxswain training and maritime law.

Launched in 2007, Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

"I think the Rotterdam was a perfect example of the international collaboration in building partner capacity in Africa," said Byron L. Smith, director of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa's Africa Engagement Group. "Through European partner participation, it helps highlight that maritime issues in Africa are not simply African issues but global issues that we must collectively address."

This is second time the Royal Netherlands Navy has contributed a major naval asset to APS, the first being the landing platform dock ship HNLMS Johan De Witt (L801) in the fall of 2009. The Royal Netherlands Navy joins 12 other Euro-Atlantic partners committed to working side-by-side with African partners to improve security as part of the APS initiative.

Rotterdam's multipurpose deployment, called African Winds, was a success in the minds of Dutch senior leadership.

"African Winds 2013 proved that simultaneously a ship and embarked forces can be trained as well as interdepartmental [ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of trade, ministry of defense] goals can be achieved, without losing training value on individual level," said Royal Netherlands Marine Corps Col. Frederik R. Swart, commander of Netherland Landing Forces participating in the APS program. "Using the 3D-Defense, Development & Diplomacy-from the sea as a comprehensive concept of operations the deployment was able to succeed."

Rotterdam's engagements in West Africa met a number of security objectives, paving the way for participating nations to have more secure borders, overall stability and prosperity.

"I'm proud of the accomplishments that the team here at NAVAF, but also the contributions the Dutch, British, Spanish teams all collectively bring to the table," said Smith.

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