US-Africa command hails Tanzania partnership in maritime security

DAR ES SALAAM: TANZANIA Mozambique and Djibouti have been hailed for their cooperation in dealing with maritime security challenges that led to a decline in piracy in the Indian Ocean region.

The Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, US Africom, Ambassador Robert Scott said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that the commitment by regional states in dealing with maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean had led to a decline in piracy.

“We appreciate Tanzania’s partnership in the maritime security domain, we have come a long way, and with other partners in Africa like Mozambique and Djibouti we collectively have reduced piracy. The situation was worse in the past regarding illegal activities,” stated Amb Scott,

The ongoing four-day seminar involving military and civilian participants which started on Monday this week has been organised by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies.

“We want to understand what are common challenges we have, so it is good to meet and identify things we can work on together, so maritime is one area that we think we can work together,” Amb Scott affirmed.

He said the Africom is a 3D command that stands for Diplomacy, Development and Defence.

“This is because we all know that security is a very broad topic, it touches areas of social and economic development,” he added.

On his part, the Director of the Maritime Partnership Programme, Rear Admiral Calvin Foster argued that no country can do it on itself, “we must do it together to solve the problem together, to discuss challenges that come with piracy, illicit trafficking, or any other illegal activities that affect the maritime security.”

He also gave credit to Tanzania Navy saying: “We thank Tanzania Navy for partnering with us. We have done many activities together including the Cutlass Express Exercise.”

The exercise is part of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which is an information-sharing network in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean nations.

This agreement was updated in 2017 and that update is known as the Jeddah Amendment.

The purpose is to enable the blue economy and to broaden the scope of determining – deterring illicit trafficking at sea, human trafficking, and illegal wildlife trade.

“Later in this year, through Cutlass Express you would see many different partners coming together across the US, India, and UK coming together on security issues,” Real Admiral Foster said.

He said knowing what is going on at Sea and what action to take are what they are trying to work on together.

“Most importantly the information we share is that we can combat illegal activities in the sea. Piracy challenge in this region has become a driver for us to work together more closely,” he added.

About illegal fishing, he said it was key to collectively look at that problem because the ocean is big.

“We think that if we address the Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing together, I think there will be many more benefits across the region,”

He advised each country to develop a maritime operations centre that brings together the navy, drugs enforcement organ, fishers, and judicial officers, among others, to strengthen maritime security, arrest and prosecution.

He further argued that investment and partnership were key, the more the countries invest together in capability, data activities, sea vision, and patrol crafts across the region the more security.

He said the US-Africa partners on maritime security have been meeting regularly to talk and increase capacity.

“We look forward to organise more events here in Tanzania.  My visit here is really increasing my optimism about the blue economy. I believe that the day of illegal activities coming to an end because we have collectively committed investment in maritime security,” he stated.

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