The multinational military exercise on the West African coast known as “Obangame Express” ended the maritime stage last Thursday (2). Conducted by the United States, the operation is carried out annually and aims to combat piracy, illegal fishing and drug trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea The Ocean Patrol Ship “Araguari” of the Brazilian Navy (MB) participated in this year’s edition, which had the participation of 33 countries.
Trade relations between Brazil and African countries end up being affected by maritime insecurity in the region. The country has sought to collaborate in tackling the problem, offering courses and training to African countries at Brazilian military academies and with the participation of the Navy in naval exercises with countries on that continent.
The Commander of the “Araguari”, Frigate Captain Marcio Jorge dos Santos, explains that the MB’s participation is of great strategic importance for the development of the capabilities of the Naval Forces in combating illicit activities at sea, which contributes to stability in the South Atlantic.
“The environment where the operation takes place has been, in recent years, the ‘hot spot’ for piracy and other illicit acts at sea. This condition makes, under a tactical analysis, the mission effectively a great opportunity for improvement of procedures, for the exchange of real experiences and for the identification of cooperation possibilities between the Navies”, he points out.
The Brazilian ship departed for the mission on January 28 of this year and carried out several exercises of different levels of complexity with the Navy of Angola, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. Among the activities, scenarios involving human trafficking, illegal immigration, arms and drug trafficking, illegal fishing, kidnapping, piracy, environmental pollution, search and rescue were simulated.
“The great innovation of this edition rested on the permanent search for the simultaneous action of the three countries, with mixed tactical teams, acting under the same objective, with division of tasks and in close coordination, proving at sea the perception that the integration between the Forces contributes in a significant way for stability in the region”, says the Commander.
The Master of the Ship, Petty Officer Leonardo Alves de Albuquerque, concluded another edition of the Obangame Express and says that with each task it was possible to check the progress of the countries. “The exercise allowed us to compare the operating procedures employed, exchange experiences, and strengthen the bonds of friendship between the participating nations. It was rewarding to see the professionalism and seriousness of the military involved”, he reports.