When the Pentagon established a new regional combatant command known as Africa Command (AFRICOM) in February 2007 there was only one country, Liberia, prepared to host an AFRICOM regional Headquarters. It was therefore considered only sensible that the US Navy, rather than the army, assumed the lead role in the United States’ strategic engagement with Africa.
The Navy’s principal instrument in this regard is the Africa Partnership Station (APS), an international security cooperation initiative designed to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
Although the United States’ principal interests in sub-Saharan Africa can be considered counter-terrorism and securing access to hydrocarbons, counter narcotics is an area of considerable concern. Saharan Express is a counter narcotics and proliferation exercise that is part of the APS program.
The U.S. Navy photograph by Petty Officer 1st Class Darryl Wood, shows a Cape Verdean visit board, search and seizure team circling the guided-missile frigate USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) during exercise Saharan Express off the coast of Cape Verde April 27, 2011.
Mark Lowe, Friday 29 April 2011