The first combined exercise “Obangame / Saharan Express 2016” was officially launched on March 17, 2016, at Senegalese National Marine Naval Base, by authorities of the participating and observers countries. The ceremony was presided over by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ai Sandra Clark, Rear Admiral Cheikh Bara Sissoko, Chief of Staff of the Navy, Commander U.S. 6th Fleet, Vice Adm. James Foggo, and Brigadier General Birame Diop, Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Air Force.
Exercise Obangame/Saharan Express is a multinational maritime exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet that brings together African, European, South American, and U.S. forces — part of a Global Network of Navies — to enhance cooperation and expertise in maritime security operations. The purpose of the exercise is to test multinational maritime forces in a broad range of naval operations in order to increase capability and capacity, as a collective whole, for Gulf of Guinea nations to deter piracy, illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats. The exercise will take place throughout the Gulf of Guinea, and will have land-based Maritime Operations Centers throughout the region.
In the past, Obangam Express and Saharan Express were separate exercises that took place in different areas of West Africa. This year they have been combined to increase capacity building for more partners across West Africa.
There are 27 participating nations in Obangame/Saharan Express 2016: Angola, Benin, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Turkey, United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
This Obangame/Saharan Express 2016 exercise will end on March 27 with a symposium in Douala, Cameroon.