Following approval by the Gambia Armed Forces High command, The Gambia Navy participated in a maritime operations exercise code-named the “OBANGAME Express 2018” from Monday 19 to Tuesday 27 March 2018.
The aim of the Exercise was to train and assess the capability of African Navies in maritime interdiction operations. The week long exercise, which was divided into two phases, is an annual naval training exercise sponsored by the United States of America. Phase One of the exercise involved a three-day in-port training and rehearsals. Phase Two was a sea event which comprised scenarios such as anti-piracy, counter narcotics, operation against hostage taking, operation against I.U.U fishing, Proliferation Security Initiative operation, oil platform protection and search and rescue exercise.
This year’s exercise was planned and executed within West and Central African waters, involving African Navies and Coast Guards. The U.S military and other European nations provided support vessels and training teams to assist. A spectrum of training objectives were brought together which at least 17 countries executed, these countries were West and Central African coastal states: Cape Verde , Morocco, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia Ivory coast, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African republic, Benin, Angola Gabon and The Gambia. The Gambia Navy deployed one patrol boat with two boarding teams and Liaison officers who were in the exercise control group in Dakar. A Gambia Armed Forces medical team was also deployed to take part at the in-port training in Dakar.
Cases of illicit maritime activities were core in the scenarios. These tested the capability of sub regional Navies capabilities in force generation at sea and their readiness to handle issues of national and international legal challenges in the maritime domain. It also tested the interoperability of the participating Navies and our European and U.S partners.
The exercise was rated as successful because it gave the Gambia Navy and partners the opportunity to test their communication capabilities as well as search and rescue skills.