ADM LOEFFLER: Thank you.
MODERATOR: You’re welcome.
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, good morning. It's my pleasure to be here and I thank you all for coming and giving me this opportunity to speak with you. I am the Director for Policy Resources and Strategy for U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and we are headquartered in Naples, Italy. As the U.S. Naval component for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, we do the full spectrum of maritime operations from capacity building, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief to kinetics, if required.
At the moment, we have a number of security cooperation activities ongoing. This is in keeping with the United States national military – or maritime strategy, a cooperative strategy for 21st century sea power, which discusses global maritime partnerships. As you may be aware, 70 percent of the world's surface is ocean, 80 percent of the world's population lives within 100 miles of a coastline, 90 percent of all commercial goods are shipped via sea lanes. So global maritime safety and security is a concern of all nations, not just those with a coastline because all the goods and services travel across the ocean.
As part of the 21st century cooperative strategy for 21st century sea power, it discusses the global maritime partnerships, and this is a traditional Navy mission, navies have been building relationships and trust with other nations since they came into existence. These maritime partnerships are intended to be long-term enduring relationships. You cannot surge trust. It must be built over time and that is the purpose of our security cooperation activities.
There are a number of global maritime partnerships being performed right now, South America with Southern Partnership Station, Pacific Partnership Station in the – out in the Pacific. We have a global maritime partnership in Eurasia in the Black Sea with the countries there, and then the one that I really want to talk to you about this morning is Africa Partnership Station.
As you may be aware, there was over $1.3 billion U.S. worth of fishing – illegal fishing that cost the – in sub-Saharan Africa last year. That's a tremendous amount of resource that could be devoted by a country to benefit its people and improve their infrastructure. Drug trafficking – there's a tremendous increase in the flow of cocaine and other drugs across the southern Atlantic from Central and South America into the African continent and then up to Europe. And so you can see how the things that may be somewhat unrelated in South America could influence Africa across the ocean and then up into Europe. So safety and security in the maritime commons is an issue for all countries, not just those that may appear to be directly involved.
Africa Partnership Station, as I mentioned, is a security cooperation effort that is international in scope. The current Africa Partnership Station effort onboard U.S.S. Nashville has an international staff of over 70 international officers and senior enlisted personnel. The senior staff includes 21 officers and senior enlisted personnel from ten countries in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa region, seven from European partners, and one from South America as well.
So this is truly an international effort to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. The activities of Africa Partnership Station are done at the request of the countries that we will visit. This particular Nashville – Africa Partnership Station effort first started in Dakar, Senegal, then they went to Gabon – I'm sorry, Ghana. Currently, they are in Lagos, Nigeria and they will visit Cameroon, Gabon and then back through Dakar, Senegal. In addition to that, they did not pull into Liberia, but they did offload a small Marine training team to work with the Liberian military and to help them, and they have picked those Marines back up and are there now onboard Nashville.
The wonderful thing about a Navy is that it requires no footprint in a country. A ship operates on the maritime commons. It can enter port, it can perform training activities at the request of the country and then it leaves and then it's gone. So there is no lasting footprint. But what is lasting is the enduring relationships that you build, the trust that you build, the understanding that you acquire.
As with any region or any country, you cannot hope to have an understanding of the environment and what it's like to work and live somewhere unless you've actually been there. The computer age is a wonderful thing, but it's just not the same as actually seeing conditions yourself. But as I mentioned, the training activities that we're doing with Africa Partnership Station Nashville have been at the request of the host country. We have worked very closely with them to develop these training activities so that they receive the training that they want, that they need in order to improve their maritime safety and security.
We have used the approach of a maritime sector development model with four pillars. The first being maritime domain awareness, actually being able to understand what is happening in your maritime environment to include, not just your territorial waters, but your economic exclusion zone. This gets back to the illegal fishing issue that I mentioned. There are fishing vessels in many of the economic exclusion zones of these countries that are taking resource where the country is not adequately recompensed for it. So the first step is being able to understand what's out there.
As you may know, the International Maritime Organization has instituted a system of AIS, automated information systems. It's very similar to what you would find on an aircraft. It's a transponder-like system so that the vessel broadcasts information about the vessel, its course and speed. This is all done in an open and unclassified environment.
A country can – and then it’s available to anyone on the internet. A country could then provide the data – or take the data that they get from AIS, combine that with other information they get from shipping companies and other sources to create knowledge so they will understand the shipping activity that's taking place, not just in their ports, but that's in their territorial waters and economic exclusion zones. They will have a better understanding of what's going on.
We then work with the maritime infrastructure, that's more than just having a harbor; it's having a harbor with a dredged, buoyed channel that commercial traffic can use. It is the piers and the infrastructure to offload and on-load cargo. It's the security at those piers and warehouses so that goods are safe in travel, and it's the road infrastructure to deliver goods once they come into the port.
In addition, we have maritime professionals. Navies of the world have always trained together and worked with each other to develop their professionalism. This is as old the sea services in any country. So by working with each other, we can learn from each other, not just tell them how we would do it in the United States or some other country, but learn from them as well. This is – all the activities we're doing are a two-way exchange of knowledge and information so that we can help each other.
The fourth pillar is a maritime response capability and that's being able to use the knowledge that you have for maritime domain awareness, but combine that with the maritime infrastructure and the maritime professionalism in order to be able to respond to activities in your territorial waters or economic exclusion zones. This could be anything from a search and rescue to a vessel boarding – of a vessel suspected of conducting illegal activity or smuggling.
So this is all about response. What we're not trying to do is just provide countries with stuff because without the training, without the knowledge of how to employ it, it's not as effective as it could be. So this, again, was developed in conjunction with and full collaboration with the countries involved that we’re doing this.
Let's see. I think that's about a good place to stop, and I would be more than happy to entertain questions.
QUESTION: Admiral, I'm Gerry Gilmore. I’m a print journalist for American Foreign Press Service, DOD Public Affairs. You've addressed this in your opening remarks and I just wanted to get a little deeper. There’s been a lot of – AFRICOM – you basically, you're a component of AFRICOM or you work with AFRICOM?
ADM LOEFFLER: We are the naval component for both AFRICOM and European Command.
QUESTION: Okay. There's been a lot of talk or, you know, maybe criticism saying that there's too much of a military component on this, but you said, basically, that navies have cooperated historically, you know, I mean, why the military, because the military – why not the Coast Guard? It’s because that’s where the assets are to do this?
ADM LOEFFLER: That's a great question and --
QUESTION: Because I never hear anyone talk about it.
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, and that -- you have filled in a piece that I neglected to mention.
As part of the international effort in Africa Partnership Station, we – as I mentioned, we have participants from seven European countries, ten African countries and South America, but we also have members of the U.S. Government interagency, we have the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. We have the World Wildlife Fund and other nongovernmental organizations, both inside and outside the United States that are participants in this as well, as well as members of the U.S. Coast Guard. In fact, some of the training activities that are being performed such as environmental oil spill prevention activities are actually being taught by the Italian member of the Africa Partnership Station staff.
So this is an international effort. We work very closely, not just with the host nation, but also with our Department of State colleagues at the – and the country team so that we provide training that is – a we're not just there doing things. This is in accordance with the training, the mission support plan for the Department of State, as well as what the country is trying to get.
So it's not just the U.S. Navy doing this. This is truly an international effort. We have, as I mentioned, U.S. Marines on board in Africa Partnership Station, Ft. McHenry in 2007. We also had a joint medical team that was there doing work with members from the Air Force and the Army. So this is truly an interagency-type effort, not just U.S. Navy.
QUESTION: One more question if I may. You mentioned countries want to monitor, secure their coasts, activities going on offshore like perhaps illegal activities like drug smuggling, arms smuggling, illegal fishing and this is all good for them. How much are we concerned about possible terrorism transit?
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, that’s –
QUESTION: Is that part of it as well?
ADM LOEFFLER: The effort is on maritime safety and security, and so whether or not you would consider some activities terrorist-oriented or not, the idea is to provide the training and the capability so that a nation may govern its own space as it sees best. This is not about the United States trying to say here's what you need to do; this is about providing the capability for them to govern their territory as they see best.
Yes, ma'am. I’m sorry, ladies first. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Constance Ikokwu. I’m from This Day from Nigeria.
ADM LOEFFLER: How wonderful.
QUESTION: From your experience, what is your biggest maritime issue in areas like Nigeria up to the Gulf of Guinea?
ADM LOEFFLER: The – I was just in Lagos and had a wonderful visit there this past week. The issue is one of capacity and most countries in Africa have been very land-centric-oriented. And as such, navies have not received – navies and coast guards have not received as much of support for any number of reasons, and so the navies have been somewhat of an afterthought sometimes because most people see the resources involved from a land base. But when you talk about the illegal fishing activities, again, over $1 billion, billion U.S. dollars last year in sub-Saharan Africa alone, that's a tremendous amount of activity.
By most international reports, there's between 600,000 and 800,000 people that are illegally trafficked even – through either illegal migration, through slavery, other activities that happens in the African region. So those are issues of concern as well. Oil bunkering, I know is a huge --
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
ADM LOEFFLER: -- that’s – I know that's a huge concern to the Nigerian people because oil revenues that are not properly handled don't benefit the people. So by improving the maritime safety and security efforts in the entire Gulf of Guinea region, not just Nigeria, that will benefit all the people of that area.
QUESTION: There's also this impression that the U.S. is quite interested in the Gulf of Guinea because of the huge oil reserves. I don't know what your response to that would be.
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, Africa is, as a whole, has always been of strategic importance to the world and in this day and age as oil resources are used for the benefit of the country, security in that region is a benefit to all people, not just the Africans in the Gulf of Guinea, but throughout the world. So by improving maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea, with all the countries down, there that will benefit all the people not just of the Gulf of Guinea, but of the world. Because, remember, this is a global economy as we've all seen. So it's in all of our best interests to have a secure maritime environment.
And if I may – to get back to an issue that we talked about, this is an international effort with Africa Partnership Station because we have a number of international – or countries that provided, not just people, but this is an enduring effort, this is an ongoing effort and the Dutch have offered up a ship, the Johan De Witt, which is another amphibious ship, which will be doing Africa Partnership Station activities in the Gulf of Guinea and the west coast of Africa later this summer. So even though this global maritime partnership effort started out as a U.S. initiative, this is truly an international effort that's going on and all of the countries are beginning to see the benefit of working to secure the maritime environment.
QUESTION: So one last question.
ADM LOEFFLER: Yes.
QUESTION: But clearly, with oil bunkering in Nigeria, what efforts have been made with the government to do training, you know, what's the situation? We also have the problem of kidnapping and others.
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, by training the Nigerian navy, in particular and helping them improve their capability and capacity, that will provide more security in the Gulf of Guinea, and so the more security there is there, the less opportunity there will be for people to do illegal activities, such as oil bunkering or illegal fishing, smuggling, either people or drugs. So that will improve the security environment for Nigeria, as well as the other countries of the Gulf of Guinea.
This is a building block approach. We have – we will provide training, this time as I mentioned, we’re just – Nashville is just completing its efforts in Lagos. We will be back again this summer. As I mentioned, this is an enduring effort, this is not just a one time effort. Fort McHenry was there in 2007 and 2008. Nashville is here now. The USS Swift, the high-speed vessel will be in the Gulf of Guinea this summer. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Legare will be in the Gulf of Guinea, west coast of Africa region later this year. USS Gunston Hall, another amphibious ship will be in the west coast of Africa later this calendar year.
The USS Robert G. Bradley, a frigate, made a circumnavigation of Africa and stopped in Cape Town, South Africa; in Maputo, Mozambique; and as such, she was the first U.S. naval vessel to tie up pier side in Mozambique in the last 35 years. She also visited Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and did training activities in the Comoros, as well as Mombasa, Kenya and Djibouti, Djibouti. So she is bringing the Africa Partnership Station concept to the south and east coast of Africa as well.
So this is, as I mentioned, global maritime partnerships are all about building these enduring relationships so that we can understand each other and work with each other better.
Did that get to your --
ADM LOEFFLER: Yes, sir?
QUESTION: J. Santa Rita with the Portuguese Service of Voice of America. I think about a year or so ago there were a number of stories regarding the U.S. desire to have (inaudible) facilities off the west coast of Africa, a small base station or something. Is there any truth to that?
ADM LOEFFLER: No. Africa Partnership Station is about building capability and capacity. As I mentioned, the wonderful thing about a naval vessel is the fact that it requires no footprint ashore. And so by building the capability and capacity of these individual countries, they will be able to perform the security activities in their own waters and territories themselves.
And so the fact that we have an international effort to help train and provide this capability and capacity, again, underlies the importance that what happens in the maritime commons is important to all nations. This is a collaborative effort. So this is not about building bases in a country.
QUESTION: And the second question – in terms of the Department of Defense as a whole, I mean, this is a very small effort and do you find difficulties in having Africa regarded as an important part of the overall American strategy?
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, when you look at – as I mentioned, I talked about the number of U.S. naval vessels that have been in the Gulf of Guinea region since we started this program in late 2006, early 2007. The Dutch are going to participate as well. There are other U.S. Navy training activities taking place in Northern Africa, as well as in Eastern Africa. So I believe that the United States and our other international partners see the importance of providing this maritime governance capability to the countries of West and Central Africa, in particular.
QUESTION: I have one last question. Do you have a sort of – in terms of countries, would you give priority to certain countries – I mean, to – say, to regional powers or would you treat them (inaudible)?
ADM LOEFFLER: Every country is important. There are leaders in every region. Nigeria, for example, is a leader in the Gulf of Guinea region. And we work, as I said, very closely with all countries, but we also work with the regional organizations such as the Africa Union, the Economic Community of West Africa, the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa. So this is a collaborative effort. We are participants with the (inaudible) Foundation of South Africa, along with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies here in the United States to assist their efforts in drafting a maritime strategy for Africa and this is being approached on a regional basis because a – you know, Africa just like any continent, a one size fits all will not work. And so – but we're working collaboratively with these organizations.
Yes, sir. Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Jackie Porth with America.gov. I wondered if in you’re – in training component, have any of the African nations asked specifically for any counter-piracy help or have we suggested it. Is that a component?
ADM LOEFFLER: That's a great question. There is no real training for counter-piracy operations. The maritime safety and security efforts that are being done, vessel boarding procedures, maritime domain awareness, understanding what's happening and the response capability to patrol and understand what is happening in your waters, those all serve to deter piratical acts, but it’s – there is not a training course for anti-piracy operations per se, but it's just a governance issue and being able to control your territorial waters and economic zones.
QUESTION: And if I could follow up. Could you talk a little bit about the humanitarian assistance aspect and also focus on the community outreach on specific topics?
ADM LOEFFLER: Yes, ma'am. Nashville, in this case, and Gunston or Fort McHenry before her, both carried materials from Project Handclasp. I believe Fort McHenry carried over 20 tons of Project Handclasp material. Nashville has, I believe, a greater amount than that and they are – these are donations from various organizations in the United States that are carried as part of an opportune lift at no cost to the organization by the U.S. Navy and delivered to each of these countries.
As part of the outreach activities while Africa Partnership Station ships are in port, the crews will do community relations activities, everything from helping to rebuild schools and medical clinics, orphanages, do painting and roof repair work, and these are all coordinated with the host nation and the U.S. country team involved so that it's not just driving down a road and going, hey, we can do something here. This is all done with a purpose to help the country as they would like it to be done.
So – and this is something – these type of activities are things that naval vessels do and U.S. Navy sailors do all over the world. This is not just unique to Africa Partnership Station, but the U.S. Navy has been doing that for many, many years.
In terms of disaster assistance, Fort McHenry brought Project – was part of the Project Handclasp million meals effort last year that donated, that transported and delivered meals, foodstuffs where required. The thing about disaster assistance is you never know where that's going to be needed and so these are activities that can be performed at any time by a U.S. naval vessel and many – and most other navies as well. This is something that we've done for years.
QUESTION: As I listen to you and I visit your colleague, General (inaudible) --
MODERATOR: Your name and your organization.
MODERATOR: Your name and organization.
QUESTION: Oh, hi, my name is Dubase. I’m with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. As I listen to you and previously I listened to General (inaudible), your emphasis seem to be in areas in West and East Africa, around that area, where they talk about maritime safety, where they talk about perhaps one (inaudible) region. Is it where you have identified an immediate challenge there or is it where the need is more urgent?
ADM LOEFFLER: That's a great question. As I said, we are performing these training and partnership activities at the request of the host nation. So the work that we're doing in the Gulf of Guinea is at the request of Nigeria, Gabon, Guinea. This is not any type of a needs assessment by the United States that these activities are needed here more than somewhere else. This is with the realization that the countries involved have asked for capability and capacity training efforts and the United States has responded to these requests.
Does that answer your question? I was just in Cape Town at the end of February and had a very nice visit with the naval staff in Simons Town.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on my question? Feedback from the African nations’ officials are at the lower level. What kind of feedback?
ADM LOEFFLER: There has been a tremendously positive reception in all the countries that we have participated in. In fact, from the first efforts with Fort McHenry, there were additional requests by countries for we would like to do more or we would like for you to include us as well. And so this is a – it appears to be very positively received because, as I mentioned, all these training activities are specifically requested by the country and we are building on the training that has been provided in the last effort on the next time around, so this is not doing the same thing over and over again. This is building on what has been previously done.
QUESTION: My name is Samuel Tesfaye with the Pan African Link. Is it – are you in negotiation – my question is regarding AFRICOM. Are you involved in any negotiation with the host countries or could you tell us about that?
ADM LOEFFLER: That's a great question. As I mentioned earlier, U.S. Naval forces Europe and Africa is headquartered at Naples, Italy and the wonderful thing about a naval presence is ships require no footprint ashore. So a naval vessel can come into port, provide training and then leave and there is no residual presence.
Our headquarters has been in Naples for a number of years and I anticipate it staying there. And AFRICOM, as you know, is in Stuttgart, Germany and they have stated that that there's where they're staying. There is no intent to build a headquarters on the African continent.
QUESTION: I was just wondering, who bears the cost of all the training and services, the host country or is there kind of a partnership, financial partnership between the U.S.? Then secondly, I don't know if you are aware about the Africa standby force, which South Africa wants to build. Have they made any requests, you know, to receive training on that because they have said they prefer that to AFRICOM in Africa. They want to have South Africa’s standby force that will directly respond to issues on the continent.
ADM LOEFFLER: That’s great. Those are great questions. With regard to the cost, this is a U.S., I mean, the U.S. Navy would be deployed. They would be doing training activities in whatever location they're in and so this is just a – this is what the U.S. Navy does. So there is no reimbursement for their efforts. This is a collaborative, international effort. So each country that donates personnel to this effort does so with their own funding, but there is no bill sent for the training that is offered and it's a team effort.
With regard to the African standby force, that is certainly an example of Africa being able to deal with Africa issues. As I mentioned, Africa has been land focused, and as such, is very concerned with ground forces. But what Africa Partnership Station is about is the maritime environment and so we are providing the training so each country can develop its own capability and capacity to deal with its maritime environment. So there’s really not a relation between Africa Partnership Station and the Africa standby force.
QUESTION: This question would be regarding Somalia and the piracy issue. Is there like a coordination among the countries who send a ship, you know, to fight the piracy? And there are a number of countries involved in maintaining security around that area. Could you take us there and explain with a lot of countries involved with (inaudible) piracy?
ADM LOEFFLER: I can't speak specifically to the activities of Somalia, but I can tell you in a general basis that navies of the world are used to operating together, whether they are part of a similar task force or they are just individual ships operating in proximity to one another, but navies have done that for centuries. They are used to it. There is a very professional environment. It’s part of the maritime service. So we welcome the opportunity to work with warships or other vessels of any navy in the world.
QUESTION: You mentioned early on, I believe, the World Wildlife Fund. How do they fit into this and maybe some of the other NGOs are actually doing?
ADM LOEFFLER: They – in terms of, you know, there's a number of maritime parks throughout Africa, the maritime environment, and so we work collaboratively with them in terms of environmental response so that if there is an oil spill, for example, that the appropriate response could be provided to limit environmental damage. That's probably the best example I can think of. But again, this is a collaborative effort. This is not just about military-to-military activities, but this is a whole government approach, interagency effort to deal with the maritime issues.
QUESTION: I have a very technical one. What's the Nashville?
ADM LOEFFLER: Oh, thank you. (Laughter.) The USS Nashville, it's a landing platform dock. It is an amphibious vessel and the wonderful thing about using amphibious ships for these training efforts is that they have a large classroom capability onboard and so you can host a large number of people at the same time. They're also somewhat shallow draft. So it's not an issue of bringing them into ports.
Yes, ma'am. Please.
QUESTION: With oil bunkering, do you think that the problem is that the country that has the problem lacks the capability or, indeed, the lack of political will to actually do something about it because it is a huge problem in our area?
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, I'm not able to speak on the political will issue because that's not what we do. The – in the case of Nigeria, you have a tremendously capable navy, but they have requested training opportunities in collaboration with the United States and other international partners and so that's what we're providing them.
QUESTION: You talked about some of the future ship visits that are coming up through the end of the year, can you mention some specific projects or where there still has been a building block?
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, as I mentioned, Senegal, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe. We were – we’ve started the initial Africa Partnership Station venture in South and East Africa as I mentioned with – in Maputo, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa. As the word of these collaborative training efforts becomes more widespread, we're having more requests from countries to participate in these training opportunities.
So it appears to be very well received. And as I said, this is something the navies have done for years to build these partnerships, these enduring relationships so that you can understand each other, learn from each other and provide a more secure environment for all people.
I didn't mention one thing, but I think that gets to something that you said. All of these activities are done in an unclassified, open environment. There is no private, U.S.-only or coalition-only effort here. This is all unclassified so that anyone can participate in these efforts.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Russian naval projects. (Inaudible?) And the second question (inaudible) piracy and maritime security in the (inaudible) you know, west and east coast of Africa?
ADM LOEFFLER: Well, as I mentioned – you may not have been here. But Africa Partnership Station is an ongoing effort. It started in late 2006, early 2007 with USS Fort McHenry, high speed vessel Swift. Nashville is in West and Central Africa now. High speed vessel Swift will be back in West and Central Africa this summer.
The Dutch have provided the amphibious ship Johan De Witt and they will be operating as part of Africa Partnership Station later this year and USS Gunston Hall, another U.S. amphibious ship, will be the next large amphibious ship late this year and into 2010.
The USS Robert G. Bradley has been down – or up the East Coast of Africa starting in Maputo, Mozambique, Dar es Salaam, the Comoros islands, Mombasa, Kenya, Djibouti, Djibouti. There are ongoing efforts. The U.S. Coast Guard vessel Legare will be in West and Central Africa this year as well, and there are future Africa Partnership Station efforts planned beyond 2010. This is about ongoing, enduring relationships.
I'm not prepared to speak on any piracy, anti-piracy patrols. That's not part of what we're doing here with Africa Partnership Station.
MODERATOR: We have time for one more question.
QUESTION: I was about to ask you about the piracy question.
ADM LOEFFLER: Okay, well, hopefully I answered that. You know, there are – it’s an international effort and that's all I can say on that.
MODERATOR: Admiral, thank you very much.
ADM LOEFFLER: Thank you all very much. I appreciate this. Thank you.