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Admiral Calls for Cooperation at Africa Seapower Symposium

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2006 – A U.S. Navy flag officer told senior Navy leaders from more than 20 African countries here yesterday that if they want maritime security, they must "pursue it as a team sport."

"No single country can do it alone, including my own," Navy Adm. Harry Ulrich, commander of Naval Forces Europe and Africa, said in his address to the Seapower for Africa Symposium about maritime safety and security and the importance of maritime domain awareness for the region. Ulrich's emphasized the value of cooperation from all African coastal nations in providing maritime security. "The main reason I'm here is to listen and learn," he added.

The admiral cited significant negative economic consequences of lawlessness in the resource-rich seas of the coast of West Africa, where billions of dollars are lost to illegal fishing, piracy, smuggling and human trafficking annually.

"The sea is important to the livelihood and economic development of countries around the world, but I submit that it is even more so for the countries and peoples of Africa," Ulrich explained. "Your governments are taking steps to protect the environment, such as setting aside rain forests for eco-tourism and stopping poachers in national parks. You recognize the importance of these environmental assets and the need to protect them and to sustain them.

"So, my simple conclusion is, if you can do it on land, you can do it on the sea."

The great challenges in providing security on the sea can be overcome by readily available and relatively inexpensive solutions, and Ulrich added that maritime domain awareness and information sharing are keys to success.

He talked about the automated identification system that, when combined with coastal radar and an existing information sharing network, allows coastal nations to maintain visibility of ships at sea similar to the system in place for aircraft flying internationally.

"The right technology combined with partners committed to working together and sharing information is the first step toward maritime security," Ulrich said.

The seapower symposium is the second time the event has been held - the first occurred in South Africa in 2004. African membership nations rotate hosting the meeting.

(Based on a European Command news release originally from Sixth Fleet Public Affairs Office.)

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