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  • Telephonic press briefing discussing U.S. partnerships with African nations to strengthen partner capacity, uphold the rules-based order, and facilitate the free flow of commerce.

Download or listen to the audio file here .

Moderator:  Good afternoon, everyone, from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub.  I would like to welcome our participants dialing in from across the continent and thank all of you for joining this discussion.

Today we are very pleased to be joined by Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Admiral Robert P. Burke, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples.  Admiral Schultz and Admiral Burke will discuss U.S. partnerships with African nations to strengthen partner capacity, uphold the rules-based order, and facilitate the free flow of commerce.  Admiral Schultz and Admiral Burke are speaking to us from Naples, Italy.

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from Admiral Schultz and Admiral Burke, and then we will turn to your questions.  We will try to get to as many of them as we can during the time that we have today.

As a reminder, today’s call is on the record.  And with that, I will turn it over to Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, for his opening remarks.

Admiral Schultz:  Greetings and thank you to our moderator, Ms. Marissa Scott.  I’m honored to be joined by Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, Admiral Robert Burke.  We jointly serve as complementary members of America’s Naval Service to highlight healthy economies, good governance, and self-reliance of the 54 countries who make up the continent of Africa.  Together, we are committed to upholding a rules-based system that promotes peace, security, prosperity, and the sovereignty of all nations. 

For over 230 years, the United States Coast Guard has promoted the free and open use of the global common maritime spaces and helped like-minded partners and allies strengthen their capacity to uphold and assert their own sovereignty.  When we sail, the iconic angled racing stripe that marks the bow of every Coast Guard vessel since 1967 now serves as a global symbol for maritime security and governance.  The U.S. Coast Guard’s distinct contribution is through our people; that irreplaceable human connection of training, exchanges, and support that demonstrates enduring commitment to face global challenges together.

Our work on the African continent preserves peace through sustained and transparent engagement to advance maritime governance.  For over a decade, we have proudly supported the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership that is sponsored by United States Africa Command and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa.  The U.S. Coast Guard’s expansive authorities, capabilities, technical expertise, and international relationships have helped over 30 countries across the African continent improve law enforcement capacity and governance of their maritime environment.  In the past four years alone, the U.S. Coast Guard has sent 45 mobile training teams to 16 different countries and provided 350 days of direct operational support with employed cutters or law enforcement detachments.

Most recently, in August our 270-foot United States Coast Guard Cutter Bear conducted training and joint patrols at the request of the Republic of Cabo Verde Government to enhance maritime domain awareness and combat transnational organized crime.  Just last year, our Medium Endurance Cutter Thetis conducted a joint operation to reduce piracy and monitor fishing fleets in the Gulf of Guinea with a Nigerian navy ship, which was formerly a Coast Guard high endurance cutter that was transferred in 2011 as an Excess Defense Article.

A key focus of our work with our African partners has been illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing – what we call IUU fishing.  IUU fishing is a criminal enterprise that weakens the global rules-based order and threatens the sovereignty and economic security of many African nations with a maritime nexus. 

Fish are a strategic global resource.  Regions such as West Africa contain several highly productive fisheries that provide as much as 60 to 70 percent of the region’s protein supply.  IUU fishing undermines the ability of maritime states – in Africa and around the world – to achieve their own domestic food security.  Loss of that security can destabilize the fragile economies of many coastal states.  Total IUU fishing accounts for between one-third and one-half of the overall catch and an estimated annual loss of $2.3 billion alone in West Africa.

It is also symptomatic of a larger security vulnerability, particularly those who currently have limited capacity to patrol their maritime domain or apprehend and prosecute criminal actors.  IUU fishing often happens in concert with other illicit activities, including the atrocities of human trafficking and forced labor, as well as the smuggling of illegal substances. 

We become particularly concerned when IUU is perpetrated or abetted by state actors.  Such states may use government resources to support unlawful fishing operations, encourage or assist their commercial fishing fleets to violate sovereign waters and exclusive economic zones, obtain dubious licensing and other certifications through illegal arrangements with corrupt officials, or even intimidate legitimate local fishermen using armed vessels and unsafe navigation practices.

IUU actors operate in the shadows, which is why we need a broad network of partners to eradicate this threat to our collective prosperity.  Together, we can spotlight bad actors and root out this illicit behavior.  World leaders and regional maritime security agencies must not allow the normalization of illegal behavior that erodes responsible maritime governance.  The United States Coast Guard will make best use of our collective efforts with like-minded partners to protect sovereignty, support cooperative enforcement of international laws, and drive stability, legitimacy, and order.

However, there’s nobody better suited to speak to America’s enduring commitment in the region than Admiral Burke, who serves as the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa. 


Admiral Burke:  Thanks, Karl.  I appreciate the introduction.  And it’s great to be here today with Admiral Schultz.  The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have a long tradition of working together, and I’m proud to call Karl a great friend.

Our Navy and Coast Guard are working hard alongside our African partners to improve maritime security in Africa.  Maritime security is critical to the African continent, yet, as Admiral Shultz noted, we face serious challenges ranging from piracy to the IUU fishing, as Admiral Schultz described, even including trafficking of arms and narcotics, or all the way up to and including terrorist activity.  

Seaborne trade is the absolute lifeblood of commerce.  More than 90 percent of global trade travels on the seas.  When maritime trade freely sails across the oceans, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible.  Illicit activity undermines stability and economic development and sets the foundation for nefarious activities as well.  

We must cooperate to overcome these security challenges.  Here at Naval Forces Africa, we’re proud of the work we do with our partners.  Last year the USNS Carson City deployed to the Gulf of Guinea with U.S. Coast Guard sailors on board who are absolutely instrumental to the success of the mission.  As Admiral Schultz stated, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear did great work in the region this summer, just as Coast Guard Cutter Thetis did last spring.  And right now, the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is in the Gulf of Guinea working with African partners.  

We have an exercise program with our partners in Africa which we call the Express Series.  Along the West African coast it’s called Obangame Express, and in coast East Africa it’s Cutlass Express.  In North African waters we call the series Phoenix Express.  Each of these exercise series address a number of law enforcement-related scenarios, including smuggling, illicit fishing, and piracy.  And the U.S. Coast Guard plays a major role throughout.  During the exercise, U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachments assist with training ashore and underway, whether it’s on Coast Guard vessels or Navy vessels and aircraft.  

We’re proud to be teammates with U.S. Coast Guard here at Naval Forces Africa.  The U.S. Coast Guard is working with many African maritime law enforcement teams because they’re good at maritime governance and they want to share their skills, and their new strategy is key to addressing issues in the region.  Policing waters is more than just catching pirates or stopping illegal fishing.  It’s a sovereignty issue and it’s vital to preserving freedom of navigation and maintaining precious resources for future generations.  

Governance and enforcement are both critical for the success of the blue economy.  The vast scale of the region and the global importance of the challenges mean that we all have to cooperate and work together to achieve the common goal, which is maritime security and stability.  We still have more to do and I look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. Coast Guard and all of our African partners.  Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you, Admiral Schultz and Admiral Burke.  We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call.  For those asking questions, please state your name and affiliation and limit yourself to one question related to the topic of today’s briefing: U.S. partnerships with African nations to strengthen partner capacity, uphold the rules-based order, and facilitate the free flow of commerce.

Our first question will go to one of our questions that was sent in by Dean Winfred of Web Defence in South Africa.  The question is, “What cooperative engagement does the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy have with the South African defense and security services, as well as with other Southern African countries?

Admiral Schultz:  Well, Admiral Schultz here.  I’ll take the first stab at that.  The Coast Guard currently is not partnering with South African defense and security services, or others in South Africa.  But in general, we welcome opportunities to partner in areas of mutual concern and our Africa efforts are part of a broader, larger strategy of global engagement.  So, I would say interest could be facilitated through our embassies in the South Africa region for potential future opportunities.  

Admiral Burke:  On the – this is Admiral Burke.  On the Navy side, the USS Carney, one of our forward-deployed naval forces destroyers, completed port visits to Port Victoria, Seychelles, and Cape Town, South Africa, in March of this year, and she did that while she was in the process of circumnavigating the African continent after she had done deployment operations supporting the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.  Our visit in South Africa in particular was an effort to open a dialogue with South African officials, the South African navy in particular, and begin the conversation of how to build a lasting naval relationship.  Toward that end, that visit yielded an agreement for a future visit.  We’re still working out the particulars of that future visit, but we expect sometime in 2021 we’ll conduct a subsequent visit to South Africa, but the particulars haven’t been established yet.  But I think there’s a lot of opportunity there, as Admiral Schultz said, and as we get that up and running in South Africa we’ll look to expand that to other partners in the region just as soon as we can.

Moderator:  Thank you.  The next question is also a question emailed to us from Ethiopia, from Silibat Manaye of Fana Broadcasting.  The question is, “How does the U.S. Navy fight the pirates in western and eastern parts of Africa with the African navy?”

Admiral Burke:  Our primary efforts at establishing maritime security is through working with the African nations and teaching them the techniques, the tactics, the procedures for all the essential elements to provide their own security in their own territorial waters, and also to help them preserve their own sovereign rights and their exclusive economic zone.  So that includes the ability to have situational awareness of what’s happening in their territorial waters and in their exclusive economic zones and setting up, for example, the systems necessary to have good maritime domain awareness, as we call it, of who’s operating, when and where in their waters.  And then, to become self-sufficient at either challenging those that are there that may be there without a legal basis for being there, and then, ultimately, building the capability to go out and intercept, and if you take this to the logical conclusion, if necessary, board and, if warranted, take it through to a legal process, and that’s where the Coast Guard really comes in with their expertise in the law enforcement aspects of this.

So depending on what part of Africa we’re talking about – and on the eastern part of Africa, the naval capabilities are a little bit more nascent there – they each have capabilities to varying degrees and are capable of doing this to various extents, and we continue to work with them to get better at each of those skill sets, and then to not just improve those capabilities but then to expand their capacity.  And each of those exercise series that we talk about are designed to do exactly that: build the basic blocking and tackling skills, to use a sports analogy, and then once the individuals know what they’re doing, then to build the teamwork necessary so that the team can function not just within a particular nation, but nation to nation, so you build the ability for each nation to work with all the other nations in the region so that they can look out after each other.  

That’s what we work towards in those exercise series.  The Coast Guard brings tremendous capability and expertise to help us in that mission, as do other partners, including our European partners, naval partners, other African partners, and it’s a real team effort.

Admiral Schultz:  And the only thing I would add to that – Admiral Schultz here – just an example.  So, from the authorities, a current partner nation that we’re working deeply with is Kenya, and sector security assistance with the State Department funds.  We’ve gone in and we’ve done an assessment of the Kenyan maritime service coast guard, what are their existing authorities.  We send some of their folks back to the United States for in-resident training.  We have mobile training teams here that help develop the Kenyan maritime service coast guard skills that Admiral Burke spoke about – the ability to do maritime law enforcement, the ability to do boardings and searches at sea, and then, ultimately, when there’s violations of Kenyan crime, potentially prosecution.  So, we are a complementary effort to the Sixth Fleet NAV Africa global work over here.  That’s sort of what the Coast Guard brings, those special skills, that years of experience in maritime law enforcement and maritime security operations.

Moderator:  Thank you.  We will go now to live questions from our participating journalists.  The next question goes to Mr. Nhu Nguyen of OEC, Vietnam.

Question:  Hello?  Can you hear me?  Hello?

Moderator:  Yes, we can hear you.  Please ask your question.

Question:  Okay.  My question [inaudible] the Admiral Schultz and Admiral Burke.  Can any of you provide some data on Chinese [inaudible] in port and protecting boats and [inaudible] fishing vessels as evidence of policy and [inaudible] area at – exposed in the media recently.  Several Chinese fishing fleet currently operated in Ghana and [inaudible] companies using local vessels to go into water for fishing.  What can you comment on the safety of Chinese?  What can the U.S. do to persuade a country like Ghana or Senegal to stop granting fishing licenses to Chinese companies?  Thank you. 

Moderator:  Just to our principals, were you able to understand that question?

Admiral Schultz:  Marissa, we got – this is Admiral Schultz.  We got bits and parts.  If it’s – I got the sense it was a question about IUU fishing, but could you just give us sort of the wave tops on what the question was and we’ll take a shot at answering it?

Moderator:  Yes.  I’m going to ask —

Question:  Yes, I —

Moderator:  I’m going to ask the caller – Nhu, just one second.  Just if you can condense the question to the essence of your question, because I had a hard time understanding it as well.  Please re-ask your question.  Thank you.

Question:  Yes.  My question involves the illegal fishing of Chinese vessels in the area, in West Africa.  And there, I got information that several Chinese fishing firms, fishing companies, are currently operated in Ghana and [inaudible] using local boats for going into water for fishing.  So, what do you comment on the safety with China and the many, many complaints on the local treatment that the Chinese are almost gone, the fishing resource?  And as you mentioned that as a result of [inaudible], so I was wondering if you have any comment on this.

Admiral Schultz:  Okay.  Marissa, I’ll take a shot at this.  Admiral Schultz.  So, I would say this.


Moderator:  Okay, I’m going to take a – okay, I just wanted to synthesize that question from what I gathered.

Admiral Schultz:  Okay.

Moderator:  She’s asking about illegal fishing and Chinese vessels specifically in Ghana and its effect on local fishing industries, if I heard it correctly.  Thank you.

Admiral Schultz:  Sure, I think that’s what I took away as well.  I would say this.  So IUU fishing continues to be a pervasive security threat.  It’s a threat to the economics, the environmental threat to all nations.  It’s particularly problematic for developing coastal states, and I think the west coast of Africa is an area with high incidence of IUU fishing activity.  The question was specifically for China, but I would tell you our interest is to shine a light and illuminate illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing activity across the globe.  It is a fact that China has the largest distant-water fleet, and that’s 4,600 vessels.  There’s also estimates of up to 16,000 vessels that show Chinese characteristics that some are stateless, some have done some things with flag states.  

We are concerned with like-minded nations developing the capacity to thwart these illegal activities.  We put out a 10-year strategic outlook that talks about effective law enforcement operations.  We want to help the African partner nations develop their own organic capabilities to look at that intelligence-driven operations.  We also are looking at predatory and irresponsible state behavior, whether that’s China or any other nation that’s involved with illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing.  A lot of that is putting light on the opaqueness or the lack of transparency.  And then really, the third element here is about building a community – a community of interests of like-minded nation-states, academic institutions, NGOs that really build a team that’s interested in this global food sustainment.  Forty percent of the world’s nations derive much of their protein from the sea.  These are resources that don’t have infinite quantities.  So, we need the – 93 percent of the world’s fishing resources are over-exploited, over-extended today.  

So, this is an important issue.  I’m going to shy away from just speaking specifically to the China aspect.  This is any nation that’s an illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing bad actor.  We want to get after that in a group, as a coalition of like-minded partners, Marissa.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Thank you.

Admiral Schultz:  I’m not sure if Admiral Burke, do you want to comment to that at all?

Admiral Burke:  Yeah, I think Admiral Schultz really covered the spectrum well.  I think, again, this isn’t new.  IUU fishing is not new.  But it has a profound effect on the security of any country that’s a victim of it, any country that has a maritime boundary, and it challenges that nation’s ability to achieve its own domestic food security.  It also threatens global geopolitical security and it erodes the competitiveness in global markets, and ultimately, it undermines international rules-based order.  But in particular, as Admiral Schultz pointed out, when you’re talking about a developing nation – and that’s particularly the case for many of the African nations, like Ghana – these actions harm the economic growth of our African partners and they threaten their livelihood.  A more developed nation may be able to absorb this in the short term, but it has a proportionately larger short-term impact and more immediate and more profound impact on these developing nations that are dependent on the blue economy.  

We expect all nations to respect international rules and norms, and that’s what’s necessary to promote economic development in Africa instead of undercutting it.  Thanks.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Before we move on to our next question that was sent to us, I just – my team clarified the bottom portion of Ms. Nguyen’s question, which was about Chinese boats that are being registered as local boats.  Not necessary to answer now, but something that we may be able to come back to her with.  But that was the bottom part of the question:  What are we doing to combat local boats, Chinese boats that are being registered as local boats, specifically in Ghana, just to clarify.

All right.  Our next question sent to us online is coming from Gabon, from Yves Laurent Goma.  The question – of  The question is, “Several military exercises have been conducted in the Gulf of Guinea to deal with maritime situational awareness and piracy.  Can you envisage the establishment of a small and permanent unit in the region to help countries on the Gulf of Guinea efficiently tackle that issue?”

Admiral Schultz:  So, this is Admiral Schultz.  I would say the Coast Guard, the United States Coast Guard, we support initiatives to support good maritime governance, and those that are developed organically by partner nations – that is a great place to start.  We look to – when we’re speaking specifically to the Gulf of Guinea, we look at the Yaounde Code of Conduct, which brings together signatory nations from West and Central Africa with an intent to fully cooperate on all threats in the maritime domain: maritime terrorism, IUU fishing, et cetera.  And we want to continue to work with those foundational regional organizations that underpin that architecture.  That’s the ECOWAS, that’s the Economic Community of West African States.  Likewise, for Eastern and Central African states, the Gulf of Guinea Commission.  So that is a space where building off organic interest, and capability and capacity, that is a great place to start and build out from.

Admiral Burke?

Admiral Burke:  Yeah, I would just reinforce Admiral Schultz’s point.  Our goal is to support other nations developing abilities to have their homegrown maritime domain awareness and ability to defend their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.  And that’s really what we’re striving for: self-sufficiency.  

I’ll give you an example of a recent success story.  The 10 pirates that attacked on a motor vessel off of Cote d’Ivoire – I think it was roughly two months ago – and the pirates directed the boat to Nigerian waters.  A number of maritime operating centers along the Gulf of Guinea cooperated together because they did have maritime domain awareness.  They had a picture of what was happening.  They had radio communications.  They coordinated with each other.  And because of that coordination along the Gulf of Guinea coastline between the nations’ respective maritime operating centers, they were able to put together intercepts that ultimately led to NIMASA and Nigerian naval forces intercepting and effecting an arrest of these pirates that are about to face court.

So that’s a success story of Africans taking African matters in their own hands and seeing it through to a successful, law-based conclusion, and that’s exactly kind of the graduate-level exercise in our mind.

That said, what we’re also looking to do is help bring the manner in which we teach and exercise and bring partners to each region of Africa to help make it a little bit more organized and coherent.  We’ve got a lot of European nations that visit and come and help; the United States Navy and Coast Guard are there periodically.  And sometimes we’re coming with slightly different syllabus in hand, and sometimes we’re picking up at a different part in the syllabus, and it’s confusing to the nations.  

So through my NATO hat here at NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, NATO is very, very interested in the security – maritime and land-based security – of Africa.  And we have a NATO Strategic Direction South function, which we refer to as the African hub, which is really designed at helping Africans identify solutions to African problems and bringing together all the right players – regional political leaders, military leaders, academic experts, whatever it takes to solve those issues.  And we’re using that NATO organization to bring together U.S. Navy, European navies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and others to further organize and refine this.  And I think although that won’t result in a permanent presence in the region, what you’ll see is an increased and more organized presence in the region.  

Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Our next question was sent to us from the LUSA News Agency out of Portugal, from Elena Lentza.  “News reports from last week say that the U.S., represented by the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, have asked Zimbabwe to help fight terrorists in northern Mozambique.  Is this something that can happen in the near future?  Is the Cabo Delgado issue something that your operations can monitor or guide?”

Admiral Burke:  Yeah, this is – this is Admiral Burke.  We’re really going to focus today’s media event on the IUU fishing issue and the Coast Guard’s efforts to combat IUU fishing and how Naval Forces Africa works with African partners, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other partners to work to solve that.  I would really refer that question to the U.S. AFRICOM Command, and they’re in a better position to answer that question.  Thanks so much.


Moderator:  Thank you.  We’ll go back to our questions sent online from Mr. Dean Winfred of Web Defence, South Africa.  The question is, “What impact has COVID-19 had with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy exercises and engagement with African countries?”

Admiral Schultz:  So, this is Admiral Schultz with the United States Coast Guard.  I would say first and foremost, while the pandemic has been challenging, our forces have been very resilient and it has not kept us down.  We’ve most recently to wit, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Bear in the month of Africa, working with the Cabo Verdian Government, patrolling with – we have two Cabo Verdian ship-riders on board.  We were involved in multiple interdictions, boardings at sea, one potential counternarcotics case.  So, we are continuing to push ships forward to the African continent and other parts of the globe.  What I would say is we have been forced to cancel a few activities here on the continent.  We canceled three mobile training team evolutions and 15 resident courses, unfortunately.  But we are always looking for ways to conduct those trainings virtually when and where we can.

Admiral Burke:  This is Admiral Burke.  On the Naval Forces Africa side of it, again, all of the U.S. naval vessels operating around the world have been largely unimpacted by this.  We had a learning curve early on and we rapidly learned how to properly quarantine ahead of deployments, and then once our ships were deployed, really control who was coming on the ship for maintenance, for food onloads and how to control that to prevent any COVID introduction vectors from infecting our crews.  And we remain deployed around the world with really no infections of our forward-deployed ships. That said, because we do take such serious measures with respect to limiting the ways in which an infection could be introduced to a ship, which is a very confined space, we have to look at when they visit ports, how you establish bubbles for crews to get some time off the ship and relax and things like that.  And depending on what location they’re in, we do that in different ways, but we do take measures to protect them.

Specifically with respect to exercises in the African area, we were able to conduct the majority of what we wanted to do in Africa with the exception of a number of portions of Obangame Express, which was scheduled for really late summer and early fall this year, and COVID really just wasn’t going to allow us to have the person-to-person interaction that we needed to have for the training for the law enforcement techniques, the boarding techniques, the person-to-person hands-on training that we needed to do.  So, we postponed a number of the operational portions of that and we’ll regroup for March of 2021.  

We continue to conduct at-sea exercises at sea with our allied and partner navies that didn’t have a lot of person-to-person interaction.  And I would tell you that the vast majority of our at-sea exercises fall into that category.  But Obangame Express, for the types of training we were doing, was particularly hands-on related so that had a disproportional impact.

We did, though, preserve a senior leadership symposium for Obangame Express, which we just held virtually a couple of weeks ago, and we had – I’m going to get the exact numbers wrong.  We have something in the order of 12 African heads of navy, a couple of African chiefs of defense.  There were U.S. flag officers, in addition to myself, and general officers from Marine Corps and other services in attendance.  And it was a very good two-day senior leaders symposium focused on African maritime security concerns, and it was very productive, and I think that’s going to end up being an outstanding scene-setter for when we regroup with the operational portion in March of this coming year.

Thank you.

Moderator:  Thank you.  We have one more live question to take from Mr. Danh Le of Zing News out of Vietnam.

Question:  Hello, thank you for taking my questions.  You mentioned state-backed fishing fleets endangering fishing reserves and maritime security.  So how are the U.S. identifying and tackling the state factor of this worldwide issue?  Thank you.

Moderator:  To our speakers, were you able to understand the question?

Admiral Schultz:  Yes, Marissa, I think we got it.  We were just clarifying here to make sure we understood it correctly.  So, this is Admiral Schultz.  In terms of state-sponsored ship, we obviously are keenly interested in countering any predatory and irresponsible state behavior.  A flag state has the responsibility to understand what their vessels – let’s say their distant-water fleet is operating 9,000 miles from their home base.  A flag state has responsibility to be aware of those activities, legal and otherwise, and I think we’re not necessarily seeing that across the globe.  So, that’s the first place I think some of the behaviors to correct that or channel that in a construction direction is to, first, to understand it and shine a light on it, illuminate it.  It’s – we also have states that demonstrate antagonistic or coercive behaviors.  They make deals in back rooms with elements of local governments, usually governments without a lot of bandwidth or capacity, and maybe they sell some fishing rights for a short-term local or regional benefit, but really a detrimental long-term impact.

So, we want to start by building this coalition of like-minded partners that illuminate these bad state actors, and then we have a conversation on a regional or a global level to change behavior.  So, I think that’s where this starts, and that’s a very important part of this.  That’s – our strategic outlook that identifies three lines of effort, that second line of effort is exactly the predatory irresponsible state behavior, leaning in and actioning that.  

Moderator:  Thank you.

Admiral Burke:  And not much to add from the – yes, I was going to say not much to add from the Navy perspective.  It’s exactly the same view we have here.  It’s the state’s responsibility for them to meet the obligations under the international laws and treaties, and when we identify it, we’re going to bring it to the attention of our other government agencies to deal with it on a state-to-state basis.  Over.

Moderator:  Thank you.  At this time we’ll go to the final remarks of our principals.  Admiral Schultz, Admiral Burke, do either of you have closing remarks?

Admiral Schultz:  Sure.  This is Admiral Schultz.  I’ll just kick it off by saying the United States Coast Guard remains committed to supporting our Naval Forces Africa teammates here in the region and building out partner nation maritime capabilities against all maritime threats: security, safety, IUU fishing.  And we are looking to help synchronize efforts of those like-minded partners.  That plays right to the United States Coast Guard’s strength of working intergovernmentally, internationally, and we’re going to get after building that network, we’re going to get after illuminating behaviors in the shadows, and we couldn’t do it with a stronger partner, and we’re a complementary contributor.  The Coast Guard has limitations in capacity, but if we can put the Coast Guard capabilities, authorities, human-to-human interactions in the right places supporting the Naval Forces Africa team, I think we can make a real impact in the region.

So, thank you for the opportunity to participate today.  Admiral Burke? 

Admiral Burke:  Thanks, Karl.  I appreciate those comments, and it’s exactly the way I feel.  I’d like to also thank all the journalists who dialed in for your time on such an important issue.  The Coast Guard is an absolutely vital partner for us here at Naval Forces Africa, and we couldn’t do what we do with our African nation partners without the Coast Guard’s help.  We’re working to build partner capabilities of those African nations.  We’re working to build their own capacity so that they can maintain a more secure, a more stable, and a more prosperous African continent.  And together, I think alongside of our Africa partners, we’re going to continue to enhance Africa’s maritime security and sovereignty.

Really appreciate everyone’s time today, and thank you, Marissa.

Moderator:  Thank you.  That concludes today’s call.  I want to thank Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Admiral Robert Burke, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, for joining us and thank all of our callers for participating.  If you have any questions about today’s call, you may contact the Africa Regional Media Hub at  Thank you.

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U.S. Department of State

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