By Adm. Bruce W. Clingan
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe,
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa,
Commander, Allied Joint Force Command, Naples
I had an opportunity to travel to Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa recently and met with Vice Adm. Johannes Refiloe Mudimu, Chief of the South African Navy in Pretoria and Rear Adm. Philip Schoultz, Flag Officer Fleet of the South African Navy, in Cape Town. I also visited one of their frigates and a submarine, and met with their Sailors … Sailors who proudly represent one of the most well-developed fleets among all the African nations.
Bilateral engagements such as this serve to strengthen the relationships we have with our African partners, and to reinforce our commitment to addressing shared security concerns throughout the region.
So do the activities of Sailors and Marines assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), the forward-deployed naval component of U.S. Africa Command – particularly those that involve working alongside our partners to enhance maritime security.
The South African Navy is fulfilling a similar role ‘down under’ in the Indian Ocean. As one example, they have been leading a counter-piracy mission in the Mozambique Channel for nearly three years now, in concert with the Tanzania and Mozambique navies. In this regard, South Africa’s four frigates have been rotating to maintain an enduring presence in the Channel designed to deter the expansion of Somalia-based piracy southward.
Maritime security challenges require cooperative solutions. They require navies, like South Africa’s, that are willing to patrol international waters and share critical information with regional partners to combat criminal activities at sea. And when this occurs, the world’s waters become a safer place.
Consequently, when you combine partnerships and presence, you get the one-two punch needed to keep the world’s waters ‘open for business.’
And that’s the NAVAF strategy, to build a network of international partners, with nations like South Africa, so that maritime safety and security throughout the region is not just a vision, but a reality.
Why is this important – why should Americans care?
One word says it all – trade. About 90 percent of all global trade moves on the world’s oceans. Trade is the driver for all nations to realize greater prosperity; greater prosperity enables increased investments in navies and other security organizations; and greater security leads to a more stable world. For this reason, safe, secure waterways are a benefit to all nations.
Our commitment to maintaining the safety and security of the world’s oceans is part of a whole of government effort to defend the American people and protect our U.S. interests worldwide … interests that we help protect through enduring maritime partnerships.