STUTTGART, Germany - Each year, the U.S. Africa Command Maritime Programs Branch enlists a team from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to conduct Advanced Research Projects (ARP) throughout Africa.
The research team consist of three Cadets completing their senior year, along with two professors who oversee the project. These research endeavors play a vital role in Maritime’s strategic approach to the plethora of problem sets throughout the continent.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, First Class Cadets Erin Reynolds, John Roddy, and Samuel Wood completed the AFRICOM-sponsored ARP as part of their senior capstone project. They were advised by Dr. Ginger Denton and Dr. Chris LaMonica. Their research, entitled “Broken Windows and Broken Courts: Combatting Illicit Trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea,” sought to find more effective ways to improve anti-trafficking efforts in the Gulf of Guinea region. The team analyzed the relationship between transparent government institutions and the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts.
The cadet research team acts as a traveling contact team in support of the AFRICOM's Maritime and Counter-Illicit Trafficking Missions. The Team assessed Gulf of Guinea maritime and terrestrial capabilities, the needs driven by regional growth in maritime extractive industries, and the evolution of the region as a maritime transit zone for commercial shipping and illicit trafficking. These assessments and recommendations will support U.S. Coast Guard engagements in maritime security, law enforcement cooperation and training conducted by AFRICOM.
In order to thoroughly conduct the research, the group traveled to the U.S. Naval War College, National Defense University, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, and the U.S. Department of State where they interviewed government officials with firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing the region. The team also travelled to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire where they participated in the Strategic Integration for Maritime Security workshop hosted by the African Center for Strategic Studies in order to better understand the African perspective of the problem and identify possible African solutions to the maritime threats in the region.
The cadets' empirical research found a statistically significant relationship between the transparency of a Gulf of Guinea state's government and the value of narcotics seized by its police forces. Specifically, every point increase in a country's Corruption Perception score yielded a corresponding increase of $3.37 million USD value of drugs seized. This indicates that the more transparent a state's government, the more likely the state is to seize narcotics that enter the country illegally. The cadets' research also found that the perception of corruption in many Gulf of Guinea states hinders police officers from performing their duties and creates an environment more permissive of corruption and illicit trafficking. These results show that to combat illicit trafficking it is important not only to improve the police forces in the region, but also develop transparent governments which empower police forces to perform their duties and arrest criminals engaging in illicit trafficking.
As a result of the team’s direct efforts and research, they concluded that to combat illicit trafficking it is important not only to improve the police forces in the region, but also develop transparent governments which empower police forces to perform their duties and arrest criminals engaging in illicit trafficking.