This past summer, working alongside a small contingent of U.S. Navy trainers, Armed Forces for the Defense of Mozambique (FADM) members tested in a number of scenarios meant to improve maritime security in their regional waters.
As part of a two-week course, the FADM boarding team boarded a vessel, secured engineering and bridge spaces, and searched for pre-staged personnel who role-played as suspects. The successful completion of each scenario demonstrated the boarding team's tactical proficiency, proving they had the capability to deter sea crime, piracy, illicit trafficking and illegal fishing.
The boarding scenario was just one of several training events used to develop the FADM's maritime security tactical expertise and equipment maintenance practices.
On scene to guide Mozambique navy personnel and other African partners in these types of courses was a three-person U.S. Navy mobile training team from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST).
Over the course of the last year, MCAST conducted 38 courses in 14 countries as part of the long-running theater security cooperation initiative Africa Partnership Station (APS). APS, established in 2007, is a collaborative international security cooperation initiative aimed at improving maritime safety and security in the waters surrounding Africa by developing African maritime forces' information sharing practices, response capabilities, and regional interoperability.
Courses included Maritime Intercept Operations (MIO), Boarding Team Operations, Command and Control Leadership, Small Boat Maintenance, and Maintenance Management.
"Our teams provide necessary instruction that will help these navies increase maritime security in their regions," said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Johansen, officer-in-charge of MCAST's Security Force Assistance unit.
APS has evolved from a global fleet station concept revolving around a single ship deployment into a year-round continuum of efforts. APS continues to utilize ship deployments, such as deployments from partner ships like the Belgian BNS Godetia (A960) and the Dutch's HNLMS Rotterdam (L800).
MCAST augments and pushes forward those efforts, readying partner forces for exercises and real-world maritime response situations.
"MCAST sends instructors to train African sailors in a variety of techniques to deter pirating and increase maritime security and awareness," said Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Selph, deputy planning director for APS. "MCAST trains African sailors to be able to train other navies in their region on the same techniques. This makes improving maritime security in areas that struggle with piracy and other maritime issues a much smoother process, and strengthens the region's navies as a whole."
MCAST seeks to not only provide training, but to build partnerships.
"Our goal for our training is to help these countries become more efficient in operations," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Bruno Damiral, MCAST training team member. "Our training also helps improve partnerships and positively show what our military is all about."