News: Liberian Coast Guard, French Navy conduct joint anti-piracy training
Story by Capt. Bryon McGarry
MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberian Coast Guardsmen and French Navy sailors participated in joint anti-piracy training aboard the French frigate Latouche-Treville during a port visit to Monrovia April 16-19. U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard personnel from U.S. Embassy-Monrovia’s Office of Security Cooperation were on hand to mentor and support LCG sailors throughout the partnered training.
U.S. Embassy-Monrovia, in coordination with U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and Operation ONWARD LIBERTY, partner with the Government of Liberia to enhance the operational capabilities of the LCG and the Armed Forces of Liberia. ONWARD LIBERTY is a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led operation comprised of joint U.S. servicemembers who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.
The joint anti-piracy training covered topics including non-compliant vessel board, search and seizure tactics, weapons familiarization, underwater navigation and hull sweeps for mines and smuggling compartments.
LCG Lt. j.g. Charles Blawah, LCG training officer, said the opportunity to conduct training on an unfamiliar vessel was a boon for the LCG sailors. “Knowledge is perishable, so being able to practice the tactics we know in different environments and situations helps reinforce the training we’ve had in the past,” he said. “Although the language barrier can be challenging, the French and LCG sailors have done a great job working together cooperatively this week.”
French Navy Lt. Matthew Ruf, anti-submarine warfare officer, said the training opportunity was valuable for both maritime services. “Our sailors were familiarized with the LCG’s weapon systems and gained a better understanding of the unique challenges the LCG faces on the water,” he said. “It was a great week training together and trading experiences, which will hopefully help all of us be more proficient.”
U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Patrick Clark, U.S. Embassy-Monrovia Office of Security Cooperation maritime advisor, said the joint training was key to the LCG’s capacity growth. “Taking advantage of training opportunities like this is very important to the continued development of the Liberian Coast Guard,” he said. “Our hats are off to the Captain and crew of the Latouche-Treville for their willingness to provide this training and to share their knowledge and professional skills with the LCG. By partnering with other nations’ navies, the LCG is able to more rapidly increase their operational skills and better serve the people of Liberia.”