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Maritime Strategic Context for AFRICOM With Particular Reference to the Gulf of Guinea. Briefing for the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center, Charleston 25-26 October 2007 Dr. J. Peter Pham. Strategic Vision.

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maritime strategic context for africom with particular reference to the gulf of guinea

Maritime Strategic Context for AFRICOMWith Particular Reference to the Gulf of Guinea

Briefing for the

Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR)

Systems Center, Charleston

25-26 October 2007

Dr. J. Peter Pham

strategic vision
Strategic Vision

“Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high priority of this Administration. It is a place of promise and opportunity, linked to the United States by history, culture, commerce, and strategic significance. Our goal is an African continent that knows liberty, peace, stability, and increasing prosperity.”

—National Security Strategy

of the United States of America (2006)

“I am pleased to announce my decision to create a Department of Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa. I have directed the Secretary of Defense to stand up U.S. Africa Command by the end of fiscal year 2008. This new command will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa. Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa.”

—President George W. Bush (February 6, 2007)

u s africa squadron 1842 1861
U.S. Africa Squadron, 1842-1861

“The rights of our citizens engaged in lawful commerce are under the protection of our flag; and it is the chief purpose as well as the chief duty of our naval power to see that these rights are not improperly abridged or invaded…It is to be borne in mind, that while the United States sincerely desire the suppression of the slave trade, and design to exert their power, in good faith, for the accomplishment of that object, they do not regard the success of their efforts as their paramount interest.”

—Instructions to Captain Matthew C. Perry from Secretary of the Navy Abel P. Upshur

economic context
Economic Context
  • Low GDP: regional average is $1,500 per capita (PPP).
  • Hydrocarbon sector is significant proportion of economy and source of foreign exchange: 50-90 in Angola, 20-95 in Nigeria, 50-75 in Gabon.

Top West African producers by barrels of oil per day:

  • Nigeria: 2.5 million
  • Angola: 902,000
  • Equatorial Guinea: 350,000
  • Gabon: 289,000
  • Congo: 235,000
  • Chad: 200,000
  • Cameroon: 67,000
  • Côte d’Ivoire: 33,000
u s energy security
U.S. Energy Security
  • Production in the Gulf of Guinea will increase 40 percent by 2015.
  • The region already provides approximately 55 percent of U.S. imports of light, sweet crude, which is easier to refine for domestic consumption than the high sulfur-content petroleum from the Middle East or Venezuela.

Uganda: highest percentage

  • of youth bulge at 51% under
  • age 15
  • Nigeria currently 9th most
  • populous country (132 million)
  • will be 8th most populous in
  • 2015 (163 million)
  • Transparency International:
  • Half of the 20 most corrupt
  • countries in the world are in
  • Africa

African Demographics

and Corruption

Demographic Context

  • African demographics creates breeding ground for extremists
    • “Youth bulge” – 40% of population is less than 15 years old
    • Systemic corruption prevents equitable distribution of resources
  • Two choices for growing population:
    • Stay in Africa with little hope; terrorism and criminal activity perpetuates and aggravates instability
    • Immigration (legal and illegal) upsets European Muslim ratio; promotes Islamic extremism
political context multilateral organizations in the region
Political ContextMultilateral Organizations in the Region

United Nations (UN) and Africa Union (AU) members

Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA)

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)

Southern African Development Community (SADC)

political context
Political Context
  • Weak governance capacity afflicts most nation-states in the region.
  • Democratization efforts have been uneven.
  • Living standards have been in relative decline.
  • Religious divisions have accentuated ethnic and economic factors as conflict motivators.
tipping points

Extremist inroads


Minimally governed areas

Piracy and


Piracy and


Piracy and




Wars and serious

conflicts since 1994

“Tipping Points”

Niger Delta Region


Bakassi Peninsula

Liberian Civil Wars


Nigerian-led regional intervention (ECOMOG)

Congo War (DROC)


Recent Coup Attempts

São Tomé and Príncipe (2003)

Equatorial Guinea (2004)

Democratic Republic of the Congo (2004)

Togo (2005)

Angola Civil War


military context
Military Context
  • Focus has been predominantly on army and internal security services.
  • Overall maritime capability is poor, even by developing world standards: small, undermanned, poorly equipped, inadequately trained naval components are largely inoperable.
  • Most countries are unable to cope with piracy, criminal enterprises, and poaching, much less with terrorism.
  • Coastline: 579 km
  • No personnel since 2003
  • 4 inoperable craft
  • Coastline: 539 km
  • 1000 personnel
  • 4 patrol craft
  • 2 patrol aircraft
  • Coastline: 56 km
  • 200 personnel
  • 2 patrol craft
  • Coastline: 121 km
  • 200 personnel
  • 5 patrol craft
  • Coastline: 853 km
  • 6700 personnel
  • 1 frigate, 1 corvette, 6 missile boats, 5 maritime patrol craft, 2 aircraft, 17 coastal patrol craft, and 50 riverine patrol craft
  • Coastline: 402 km
  • 1300 personnel
  • 10 riverine patrol craft, 6 harbor patrol craft, 3 maritime patrol craft
equatorial guinea
Equatorial Guinea
  • Coastline: 296 km
  • No personnel
  • No craft
s o tom and pr ncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Coastline: 209 km (142,563 km2 EEZ)
  • 50 personnel
  • 2 inflatable craft
  • Coastline: 885 km
  • 600 personnel
  • 3 coastal patrol craft, 1 maritime patrol craft
congo brazzaville
Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Coastline: 169 km
  • 800 personnel
  • 12 riverine patrol craft
democratic republic of congo
Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Coastline: 37 km
  • 1300 personnel
  • 5 patrol craft
  • Coastline: 1600 km
  • 2200 personnel
  • 16 coastal patrol craft, 5 landing craft, 5 aircraft, 5 helicopters, 11 harbor craft
gulf of guinea maritime traffic
Gulf of Guinea Maritime Traffic
  • Regionally: 40 ship departures per day, 280 per week.
    • Tankers: 11 per day, 76 per week
    • General cargo ships: 8 per day, 56 per week
    • Container ships: 7 per day, 51 per week
  • Nigeria is most significant source of merchant traffic: 50 percent of tanker departures, 57 percent of tanker tonnage.


3 daily



11 daily



Port Harcourt



2 daily



3 daily



5 daily


Equatorial Guinea

3 weekly



São Tomé and Príncipe

2 weekly

São Tomé


2 daily

Pointe Noire


2 daily


Shipping Departures and Major Port Locations


2 daily



1 daily



Criminal Activities

Middle East Heroin to U.S. and Europe


Stolen Cars from U.S. and Europe

Oil “Bunkering”

Weapons Trafficking, Human Trafficking, and other Illicit Trade throughout the Region

Cocaine from South America to U.S. and Europe

other interested parties
Other Interested Parties

Ever-increasing economic, political, and military engagement of Africa by the People’s Republic of China and India (and others) in search of:

  • Resources
  • Business opportunities
  • Diplomatic initiatives
  • Strategic partnerships
other strategic concerns
Other Strategic Concerns
  • Developing multilateral institutions: African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), etc.
  • Potential for state failure, including the conflict in or even collapse of regional pivots: Angola (Cabinda separatism), Nigeria (Igbo, Ijaw, and Yoruba nationalism; Islamism among the Hausa and Fulani).
  • Spread of terrorist phenomena: Northern Nigeria, Niger Delta, South Africa.
naval operations concept 2006
Naval Operations Concept (2006)
  • Traditional Missions
    • Forward Naval Presence
    • Crisis Response
    • Expeditionary Power Projection
    • Maritime Security Operations
    • Sea Control
    • Deterrence
  • New Missions
    • Security Cooperation
    • Civil-Military Operations
    • Counterinsurgency
    • Counterterrorism
    • Counter-Proliferation
    • Air and Missile Defense
    • Information Operations
specific strategic priorities in the gulf of guinea
Specific Strategic Prioritiesin the Gulf of Guinea
  • Maritime Security—Detect, deter, interdict, and defeat terrorist attacks, criminal acts, or hostile acts in the maritime domain, and prevent its unlawful exploitation for those purposes.

(ref. National Strategy for Maritime Security)

  • Influence—The power of producing effects without obvious exertion of force or direct exercise of command. It requires the creation of secure and stable environments that nurture enduring relationships and interdependencies.

(ref. CNO Strategic Studies Group XXIV)

global fleet station gfs
Global Fleet Station (GFS)

“A hub where all manner of joint, interagency, international organizations, navies, coast guards and non-governmental organizations could partner together as a force for good.”

—ADM Mike Mullen (CNO)

“GFS is a persistent sea base of operations from which to coordinate and employ adaptive force packages within a regional area of interest.”


“The Global Fleet Stations (GFS) pilot program will serve as a regional cornerstone for phase “0”, Shaping and Stability Operations. GFS supplies an adaptive force package that supports the 1,000-ship Navy with a persistent presence.”

—U.S. Navy Office of Information (CHINFO)

recent and current efforts
Recent and Current Efforts
  • GFS Pilot Programs
    • HSV-2 Swift(April-September 2007)
    • USS Fort McHenry(October 2007–May 2008)
  • Humanitarian Assistance
    • USS Emory S. Land(January-March 2005; February-April 2006)
    • USNS Comfort(June-October 07)
    • USS Pelilieu(June-September 2007)
the next steps
The Next Steps
  • Functional Area Analysis to determine capabilities and requirements for GFS, examining mission areas, including:
    • Peacetime Engagement
    • Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
    • Interagency and/or NGO Coordination
  • Functional Needs Analysis to weigh attributes in each mission area, measure the attributes, and determine capability vis-à-vis platforms available.
contact information
Contact Information

Dr. J. Peter Pham


The Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs

James Madison University

MSC 1205

Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801

(540) 568.2281 ▪ (540) 568.2977 FAX

Weekly “Strategic Interests” Column on African Security Issues: