The relations between the United States and Togo are excellent, as evidenced by the many training sessions provided by the Navy, the US Navy, to its Togolese counterpart. Both capitals rely on logistical support and training to counter off-shore threats.
By Mawu Kouevi Folli-gay
“We are happy to have worked with the Togolese here. We gave them our know-how in this area and we can say that they can now make use of what they learned immediately in their duties. I know how important this training is for the patrol to fight off-shore crime,” said Brian Spence, a coast guard on duty at the Coast Guard Station in Seattle after a few days of training to the Togolese Navy in Lome. For Washington and Lome, there are too many interests in defense. Indeed, the United States considers Togo as an ally in countering off-shore cross-border crime since the emergence of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2009. This part of the continent recorded vertiginously- increasing attacks from 2009 to 2011. And Togo has not escaped these off-shore attacks. So for the country, these seasonal training sessions have helped secure its territorial waters to make it a safe place for thousands of ships which spend the night there before continuing their journey.
The United States considers Togo as an ally in countering off-shore cross-border crime
For Washington, US support for logistics, intelligence and training is a major asset that will need to be strengthened in the years to come. To enhance maritime safety, the United States gave Togo three Defender star boats at a total cost of $ 1.2 million in 2014. They also financed the construction of a maintenance hangar for an estimated amount of 1 million. The United States contributed to the training of the Togolese navy in mechanics. In a much more technical area, the United States trained the Togolese police and gendarmerie on the manipulation of evidence, and assisted Togo in collecting and processing evidence, both in terms of piracy and wildlife trafficking, including DNA and isotope testing on seized ivory.
“Togo is a leader in the Gulf of Guinea”
“Through the Togolese authorities’ initiatives to secure their coast, it is clear that Togo is a leader in the Gulf of Guinea,” said US Ambassador to Togo, David GILMOUR, during an exercise called “Junction Rain” which took place in the Togolese territorial waters in March 2017. For the latter, this kind of exercise will undoubtedly help, on the one hand, Togolese navy capacity building that faces maritime insecurity and, on the other hand, strengthen the links between these two countries. The operation has already marked an important step forward in maritime security cooperation efforts between the United States and Togo. Although joint training sessions were conducted in the past, the members of the Togolese Maritime Forces, the US Navy and the USCG have never patrolled the waters together as part of a real law enforcement operation. “The combined maritime enforcement operations between Togolese and US forces, such as the one just concluded, will help ensure that Togo has a safe maritime environment enhancing maritime trade and fostering economic growth,” Said Ambassador Gilmour. For the maritime prefect and Captain Takougnadi NEYO, the training is part of the African Charter of the African Union on maritime safety organized in October 2016 in Lome. “The training itself has been successful and will be of benefit to the Togolese navy,” he added. The United States has more than ever supported Togo, which has taken the lead in countering threats of all kinds in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea, marking the return of the first military and economic power in the world to this part of the continent.