Posted by This Day on
The United States yesterday denied having any territorial ambition in Nigeria. In a letter to THISDAY Chairman/Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Conselor for Public Affairs US Embassy, Claudia E. Anyaso, expressed growing concern over media reports alleging the presence of US troops in the Gulf of Guinea, saying "nothing could be farther from the truth".
The United States yesterday denied having any territorial ambition in Nigeria.
In a letter to THISDAY Chairman/Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Conselor for Public Affairs US Embassy, Claudia E. Anyaso, expressed growing concern over media reports alleging the presence of US troops in the Gulf of Guinea, saying "nothing could be farther from the truth".
Anyaso wrote in the letter, "The truth of the matter is that the US military does not have, nor has it ever stationed, military personnel in the Gulf of Guinea. Even the military staff assigned to the US Embassy, including the Marines and the Defense Attache Office, is quite negligible.
"US-Nigeria military cooperation is a very important facet of our bilateral relationship. The US Government considers Nigeria a strategic partner and frequently praises Nigeria's regional peacekeeping efforts; whether in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, or more recently in Sudan. Also, the Embassy's Office of Defense Cooperation manages an active program of humanitarian assistance (e.g., schools, clinics, boreholes) that benefits many Nigerian communities. As a case in point, just this past week Ambassador John Campbell commissioned a borehole project in Owerri, Imo state that provides safe water for a village which up to now was dependent on clean water six kilometers away.
"It should not be surprising that such close allies are
also engaged in capacity building and training. While enormously beneficial in terms of military professionalism, such training, to date, has been modest. For example: Currently, there are six U.S.
Navy trainers at the Nigerian Army Amphibious Center in Calabar, participating in a joint training exercise with Nigerian military personnel, designed to improve basic soldier skills and interoperability. This training is a follow-up to a similar event a year ago.
From late January to mid-February 2005, the U.S. Navy ship, the USS Emory S. Land visited ports in Ghana, Cameroon and Gabon and conducted training with several navies. Although the ship never entered Nigerian territorial waters, there were seven Nigerian Navy personnel on board the vessel who participated in training covering navigation, seamanship, search and rescue, anti-terrorism force protection, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The intent of this exercise was to promote multinational interoperability, mutual understanding and cooperation with regional partners to achieve a more stable and secure maritime environment.
"Ships of many nations, both civilian and military, transit the international waterways around Africa all the time. The United States Coast Guard Cutter Bear, with a crew of approximately 100, just ended approximately three weeks of routine training of the West Africa coast and visits to several Gulf of Guinea ports. This exercise did not involve any Nigerian personnel and the vessel did not enter Nigerian territorial waters, but it is another example of the type of training activities that the US military conducts with African partners. It goes without saying that training events and exercises of any size are coordinated closely with all participating governments. But it also needs to be noted that the presence of a US naval or Coast Guard vessel in international waters does not automatically mean that there is an exercise going on. More often, it simply indicates a routine ship passage.
"It is extremely important that the Nigerian public and the Nigerian press better understand the nature of US-Nigerian military cooperation and how this cooperation fits within the overall bilateral relationship".
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