U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James R. Kriesel, deputy commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, recently visited the Republic of Seychelles to discuss ways to increase interoperability between CJTF-HOA and the Seychelles.
“A key, vital forecast is the fact piracy is suppressed, not eradicated,” said Kriesel, the first CJTF-HOA leader to officially visit the Seychelles since 2012. “We, as a coalition, must maintain readiness to rise to the challenge of a potential resurgence.”
Kriesel met with leaders from the Seychelles People’s Defence Force, and the U.S. Embassy Mauritius and Seychelles, to discuss the crucial role the Seychelles, a group of 115 islands, has played in the fight against illegal fishing, the ongoing threat of piracy in the western Indian Ocean, and trafficking of weapons, narcotics and people. During the meeting, Seychelles People’s Defence Force leaders elaborated on their plan to increase information sharing and force capability to police the Indian Ocean.
Kriesel also visited the Regional Coordination and Operational Centre, seeing firsthand how the center operates and its pivotal role in promoting maritime security in the region.
“CJTF-HOA and the Regional Coordination and Operational Centre would benefit from conducting training and exercises similar to our subject matter expert exchange; ultimately, furthering strategic access,” said Kriesel.
The Regional Coordination and Operational Centre’s objectives are synergistic with CJTF-HOA’s lines of effort. Strengthening individual and institutional capacity, encouraging international capacity, and facilitating mutual dialogue with international, regional and national actors form the foundation of the Regional Coordination and Operational Centre, resulting in success in their anti-piracy mission. Approximately 100 pirates have been repatriated to Somaliland; however, the government is concerned criminals are regrouping and obtaining financing for future activity, said Col. Clifford Roseline, chief of the Seychelles People’s Defence Force.
“Seychelles is proud to be a member of the Combined Maritime Forces,” said Roseline, who joined the Seychelles People’s Defence Force in 1978. The Seychelles rely on collaboration with maritime and international partners to share information and intelligence to ensure their forces are at the right place, at the right time, to continue to combat trafficking as it evolves in today’s operational landscape.
“The Combined Maritime Forces is seeing not only an increase in human trafficking, but a rise in the trafficking of both charcoal and sugar, which funds terrorist organizations in East Africa,” said Roseline.
“The Seychelles is more than just a partner on the high seas,” said Melanie Zimmerman, deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy Mauritius and Seychelles, who also noted the country has the ability to prosecute suspected pirates detained by European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) forces and U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
“CJTF-HOA values its partners and looks forward to continued collaboration with Seychelles,” Kriesel said at the conclusion of his visit.