EL AOUINA, Tunisia U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa (NAVAF) Director of maritime partnership program, Rear Adm. Jeffrey S. Spivey joined Tunisian Minister of Defense Brahim Bertegi and U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, Donald Blome in marking the successful completion of the 16th multinational maritime exercise Phoenix Express 2021 (PE21) in Tunisia on May 28, 2021. The Exercise hosted maritime forces from Europe, North Africa, and the United States. This year, eleven nations including Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States, worked together throughout the exercise to increase regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities, enhancing efforts to promote safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea and territorial waters of participating North African nations.
“These exercises are necessary steps that build trust in one another and demonstrate our unified commitment to overcome the challenges that threaten the freedom and security of the world’s oceans,” said Rear Adm. Jeffrey S. Spivey, director, maritime partnership program, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. “It is for that reason that I am so excited to see Phoenix Express grow to include the participation of every single nation in north Africa, several of your coast guards, and the addition of the European Union coast guard functionary agencies.”
“Joint military exercises such as Phoenix Express reaffirm and deepen our exceptional bilateral cooperation with Tunisia and ensure that we meet our shared goals of a safe and secure maritime environment through regional collaboration and interoperability,” said Donald Blome, U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia.
This year’s exercise was hosted by Tunisia with training taking place throughout the Mediterranean Sea, to include territorial waters of participating North African nations. The at-sea portion of the exercise will test North African, European, and U.S. maritime forces’ abilities to respond to irregular migration and combat illicit trafficking and the movement of illegal goods and materials.
“The United States Africa Command appreciates Tunisia hosting Exercise Phoenix Express 2021,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Jones, Director, Logistics Directorate, J-4, U.S. Africa Command. “Tunisia is a major non-NATO ally and a willing and capable security partner. USAFRICOM welcomes the opportunity to train together to enhance our capabilities and interoperability with multiple African and European partners and allies to better achieve shared security cooperation objectives.”
Exercises like PE21 provide an opportunity for partner nations to work side-by-side in order to better synchronize and rehearse for potential real-world scenarios.
“Through Determination, perseverance and commitment, we were able to overcome the countless predicaments due the Global Pandemic COVID-19,” said Adm. Adel Jehane, Tunisian Navy Chief of Staff. “We have made our partnership develop, and this success is a great example that in cooperation there is strength.”
Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three regional maritime exercises executed by NAVAF as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst North African forces and international partners that addresses maritime security concerns.