With contributions from Capt. Bryon McGarry, U.S. Air Force.
Protecting the American homeland is a global mission taking Coast Guardsmen all over the world. Working alongside international partners to share our law enforcement and security expertise translates to a safer global supply chain protecting American lives and interests on the world’s oceans.
Recently, a mobile training team from the U.S. Coast Guard International Training Detachment at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, Va., deployed to Liberia, in Western Africa, to strengthen local maritime security capabilities and build partnerships for the future.
Over a six-week period, Coast Guardsmen trained 20 of their Liberian Coast Guard counterparts to be boarding officer instructors. These instructors will train personnel charged with maintaining maritime security off Liberia’s coast. More importantly, the joint training was designed to prepare the Liberian Coast Guard to be regional experts in maritime safety and security boardings to both cultivate relationships with partner nations’ maritime forces and to standardize maritime training and operations across national borders.
“Ultimately our goal is to instruct ourselves out of a job,” said Chief Petty Officer Tim Tolliver, the training team’s lead instructor. “These trainees have done a great job making the curriculum their own. The [Liberian Coast Guard] has the mindset, attitude and motivation to keep that professional growth going and continue to make Liberia proud.”
The success of the program was demonstrated soon after as the Liberian Coast Guard hosted a multi-national boarding officer training course for personnel from Liberia as well as Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
“Even though we’re from different countries, many things are universal,” Ivory Coast Lt. j.g. Kati Frank Coulibaly. “In partnering with our neighbors, we’re able to train to the same standard and agree on the right way to do things.”
U.S. Coast Guard participation in the boarding officer training program is part of a wider effort, coordinated by the State Department, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and the Government of Liberia, called Operation Onward Liberty with the stated goal of developing a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law in Liberia.
Cmdr. Patrick Clark, U.S. Embassy-Monrovia Office of Security Cooperation maritime advisor, emphasized that the Liberian Coast Guard’s high-caliber performance in the course proves they have reached a level where they can both sustain their own training and export it to their neighbors, which will enhance the maritime security efforts of partner West African nations.
“The [U.S. Coast Guard] and our own [Liberian Coast Guard] trainers both emphasized the need for camaraderie and cohesiveness for a boat crew,” said Liberian Coast Guard Seaman Samuel Zarbay. “When we respect one another and like one another, it helps us function better as a team.”