well as highlight issues of common interest. One of the outcomes of the conference was a decision to hold a joint training exercise some time during the following year. On January 25, 2005, the USS Emory S. Land began its Gulf of Guinea deployment with 20 foreign naval officers onboard. As well as providing technical as- sistance to the Cameroon navy and in-port navigation and seamanship training, the men and officers of USS Emory S. Land took part in search and rescue and force protection exercises.
While such deployments by the U.S. Navy are not new—it has been conducting training exercises in the Gulf of Guinea since the late 1970s—the proposal to establish the GGGF has given them added importance and led to changes in the types of exercises it under- takes with its regional partners. In the most recent ex- ercise, which began on February 22, 2008, codenamed Exercise Maritime Safari, vessels and aircraft of the Nigerian navy and air force and the U.S. Navy ran maritime surveillance drills. These exercises are im- portant, as they help the United States gain a clearer understanding of what capabilities its regional part- ners actually posses. Moreover, they also help foster understanding between the U.S. and Nigerian navies and enhance the Nigerians’ ability to unilaterally con- duct such operations in the future.
Although the military and political benefits of un- dertaking such exercises may not be profound, they are real. So too are the reasons why the GGGF should be created. The proposed force will benefit the United States by making the Gulf more secure for maritime traffic; better safeguarding the flow of oil from Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea; helping the Nigerian govern- ment extend its authority over the ungoverned space of the Delta and curbing the illegal trade in bunkered