Cdre Hatcher receives a gift from the Chief of the Kenyan Navy MAJGEN Mghalu

Commander Combined Task Force 150 (CCTF150), Commodore Jaimie Hatcher AM, RAN conducted a very successful Key Leader Engagement (KLE) in South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in the period 2 to 10 March 2016. A priority for the KLE was to enhance multi-agency and multinational efforts to counter terrorism and narcotics smuggling from the Makran Coast to Eastern Africa.

Commodore Hatcher met with senior members of the operations and intelligence staffs of all three militaries and navies. Additional meetings with law enforcement agencies also proved valuable in understanding law enforcement outcomes in particular the willingness to prosecute smugglers including the confiscation of dhows. All three countries undertook to pursue the confiscation and destruction of dhows involved in illicit activities as this will have a significant impact on smuggling operations. While South African National Defence Force Patrols in the Mozambique Channel are conducted with embarked Mozambique Marines to affect arrests, Kenyan and Tanzanian officials highlighted that providing they had the appropriate intelligence they would act.

Commodore Hatcher said

“The willingness of the Kenyan and Tanzanian Navies to apprehend smugglers is most welcome. We must now ensure appropriate intelligence sharing when operations permit.”

Each country was also briefed on opportunities to increase intelligence sharing, including as part of enduring Combined Maritime Force operations off the East African coast. The Chief of the Kenyan Navy Major General Mghalu, and the Chief of the Tanzanian Navy, Major General Laswai, both expressed interest in opportunities to participate in any Combined Maritime Force operations off their coasts. The Director of Maritime Operations of the South African Navy, Rear Admiral Thomson, confirmed the South African Navy would react to actionable intelligence.

Two CTF 150 plans staff and an Australian Federal Police Liaison Officer accompanied Commodore Hatcher. This provided a valuable opportunity for the Australian staff to gain a detailed understanding of how to incorporate Kenyan, Tanzanian and South African forces into counter narcotics and counter terrorism efforts in East Africa, including how the Combined Maritime Force can better support regional efforts.

Given the recent weapons smuggling intervention by HMAS DARWIN (insert hyperlink), whereby a significant number of weapons likely destined for Somalia, and thus possible use against Kenyan troops, were confiscated. Kenyan officials stated they were grateful to the Combined Maritime Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and were particularly keen to provide a liaison officer to the Combined Maritime Force.

Commodore Hatcher said

“The possible provision of a Kenyan Liaison Officer is most welcome as it will facilitate greater information sharing between Kenya and the CMF. Information sharing, in particular with countries that are prepared to prosecute illegal activities, is key to countering narcotics smuggling off East Africa. I am determined to facilitate enduring intelligence sharing with such countries. I particularly welcome Kenyan and Tanzanian willingness to prosecute offenders and confiscate dhows.”