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March 13 Telephonic Press Briefing on Obangame Express 2019

March 13 Telephonic Press Briefing on Obangame Express 2019

March 13  Briefing with U.S. Navy Captain Eric Conzen, Commodore of U.S. Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa and Exercise Director for Obangame Express 2019, and Nigerian Rear Admiral Obed Habila Ngalabak, The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command.


Please join us on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 14:00 GMT for a telephonic press conference with U.S. Navy Captain Eric Conzen, Commodore of U.S. Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa and Exercise Director for Obangame Express 2019, and Nigerian Rear Admiral Obed Habila Ngalabak, The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command. The speakers will discuss the merits of an exercise designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise. All of these training opportunities serve as a catalyst to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.


Exercise Obangame Express is a multinational maritime exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command that brings together African, European, South American, and U.S. forces — part of a Global Network of Navies — to enhance cooperation and expertise in maritime security operations. The purpose of the exercise is to test multinational maritime forces in a broad range of naval operations in order to increase capability and capacity, as a collective whole, for Gulf of Guinea nations to deter piracy, illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats. The exercise will take place throughout the Gulf of Guinea, and will have land-based Maritime Operations Centers throughout the region.

Obangame Express and Saharan Express were fully integrated after a combined exercise in 2016.  These once separate exercises took place in different areas of Africa from 2010 through 2015. These exercise zones in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Guinea stretch from Senegal to Angola, and across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) nations. There are 33 nations scheduled to participate in Obangame Express 2018; Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).


Speakers: U.S. Navy Captain Eric Conzen, Commodore of U.S. Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa, and Exercise Director for Obangame Express 2019.

Nigerian Rear Admiral Obed Habila Ngalabak, The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command.

Date: March 13, 2019

Time: 14:00 GMT/16:00 CAT

* Please use Time Zone Converter to determine the start time of the event in your time zone.

Language: English.  French and Portuguese interpretation will be offered.

Ground rules: On the record

Dial-in Info: To be provided once you RSVP

RSVP: RSVP via Eventbrite at this link.

Twitter: We will use the hashtag #OE2018Press for the call. For the conversation around Obangame Express, please use hashtags #Obangame #maritimesecurity and #SmartPartnering.  Follow us on USNavyAfrica and AfricaMediaHub.


  • Callers should dial-in to the conference call 10-15 minutes early.
  • When an individual journalist dials-in, the operator will collect the caller’s name, press affiliation, and location. When an embassy dials in, the operator will ask the embassy’s name and location.
  • The moderator will facilitate the Q and A among the connected callers. Journalists on the conference call will be instructed to press the “*” and “1” buttons on their phones in order to enter the question queue.  NOTE:  You can press “*1” at any time during the call to join the question queue, even before the moderator begins the Q and A portion.  We ask that journalists limit themselves to one question and indicate to which speaker the question is directed.
  • Journalists can also submit questions in English to afmediahub@state.gov prior to or during the call.


CAPT Eric L. Conzen

Commander, Task Force SIX THREE

Commander, Military Sealift Command Europe/Africa

CAPT Conzen is a native of Redondo Beach, California, the proud son of a police officer and an elementary school librarian. In high school, CAPT Conzen was the Battalion Commander of his Marine Corps Junior R.O.T.C. unit – which paved the way to his appointment to the United States Naval Academy as a proud member of the Class of 1993. He holds a B.S. in Political Science from USNA and an M.S. in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.

Dual Hatted as Commander Task Force SIX THREE and Commander of Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa, he has led the Combat Logistics Force supporting Fleet operations, represented the Type Commander in Theater, provided oversight for the Flagship USS MOUNT WHITNEY, managed Naval Oceanographic Survey Operations in the North Atlantic, and served as Officer in Tactical Command for Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS, integrating more than 25 nation’s Navies in U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s largest exercise.

CAPT Conzen’s sea assignments have been in USS VALLEY FORGE (CG 50), as Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer; USS DENVER (LPD 9), as Navigator/Administrative Officer; USS PEARL HARBOR (LSD 52), as Operations Officer; The SIXTH Fleet Flagship USS LA SALLE (AGF 3), as Operations Officer; and USS SHREVEPORT (LPD 12), as Executive Officer and Decommissioning Commanding Officer. As Commanding Officer of USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41), CAPT Conzen brought his ship and crew out of an extensive midlife modernization, through an emergent training regimen and deployed for 321 days in support of Operations ODESSEY DAWN & UNIFIED PROTECTOR and to SIXTH/FIFTH Fleets with the USS BATAAN ARG/22MEU. Post Command, he served as the Lead Amphibious Assessor and Current Operations Officer at Carrier Strike Group FOUR (CSG 4), certifying ARG/MEUs for deployment. He served as Deputy Commander of the Naval Integrated Staff comprised of the Commander Task Force 51 and Command Element, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Manama, Bahrain. CAPT Conzen has made deployments to Central and South America, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean. He has made independent deployments and Strike Group deployments, with Marine Expeditionary Units and without, served forward deployed, overseas, and on both coasts of the U.S.

At the Naval Postgraduate School, in CAPT Conzen’s first assignment ashore, his thesis showed there was little causal effect of fully funded graduate education on the retention of Naval Officers. After his Department Head tours, he served in the Combined/Joint Operations Directorate (C/J-3) of Striking and Support Forces, NATO in Naples Italy where he was the Amphibious/Maritime Strike (TLAM) Officer. Additionally, he has served on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, in the Assessment Division (OPNAV N81), as the Analysis Resource Management Branch Head, where he managed the funding of Navy’s Analytic Agenda, oversaw the creation of the study portfolio for the Center for Naval Analyses and was the Officer Community manager for the over 500 Navy Operations Analysts. Immediately following Command, CAPT Conzen was the Director of Operations at the Headquarters, Navy Region Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia responsible for running the Region Operations Center and program management for Fire Protection Services, Port Operations, Airfield Operations, Security, Emergency Management and Safety for 8 Installations in 6 countries – including the stand-up of the first overseas Naval Installation in over 15 years in Deveselu, Romania.

CAPT Conzen’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), the Joint Services Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation medal (four awards), the Navy Achievement medal, and various campaign and unit awards. He is married to the former Giuseppina Giannettino of Marigliano, Italy. They have 2 children, Antony (9) and Sonia (4).

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.Africa Regional Media Hub
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