Posts Tagged 'Phoenix Express'

Africa snapshot: Algeria

Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Niger and Mali to the south, Algeria is the largest country in Africa, according to the CIA World FactBook. The country covers a total of nearly 2.4 million square kilometers, most of it desert.

It is a popular tourist destination, with several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nature preserves and national parks.

Algeria is one of 11 nations participating or observing in Exercise Phoenix Express 2012, a currently taking place in the Mediterranean Sea.

Population: 35.4 million. Ninety one percent of the population lives in just 12 percent of the country’s land mass, concentrated along the Mediterranean coastline.

Religion: 99 percent Sunni Muslim.

Language: The official language is Arabic, with French and some Berber dialects also spoken.

History: Algerian culture dates back to at least the 5th century B.C. Remainders of a 750-kilomter Roman defensive barrier dating to the 4th century A.D can still be seen. Islam came to the region during the Arab invasions of the 8th and 11th centuries A.D., and is still the predominant cultural influence today. Algeria gained independence from France in 1954, and made several political reforms last year in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Geography: Mostly high plateau and desert, with the mountainous areas prone to strong earthquakes. A 2003 tremor killed at least 2,266 people, injured 10,261 and left 150,000 homeless.

Health and safety: Algeria has one of the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS infections among adults of any country in Africa. Life expectancy at birth is 74 years.

U.S. partnerships: The U.S. allocated $950,000 in 2010 and 2011 for training Algerian military personnel in the U.S. under the International Military Education and Training Program. Algeria also participates in the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, which focuses on enhancing counterterrorism capabilities, as well as the current Phoenix Express, a multinational naval security exercise.

“The Pledge:” Algeria’s national anthem, called “Quassaman,” or “The Pledge,”  was written in 1956 in the wake of independence from France. The first verse states “We swear by the lightning that destroys, by the streams of generous blood being shed … that we are in revolt.”

Sources: CIA FactBook Algeria , USGS Earthquake Center, State Department Background Note – Algeria,, United Nations – Algeria 


This is the latest in our “Africa Snapshot” series, which takes a brief look at the countries in the AFRICOM area of operations. Click here for previous posts.


10 Things about Phoenix Express 2012

SOUDA BAY, Crete (May 9, 2012) – Chief Fire Controlman Timothy Wheeler, a member of the boarding team from guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56), secures a stairway during an exercise aboard the training ship Aris at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center during Phoenix Express 2012 (PE12). PE12, a multi-national maritime exercise between Southern European, North African and U.S. Naval forces, is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations and help increase safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian A. Goyak/Released)

Phoenix Express is an at-sea exercise designed to improve cooperation on maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. Representatives from North African and Southern European countries and the U.S. practice tactics and share techniques. Here’s a brief introduction:

1) This is the seventh time Phoenix Express has occurred. (Check out one story from Phoenix Express 2011.)

2) The exercise this spring runs from May 7 to May 30, 2012.

 3) Phoenix Express is one of four African “Express” exercises designed to test skills learned in previous training events. (Read about Saharan Express, which recently wrapped up.)

4) Representatives from 11 countries are participating or observing this time: Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and United States.

5) The exercise is packed with learning and sharing. Scenarios involve search and rescue, boarding drills, communication drills and information management techniques. Workshops will also be held on such topics as operations and safety, damage control and firefighting, deck seamanship, navigation, small boat operations and leadership, and more.

6) Why is the U.S. participating? One part of the overall strategy of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) is to enhance regional stability by strengthening maritime partnerships. As General Ham, AFRICOM commander, wrote in his 2012 Posture Statement, “Our objectives for maritime security include developing maritime domain awareness, increasing response capabilities, and fostering regional integration and cooperation.”

7) The guided-missile frigate USS Simpson is part of the exercise.

8) A portion of the exercise will be held at NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Center in Souda Bay, Greece. The center was established in 2003 to focus on Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) training.

9) The exercise offers the opportunity to learn before real-life situations occur. “One of the biggest obstacles we encountered was the language barrier,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brenton Paulk, a staff instructor from Rota, Spain. “It’s something we are learning to overcome during our training, and I think learning how to interact with other nations will be helpful during real-world maritime interdiction operation.” (Read more: “PE12 Continues Multinational Training, Promotes Teamwork“)

10) Phoenix Express 2012 also includes a medical component. U.S. medical personnel from  the U.S. Army Reserve 396th Combat Support Hospital shared techniques such as applying tourniquets.

Read more:

PE12 Continues Multinational Training, Promotes Teamwork

“Phoenix Express 2012 Conducts MIO Training” 

“Phoenix Express 2012 Begins in Souda Bay”

View photos on Flickr:

Phoenix Express 2012 

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