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COMUSNAVCENT Visits Turkmenistan

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071001-21
Release Date: 10/1/2007 5:36:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bobby Northnagle, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/ U.S. 5th Fleet, concluded a visit to Turkmenistan Sept. 28 to discuss opportunities for future U.S. engagement in the Caspian Sea region.

During the two-day visit, Cosgriff and other key NAVCENT personnel met with the Turkmen Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Oil and Gas and the State Border Service. Maritime security, humanitarian and disaster preparation, and counter-narcotics were among some of the topics discussed.

“The experiences we’ve had in the Arabian Gulf region helped us develop a deep appreciation for the challenges that face new countries and new navies,” said Cosgriff. “We hope we can assist Turkmenistan in increasing their abilities in the Caspian Sea through our expertise in Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and the defense of the Iraqi oil terminals.”

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water more commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists’ use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

Like the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea is crucial to the economies of several countries, with vast hydro-carbon reserves and a booming fishing industry.

“The Caspian Sea has some of the largest hydro-carbon reserves in the world, so it’s in everyone’s interest to have a safe and stable environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jerry Boster, Director Theater Security Cooperation, Arabian Sea and Central Asian States. “Stability fosters prosperity and economic growth.”

Boster says another NAVCENT concern in the Caspian Sea is drug smuggling. Not only are drugs detrimental to societies, but many smuggling routes are used by terrorists to expedite illegal supplies and personnel.

“The more we work together with our regional partners, the more we marginalize violent extremists and drug smuggling, and by doing so comes stability for free commerce,” he said.

Over the years, the U.S. military has created a history of assistance with Turkmenistan. The U.S. Army National Guard has engaged in humanitarian, firefighting and medical training over the past ten years, and the U.S. Coast Guard has provided training to the Turkmen State Border Service and their maritime forces.

In 2001, the United States gave Turkmenistan a Coast Guard cutter, which they still use today to patrol the Caspian Sea.

Under recently elected President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, Turkmenistan has made progress in fostering democratic institutions and has created more economic opportunities for its citizens. As a result, the country has asked for increased U.S. assistance, including help from the U.S. Navy.

“This was an opportunity for NAVCENT to meet to find areas of cooperation and partnership that would be mutually beneficial,” said Cosgriff.

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