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US and partners work to strengthen sea policing in the Med

A U.S.-led exercise designed to improve protection of vital shipping lanes in the Mediterranean Sea and thwart seaborne crimes in North Africa wraps up this weekend, amid growing tensions in the region.

Fourteen countries participated in the weeklong Phoenix Express exercise near Morocco, U.S. Africa Command’s third and final sea policing drill this year, where the navies worked together on training to combat drug smuggling, illegal immigration, unlawful fishing and other activities that can hurt local economies and fund violent extremism.

The exercise, focused on the waters between Europe and Africa, is smaller than its predecessors – Obangame Express in West Africa and Cutlass Express in East Africa – but still considered an important part of bolstering security in and around Africa, where U.S. forces are helping battle terrorist threats and seeking to bring stability.

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