In July, the Government of Liberia announced the establishment of a National Maritime Security Commission. As Liberia prepares to become an oil producing country- and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea worsens- the announcement arrives at a critical time for the country. Developing a strategy in meeting those challenges is critical for a country like Liberia whose economic prosperity is heavily reliant on export.
The National Maritime Security Commission’s strategy will have to balance the prosperity of the sea against the increasing threats of piracy and narco-trafficking. Such balancing act requires the expertise and judgment of national policymakers, and a thorough analysis of past and current activities in the maritime domain.
In regards to the latter, the analysis will provide more clarity on the probability of attacks to the homeland and the nature of maritime threats that this strategy should be made to address. It will help identify gaps regarding maritime-space control that the commission can utilize as building blocks for the national maritime strategy. One useful approach that the commission could utilize for a rigorous analysis of this kind is a simulated situational scenario. The simulated situational scenario allows a rigorous testing of strategy assumptions and assists policy leaders refine their recommendations.
In the press release announcing the establishment of the commission, the Executive Mansion hailed it as a representative of “ministries and agencies relevant to Liberia’s maritime sectors”. In practice, the commission list may need to go beyond traditional areas, such as the Ministry of Transport and county governments. A significant number of the pirated oil and trafficked drugs transported across West Africa are couriered by ground transportation and away from capital cities. Maritime security is entangled in many on-land issues, challenging policy makers in degrees of complexity and difficulty never experienced before.
The Liberian government’s primary goal is to keep its citizens safe from foreign threats. The creation of a commission to develop a maritime strategy which will protect Liberia’s post-conflict stability from threats arrived by sea is a key step in making that possible. It is imperative considering the new, emerging security challenges facing Liberia today that the commission delivers a high quality maritime strategy.
Kaade Wallace is a Master’s degree candidate in National Security and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College. Ms. Wallace resides in the U.S.