"A US navy carrier battlegroup is to launch a "show of force" in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea off west Africa as part of an unprecedented global
operation to demonstrate America's command of the high seas, a US diplomatic source told AFP on Friday."
"The foray by a heavily armed battlegroup into the waters off Nigeria, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea and other African oil producers, comes at a time
when fuel prices are topping the US political agenda and security crises in the Gulf region are pushing demands for greater diversification in energy
"The Abuja-based diplomat told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that the Gulf of Guinea was "a place where there is not normally an American
presence" and described the operation as "a show of force."
"Operation Summer Pulse '04 aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the US navy; before we only had two or three operations involving aircraft
carriers at any one time," he said, adding that now seven carrier groups are to be deployed in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean and
the Gulf of Guinea."
"The navy wants, through this exercise, to demonstrate to the world that even with all its current responsibilities, it can still position
half-a-dozen aircraft carriers withh all the neccessary support ships in the four corners of the world at the same time," he said."
"In Washington, a statement on the Pentagon website, said: "Beginning this week and continuing through August, the Navy will exercise the full range
of skills involved in simultaneously deploying and employing carrier strike groups around the world."
"Summer Pulse '04 will include scheduled deployments, surge operations, joint and international exercises, and other advanced training and port
visits," it added, although the Nigerian military told AFP it had no knowledge of any upcoming joint programmes in the Gulf of Guinea."
"The US diplomatic source said that future joint exercises were under consideration, but that the planned visit of a US navy admiral had been
postponed until "August or September"."