Most countries have a National Development
Plan, which is a document that lays out a
strategy for economic growth and stability.
It is prepared by an appointed council and
addresses anything from infrastructure
development to initiatives for agricultural
growth that will boost the local economy.
Gabon recently approved an Economic
Revitalization Plan in which the government
has committed to improvement projects
that will grow and diversify their economy,
stabilize their infrastructure and improve
the lives of their citizens. The Gabonese
government realizes that in order to continue
being an attractive destination for foreign
investors, they must show commitment to
this plan. But how do they do this?
By committing to initiatives within these
plans, countries have access to external
resources that can provide the tools, training
and expertise to ensure they meet their goals
through a sustainable progress, known as
A Capacity Building Model
Earlier this year, I was deployed to Gabon
where I was part of a United States Coast
Guard team training the Gabonese Navy.
This training evolution was part of a much
larger initiative which falls under the
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
(DSCA), whose purpose is to “develop and
execute innovative Security Cooperation
solutions that support the United States and
A dirt road in a small fishing village in Cape Lopez, Gabon. Oil exploration has shifted offshore to meet the economic demands for exportation in
Port Gentil, Gabon.
partner interests.” The initiative focuses
on these key themes: leadership, integrity,
teamwork, innovation and efficiency.
We have a process for conducting
exportable training that involves a
sequence of three phases. When a
country sees a gap or need, they request
assistance and training. We identify
which existing course curriculum might
fit the request and select the appropriate
personnel to deliver the training.
Phase I involves training personnel
in basic skill sets for whatever the
requested topic may be. Phase II is our
“train the trainer” phase, which involves
instruction in classroom management,
development and delivery of the same
topic content that was delivered in
the previous training. And the third
phase is the graduate level, where those
personnel are delivering the content to
their members under observation and
evaluation from our teams.
In the case with Gabon, a team had
previously conducted Phase I training
with the group of Navy personnel. Our
team arrived roughly a month later to
deliver Phase II. The selected personnel
were motivated, experienced and ready
to take on the challenge of becoming
the trainers. We were quickly impressed
by their ability to effectively deliver the
content to each other and our team.
They displayed the skills necessary
to successfully develop, design and
deliver training, and they did so despite
consistent power losses and heavy rain
storms that delayed the training process.
Their resilience further indicated the
commitment and dedication to investing
in sustainable training programs that will
carry throughout their government.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education
is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the world.”
Sharing resources through global
capacity building directly contributes to
diplomacy and national development.
A strong and capable government
empowers strong and capable citizens.
This combination facilitates progress and
presents stable platforms to carry out
plans for improvement, revitalization and
Michelle Schopp is an officer in the United States Coast
Guard and Chief of the International Resident Training
Branch in Yorktown, VA. She has 20 years of extensive
background in the maritime industry, including
environmental management and training of maritime
professionals from around the world.