Senegal’s local police forces are getting tactical training under a U.S.-backed program to combat jihadist groups in the region.

The U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program has funded a military-style training center in Thiès, Senegal. American instructors offer tactical training to Senegalese law enforcement officers and gendarmes.

The training helps law enforcement agencies deter, disrupt, and investigate terrorism, “and in the process the training helps them save lives,” said Charles Collins, the Anti-Terrorism Assistance resident program manager.

It’s the first Anti-Terrorism Assistance training center in West Africa. The trainees are currently only from Senegal, but in the future the State Department expects to train law enforcement officers from the United States’ partner nations in West Africa.

“We value our relationship with Senegal, which is rooted in the shared ideals of prosperity, security and good governance,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March. He noted the two countries’ longstanding mutual interests in “safeguarding regional and global security.”

Senegal has partnered with the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program since 1985.

Tactical training includes firearm and explosive range training, and open areas for border patrol training. The center also provides classroom instruction in anti-terrorism.

“Senegal is a vital partner in West Africa, and the construction of this regional training center reinforces the crucial role that Senegal plays as a regional leader in our counterterrorism efforts,” U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Tulinabo Mushingi said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Thiès regional center in 2018.

The Blaise Diagne International Airport, outside of Dakar, recently received new body scanners and explosive detectors, helping Senegal meet international airport-security standards. The Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program provided the equipment and airport-security training.

“The cooperation style we pursue is a win-win partnership,” Mushingi said.