U.S. helping African partners fight terrorism

Trucks and military personnel in desert with military aircraft taking off overhead (U.S. Army/Private First Class Clara Soria-Hernandez)
An A-29B Super Tucano plane flies over Mauritanian soldiers at the start of training with U.S. forces in Atar, Mauritania, February 17. (U.S. Army/Private First Class Clara Soria-Hernandez)

The United States and African nations are boosting defenses against terrorist groups, strengthening partnerships to improve security and expand development.

African nations including Chad, Guinea, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal came together with U.S. and coalition partners from February 17 to February 28 in Exercise Flintlock. Flintlock is an annual African-led, integrated military and law-enforcement exercise that has strengthened key North and West African forces as well as Western Special Operations Forces since 2005. Mauritania and Senegal hosted this year’s event.

Soldiers in desert shooting guns (U.S. Army/Specialist Wheeler Brunschmid)
Soldiers from Chad practice marksmanship near Kaédi, Mauritania, during joint training February 12. (U.S. Army/Specialist Wheeler Brunschmid)

“Our African partners play a role in addressing their own challenges. We are encouraged that the Sahelian countries have individually and collectively exercised greater leadership in addressing their fragility and security challenges, with support from the United States and other international partners,” Whitney Baird, deputy assistant secretary of state for West Africa and security affairs, said recently to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The exercise helps West African nations protect their borders and provide security, and it is part of the United States’ long-standing commitment to promoting good governance, security and economic growth in Africa, said R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.

Children looking at camera while man speaks in background (U.S. Army/Corporal Kevin Sterling Payne)
U.S. and Mauritanian military officials give school supplies to children in Kaédi, Mauritania, February 19. (U.S. Army/Corporal Kevin Sterling Payne)

For example, the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa initiative is advancing new partnerships between U.S. and African businesses, creating jobs and expanding exports in both regions.

The U.S. late last year announced $5 billion in financing for the construction of a liquefied natural gas facility in Mozambique. Other similar projects will improve access to electricity in Senegal and to clean water in Rwanda.

Cooper said Flintlock highlights the United States’ mutually beneficial partnerships with African nations that lead to self-sufficiency, not burdensome debt.

Person in military uniform walking toward camera on red carpet with military personnel in formation behind him (U.S. Army/Specialist Miguel Pena)
African partners celebrate the end of the two-week training with U.S. and coalition forces, near Thiès, Senegal, on February 28. (U.S. Army/Specialist Miguel Pena)

“Partnership is not just a means to an end, but a path which we value for the friendships it creates, and the lessons we all learn, side by side,” he said.