1,500 African soldiers from Nigeria, 33 other countries undergo special training on counter terrorism in Senegal
London, Feb. 23, 2020 (AltAfrica)-About 10 African soldiers from Burkina Faso are among a select group of African soldiers currently being trained to battle West Africa’s fast-growing extremist threat by counter-terrorism specialists from from the U. S army
In all, More than 1,500 service members from the armies of 34 African and partner training nations have assembled for the Flintlock exercises in Senegal and Mauritania, the two countries in West Africa’s sprawling Sahel region that so far have not been hit by violence from extremists linked to al-Qaida or the Islamic State group.
They are carrying out drills as part of the U.S. military-led annual counterterrorism exercise in West Africa, which this year takes place in the shadow of possible U.S. troop cuts in Africa although extremist attacks in the region have reached a worrying new level.
The African soldiers will equally undergo drills bothering on crouching in the sparse brush, manoeuvring into formations through a divide, and then shooting at a target.
The U.S. Africa Command, which organizes the two weeks of training, defers questions about the possible troop cuts to the Pentagon. It has said European nations should step up to help France’s 5,000-strong force leading the counter-terror fight in the Sahel, the region just below the Sahara Desert. French leaders have appealed to Washington to keep U.S. troops in place.
“We hope they will continue to support in security areas. We hope they will continue to support us in training and intelligence,” he said of U.S. forces.
Extremists know no boundaries, Col. Magatte Ndiaye, a spokesman for Senegal’s armed forces, told The Associated Press. “We must have a synergy of international action to face this threat,” he said.
“We have trust in the Americans,” he added. “They are aware of the situation and I’m sure they’ll take a decision that makes good sense.”
Security in the Sahel region continues to deteriorate and requires international participation, said the commander of Special Operations Command Africa, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dagvin Anderson. “It’s not just a U.S. or Western effort. It takes partnerships across the international community, and it takes close partnership within the region in order to be effective,” he said.