The United States has delivered another batch of vehicles to Chad’s military as it helps equip the force to fight Islamist extremists in the region.
The US Embassy in Chad on 30 September announced that equipment worth $15 million had been delivered to Chad’s military, including 80 vehicles (Toyota Land Cruisers), communications equipment and ‘support materials’.
The equipment was handed over to the G5 Sahel security forces in Chad by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Jessica Davis Ba. The donation will help Chadian military and police forces combat terrorism and insecurity in the region, the US Embassy said. “This assistance will strengthen Chad’s ability to deploy highly mobile security forces to respond to evolving threats.”
In her address, Ba paid tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the Chadian forces and stressed that “the fight against terrorism cannot be carried out by the sole force of arms: we must have the support of the civilian population, which requires that it be treated with respect, and that security be accompanied by good governance and public services.”
The United States has delivered other equipment to Chad this year and on 11 July handed over 16 trucks, 900 medical kits and a newly constructed warehouse worth nearly $6 million. At the time, the US Embassy said it was the first part of a training and equipment programme worth 16 billion Central African Francs ($26.6 million).
“With the help of the United States, Chad’s G5 Sahel contingent will be fully trained and equipped to fight terrorism and trafficking in the region,” the US Embassy said.
In November 2018 the United States donated six new boats, six pickup trucks, spares and training worth $3 million to improve security on Lake Chad and help fight violent extremist organisations. The package formed part of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), the US government’s multi-year, multi-sectoral initiative aimed at strengthening the long-term capacity of partners in North and West Africa to destabilize and marginalize terrorist organizations and networks in the region.
Other recent donations include 60 Toyota light armoured vehicles in December 2016, 86 vehicles in February 2017 for the Chadian Special Forces (72 Toyota Land Cruisers and 14 Mercedes Atego trucks to patrol the borders, especially with Libya), and two Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft and maintenance hangars, which were handed over in May 2018. The aircraft and hangars were worth $43 million.
The United States has also provided training to Chad’s military, including in combat medicine and explosive ordnance disposal and held the 2017 edition of the Flintlock exercise in Chad.
Other G5 Sahel nations have received equipment from the United States, such as Mauritania, which took delivery of 155 vehicles (mostly Land Cruisers) from July this year. The European Union also supports the counter-terrorism force and in July pledged to give another $155 million to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, including its police component. The Force comprises Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
In mid-September, West African leaders pledged $1 billion to combat the spiralling threat of Islamist militancy in the region, after the 15 members of the ECOWAS regional bloc and the presidents of Mauritania and Chad gathered for an extraordinary summit in Ougadougou to address the growing insecurity.
ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said the commission decided to “contribute financially and urgently to joint efforts in the fight against terrorism” by pledging $1 billion.
In July, the UN said Islamist attacks were spreading so fast in West Africa the region should consider bolstering response beyond current military efforts.
In 2017, five countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania – backed by France, launched the G5 Sahel task force to combat the insurgents. The initiative is perennially underfunded.