The United States and Mozambique have launched a second military Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) programme, which will see US Special Operations Forces train with more than 100 Mozambican commandos and rangers to improve capabilities on the battlefield.
The US Embassy in Mozambique said the JCET programme was launched on 9 August. It follows the first JCET programme that was launched on 15 March this year that saw US military personnel train Mozambican marines. This concluded in May and was followed by tactical combat casualty care and combat lifesaver training courses in June 2021.
“In addition to capacity building, the US Department of Defence (DoD) JCET exercise will strengthen the growing relations between the United States of America and the Republic of Mozambique. The US government will also provide medical and communications equipment to those units trained,” the US Embassy said.
“This training programme doubled in size in just four months, proof that the United States is committed to capacity building within Mozambique’s armed forces,” said US Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis W Hearne. “In all of our security assistance, the United States prioritizes respect for human rights and the protection of civilians,” the Ambassador said.
The United States is a bilateral donor to Mozambique, providing more than $500 million in annual assistance to improve the quality of healthcare and education, promote economic prosperity and security, assist with climate adaptation and environmental protection, and support the overall development of this nation.
It is also concerned with Mozambique’s security situation and the Islamist insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado province, which has killed around 3 000 people and displaced nearly a million. Earlier this month, Antony J Blinken, Secretary of State, designated Islamic State Mozambique leaders as terrorists.
Bonomade Machude Omar, also known as Abu Sulayfa Muhammad and Ibn Omar, leads the Military and External Affairs Departments for ISIS-Mozambique and serves as the senior commander and lead coordinator for all attacks conducted by the group in northern Mozambique, as well as the lead facilitator and communications conduit for the group, Blinken said. During the March 2021 attack on Palma, Omar led one group of fighters while Abu Yasir Hassan, the leader of ISIS-Mozambique, led another group of fighters, and Omar also led the attack on the Amarula Hotel in Palma. Omar has been responsible for attacks in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, and Mtwara Region, Tanzania.
“The United States is committed to disrupting the financing methods of ISIS-Mozambique, JNIM (Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin), and al-Shabaab — all of which are designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and SDGTs (Specially Designated Global Terrorists) — limiting their abilities to conduct further attacks against civilians and supporting our partners in efforts to disrupt terrorism finance. Addressing the terrorist threat across the continent will require working closely with our partners to degrade the capacity and operations of these terrorist groups, combatting their control and influence in West, East, and Southern Africa,” Blinken said.
The United States is not the only country helping train Mozambique’s military. Zimbabwe recently announced it was sending training troops and in mid-July, the European Union said it will set up a military training mission in Mozambique to help the government tackle the insurgency and to protect civilians.
Mozambique, which has called on the EU for help, has been grappling with a rebellion in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado since 2017. Violence has grown significantly in the past year.
Portugal already sent 60 soldiers to its former colony in May to run a four-month programme training troops to counter the insurgency, share intelligence and use drones to track militants’ movements.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that 200-300 personnel could be deployed to Mozambique by the end of the year.