General Stephen Townsend, Commander, US Africa Command, initiated his first multi-country regional visit to West Africa beginning with the Republic of Mali on 16 September.
“The U.S. Embassy in Bamako welcomes General Townsend’s visit as an opportunity to meet directly with Mali’s leaders and for him to see the US government-wide efforts that show the strong partnership we have with the Malian people,” said US Ambassador Dennis B Hankins. “Working together, our governments are better able to combat the root causes of terrorism, contain threats, and improve the prosperity and long-term stability of this beautiful country and region.”
During his inaugural visit, he met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and senior Malian military leaders to discuss defence and security-related issues related to the complex and evolving threat environment in the Sahel.
Townsend also met with leaders of the G5 Sahel Joint Task Force. This African-led organization is comprised of five neighbouring countries that respond to transnational security, humanitarian, and development challenges in the Sahel.
In its first year, the nascent G5 Sahel Joint Force continues to grow and make operational strides, Africom said.
“The G5 Sahel force has a tough mission,” said Townsend. “Our continued assistance and partnership will help them, the Malian security forces and our other partners as they work to achieve it. It is important to contain the spread of terrorism in this region.”
US military funding to the G5 Sahel Joint Force provides equipment, training, and advisory support to allow G5 members to operate, protect, and maintain mobile infantry forces in their fight against violent extremist groups in the region, Africom said. “In addition to the Joint Force support, Africom provides bilateral assistance to strengthen the military, justice, and law enforcement capabilities of our G5 partners.”
“The primary US military focus in Mali is defence institution building with the goal of positioning African partner self-sufficiency, enabling them to address and resolve issues on their own.”
Townsend added, “Security in this region relies on an international effort to disrupt and neutralize terror networks. While we will continue to help Mali build and enhance their capabilities to prevent the spread of violence in the Sahel, ultimate success requires African-led operations and solutions.”