US Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, US Africa Command, travelled to West Africa between 15 and 19 November to discuss security issues across the region. Townsend met leaders and chiefs of defence in Niger, Chad, Mali, and Senegal.
In Niamey, Niger, Townsend met with the Deputy Chief of Defence Brigadier General Ibra Boulama Issa and other Nigerien leaders. He highlighted their willingness and determination to fight against violent extremist organizations and discussed keys to progress in the Sahel, Africom said.
“Partnerships and better coordination in West Africa remain key to countering the escalating violent extremism in the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali,” said Townsend. “We are grateful to our African partners in this region, as well as the French and other European allies, for their continued commitment to addressing regional security issues.”
During a stop in Chad, Townsend met with Chad President Idriss Déby. Townsend also visited US and international service members. Townsend thanked Chad for its continued leadership in regional security and for hosting US troops.
At a brief stop in Bamako, Mali, Townsend met with transition government President Bah N’Daw to discuss concerns over stability in the region and the current conditions in Mali. Townsend met with the transition President to assess the situation and security in Mali and express concern over existing tri-border regional instability.
“We are concerned about escalating violence in the Sahel,” said Townsend. “The need to counter violent extremist activity remains a reality. It will take continued and broad partnership to solve some of the challenges facing the region.”
While in Mali, Townsend also met with the French Operation Barkhane team and Task Force Takuba, recognizing their efforts to bring increased security and stability to the Sahel.
“The contributions of the international community, including the French and other European partners, are critical to success and stability in Africa,” said Townsend.
In Senegal, Townsend met with the country’s President Macky Sall and Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Birame Diop. Townsend and Sall discussed security issues in the region and additional engagement opportunities.
Senegal holds an important location on the western coast of Africa and next February will host Flintlock, an annual multinational military exercise conducted by US Special Operations Command Africa.
“US Africa Command will continue to work as part of a US whole of government team to strengthen partnerships and bring increased stability to the region,” said Townsend. “It is important we remain prepared for a range of threats in West Africa and all across the African continent.”