US Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, US Africa Command, continued a multi-day visit to West Africa, with stops in Togo and Benin, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Townsend expressed the command’s readiness to help both partner nations increase their ability to secure their northern border areas from the terrorist threat and improve security cooperation across the region.
In Togo, Townsend and US Ambassador Eric Stromayer met with President Faure Gnassingbe, Minister of Armed Forces Essozimna Marguerite Gnakade, Chief of Defense Staff General Dadja Maganawe, and other high-ranking security leaders to recognize the strong military ties between the United States and Togo, and to encourage Togo’s continued role in regional security, the US military’s Africa Command reports.
“I commend Togo’s contributions to regional and maritime security through their peacekeeping deployments, active participation in naval exercises like Obangame Express, and other cooperative efforts. US Africa Command looks forward to building upon our partnership through more focused bilateral training and assistance,” said Townsend.
In Benin, Townsend and US Ambassador Patricia Mahoney met with President Patrice Talon, where he stressed that greater safety and security in northern Benin will benefit both Beninese citizens and broader regional security efforts.
“Our coastal West African partners share many security threats. Effectively countering those threats requires a cooperative regional approach. Like all of our security partners in West Africa, Benin has an important role. We continue to work with Benin and other partners to build capacity and improve interoperability,” said Townsend.
Together with US Africa Command’s Senior Development Advisor, Barbara Hughes, Townsend also met with USAID’s Benin country representative, Carl Anderson, to discuss ways to cooperate in community strengthening and civil society approaches to thwarting the spread of violent extremist ideologies.
Townsend, commander made stops in Ghana and Ivory Coast earlier in the week. He met with government officials and senior military representatives to discuss the need for continued cross-border cooperation to improve and maintain security across the region.
“The visits to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have been very productive,” said Townsend. “I was able to meet with senior African leaders to talk about the importance of continuing our regional approach to addressing security issues and how we at US Africa Command can help.”
In Ghana, Townsend met with the Ghanaian Air Chief Air Vice Marshall Frank Hanson and Air Commodore David Akrong, air force base commander in Tamale. Townsend also visited Soldiers from the US Army’s 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, which supports the US Africa Command mission.
The 2nd SFAB provides trainer-advisers who work with security partners across the African continent to increase theatre security cooperation efforts.
“The SFAB’s provide a unique capability to the command. They provide tailored support to our African partners,” said US Marine Corps Sergeant Major Richard Thresher, senior enlisted leader, US Africa Command. “They are in Ghana to train, support and advise the Ghanaian Armed Forces in support of their operations focused on emerging terrorist threats and border security.”
In Côte d’Ivoire, Townsend met with Ivoirian president Alassane Ouattara, Minister of Defense, Téné Birahima Ouattara, Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Lassina Doumbia, and other Ivorian security leaders to discuss cooperative training opportunities. Townsend also toured the International Counter-Terrorism Training Academy, French acronym AILCT.
The AILCT was established in October 2018 in partnership with France. The academy brings together specialized services to tackle security challenges posed by terrorist threats from both a regional and global perspective.
“US Africa Command and our West African partners continue to work toward our shared goal of securing their northern borders from encroachment by terrorist and other violent groups, improving maritime domain awareness, and increasing security cooperation across the region,” Africom said.