U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, spoke with Senegalese Chief of Defense, Air Force Lieutenant General Birame Diop, on Apr. 24 via telephone. The military leaders discussed a range of topics from military exercises to COVID-19 response.
“COVID-19 impacts how we currently interface with our African partners, but the virus is not stopping our support,” said Townsend. “Senegal is everything we ask for in a partner, and we will continue to stay fully engaged with Senegal to promote security and stability.”
Diop echoed Townsend’s sentiments.
“Africa Command remains for us a valuable strategic partner. In this pandemic context, our focus is to keep our troops safe, and support the government in implementing Senegal’s National Response Plan,” said Diop.
Townsend and Diop discussed Exercise United Accord, a multinational army exercise scheduled to be hosted by Senegal Sept. 10-25.
The command’s support to Senegal includes a UN-standard level-II field hospital, provided in October 2019 in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. Senegal recently deployed that field hospital to help support its response to COVID-19.
Townsend and Diop agreed on the importance of security services’ positive role in helping citizens through the COVID-19 crisis. Just as U.S. military medical officers are assisting in the U.S. response, the Senegalese Armed Forces medical professionals are serving as advisors in regional offices and providing medical support to civilians in Senegal.
Senegal is also ramping up its COVID-19 testing. Once adequately resourced, the Military Hospital of Ouakam will support the Government of Senegal in its fight against the virus by conducting mass testing.
The generals also discussed non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps development. Diop thanked Townsend for AFRICOM’s support in promoting Senegal’s NCO corps, and said that Senegal values U.S. Africa Command’s NCO professional development programs.
Diop relayed that he looks forward to continuing to advance and expand the US-Senegal bilateral partnership in NCO corps development, and emphasized his goal to promote and inspire NCO development throughout West Africa.
Townsend will continue to conduct phone calls with African partners. Such engagements reaffirm U.S. commitment to Africa in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Africa Command said.