Africom, Ghana host military intelligence conference


U.S Africa Command and the Ghana Armed Forces host 2019 North and West Africa Directors of Military Intelligence Conference

United States Africa Command (Africom) and the Ghana Armed Forces co-hosted the 2019 North and West Africa Directors of Military Intelligence Conference at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre in Accra last month.

Directors of military intelligence attended the maiden conference on 18 and 19 November under the theme “Intelligent Support Operations.” Representatives from 17 African countries and delegations from four North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners and Africom took part. The conference focused on the dynamic Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) threat, advancement of intelligence sharing and the regional partnership to combat regional threats to peace and security.

In his opening remarks, the Ghanaian Minister for Defence, Hon Dominic Nitiwul, drew the attention of participants to the current challenges with violent extremists as the continent is scourged by transnational and organized crimes, such as terrorism, political strife, civil wars, violent extremisms, cyber-crimes and farmer-herder conflicts. The minister expressed worry at the rate of poverty, limited economic opportunities, and the rise of environmental degradation and health pandemics because of the current challenges. He charged the leaders to make up for the shortfalls in intelligence gathering and sharing by reminding them that, stabilizing North and West Africa may halt the speed of violent extremism, and safeguard the territorial integrity of the Sub-region rests with them.

On her part, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan commended Africom and the Ghana Armed Forces for convening the conference to discuss their shared interest of regional peace and security. She raised concerns about the increase of threats and attacks from growing networks of international VEOs that has plagued the North and West African Sub-region.

She encouraged participants to take keen interest in coming out with discourse that will help protect the entire region rather than their own countries. The ambassador advised that they must strengthen their law enforcement, border security, development, health, education, administration of justice, public outreach, and good governance and private sector growth to generate jobs.

On behalf of Africom, the Director of intelligence, US Navy Rear Admiral Heidi Berg reinforced the importance of improving intelligence support to a collective response to violent extremism.

“The foundation of intelligence sharing is trust, and the trust we build here is the trust we need in the field,” she said.

She highlighted this close collaboration between intelligence services ensures violent extremist groups cannot exploit seams between nations.

“Our persistent and collective engagement will prepare us for enduring success against shared adversaries, Berg said. Indeed, it is only through synchronized, joint approaches that we ensure regional peace and prosperity.”

Earlier, the Director General, Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier General Peter Nicholas Andoh outlined intelligence as one of the main pillars for a successful combat strategy in the fight against terrorism and the activities of extremist groups. He drew the attention of the leaders to the fact that these groups have increased in number and organisation. He added that extremist groups collaborate and share information across national borders in a bid to outwit the security forces and implement their selfish desires on the populace.

Andoh said the expectation of the conference is to achieve a common understanding of the threat that confronts Africa and he challenged the participants to proffer intelligent assessments that can explore the real social interventions needed with the necessary mechanisms in order to bring lasting peace to the sub-region.