The recent African Land Forces Summit (ALFS) 2019 hosted in Botswana was considered a great success by U.S Army Major General Roger L. Cloutier, Commander of U.S. Army Africa and Major General Molefi Seikano, the Ground Forces Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, with discussions on terrorism dominating the day.
With over 50 countries across the globe being represented, Cloutier believed the ALFS is a catalyst for countries to engage with each other in developing relationships and solutions to the common and uncommon problems land forces in Africa and around the globe face. Cloutier went onto say, “We gained a tremendous amount from ALFS that allowed us to conduct bilateral engagements, multilateral engagements and really to strengthen the already-existing relationships we had with many of the countries on the African continent and to forge new ones.”
A major problem that the African continent is currently facing is terrorism. In addressing terrorism, Seikano stated that terrorism is a network and that, “It takes partnerships to be able to break those networks. So this conference, this Summit is an enabler for that network which will go on to enabling sharing of information and coming up with the best responses to dealing with the threats across the region.”
Addressing terrorism, particularly in North, West and East Africa could not be more pertinent in addressing land security.
The presence of terrorism in Africa is not exclusive to the Northern, Western and Eastern parts of Africa. As recently as June 2019, in Northern Mozambique, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed an attack against Mozambican security forces as part of a jihadist insurgency in Mozambique.
Cloutier maintains that the United States of America’s involvement in the deterrence and defeating of these terrorists groups has never been higher but is indirect to terrorist conflict. Primarily through exercises and training African troops, Cloutier states, “You know in FY-19 [Fiscal year 2019], nine multilateral exercises that included you know, over 30 African countries, over 250 theatre security cooperation events and we’re committed to being great partners on the African continent, providing training where it’s needed, providing assistance where it’s needed.”
For 2019 the number of terrorist attacks in Africa are: 85 in January, 78 in February, 50 in March, 40 in April, 42 in May, 43 in June, 9 in July. These attacks all range in death toll with some being kidnaps. The vast majority of these attacks were perpetrated by Boko Haram and Al-Shaabab with all being Islamic extremists.
US involvement in counter-terrorism in Africa could not be more important. Cloutier stated, “The United States seeks to limit its presence on the ground in Africa as I said before. We work by, with and through our Africa partners, so that means most of the activities are conducted by our African partners with the support of the United States and through cooperative relationships.” In light of these terrorist statistics and the United States seeking to limit its presence on the ground in Africa, eliminating these terrorists groups remains vital and of extreme importance to the peaceful democracies of Africa.”