US conducts counter-terrorism drills in West Africa

Lazy eyes listen


A two-week counter-terrorism exercise led by the United States that brought together over 400 soldiers from across West Africa with the goal of combating extremist violence in the region has concluded in Ghana. According to the US military trainers in charge of the drills, the platform was also used to push the region’s nations to rely on one another rather than on non-Western powers.

Military personnel from Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria participated in the ‘Flintlock’ exercises, which concluded on March 15. Soldiers learned how to use motorcycles to counter jihadist insurgent attacks during the maritime and cross-border drills.

“You have governments that have so many problems that they start reaching out to other malign actors who are perhaps more exploitative of the resources in those countries,” said Colonel Robert Zyla of the US Special Operations Command Africa to Reuters.

This comes as anti-French sentiment grows in Mali and Burkina Faso, where demands have been made for the complete withdrawal of French military forces as former colonial powers’ influence fades.

Meanwhile, the West is concerned about Russia’s growing influence in Africa, particularly its military ties with Burkina Faso and Mali, as the Sahel region struggles to control the rising security threats posed by Jihadist groups, which have killed thousands and displaced millions.

“You only need to look at what’s going on in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see that the Russian project that’s going on there, when France is pushed aside, is a project of predation,” Macron said last year.

Meanwhile, despite Western criticism, junta-ruled Burkina Faso and Mali continue to strengthen diplomatic ties with Russia, with Moscow donating Soviet-era military equipment to the former French colonies.

Top Russian lawmaker Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes and Czech-designed Albatros L-39 bombers were delivered to Mali in January of this year to bolster the country’s efforts in countering the jihadist insurgency that has plagued the West African nation since 2012. Russia and Burkina Faso have also agreed to cooperate militarily and technologically.

At the same time, the US has expressed concerns about China establishing a naval base in West Africa, with General Michael Langley, head of US Africa Command, insisting at a recent hearing that a Chinese naval facility would provide Beijing with a “advantage” over Washington