U.S. Africa Command leaders visit Mauritania to highlight cooperation and importance of G5 Sahel

A U.S. Africa Command senior leader delegation met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani to discuss the potential for greater partnership and engagement during a visit to the nation’s capital, Nouakchott, July 13-15.

“Mauritania has been a great friend and partner over the years – consistently providing exceptional support and participation in our multi-lateral exercises, including hosting a previous Exercise Flintlock in 2020,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Smith, deputy commander, U.S. Africa Command. “We look forward to expanding our cooperation and partnership.”

“President Ghazouani understands the critical role multinational cooperation plays in improving regional security,” said Amb. Andrew Young, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy to the commander for Civil-Military Engagement. “We want to continue to partner with Mauritania to counter violent extremists in this region.”

In addresses to the media both Smith and Young discussed the vital role Mauritania plays in regional security as a founding member of the G5 Sahel, a regional cooperative framework created in 2014 headquartered in Nouakchott. Member nations include Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mali.

“We’re thankful for everything the Mauritanian people and government do to support the G5 Sahel and its partners,” said Young. “We are pleased to have contributed over $500 million in assistance to the G5 Sahel, including equipping the Mauritania Battalion.”

During the visit, the delegation also toured the G5 Sahel Defense College, a project launched in 2018 to provide a common training and officer formation program for G5 military forces. Smith and Young met with the college’s third class of students.

The U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania, Cynthia Kierscht, joined the delegation, whose three-day visit also included meetings with Mauritania’s Minister of Defense, Chief of Defense and military service chiefs. 

“We are very pleased to have been able to host our colleagues from AFRICOM,” Kierscht said. “Our diplomatic, defense and development partnerships will improve stability, security and prosperity in Mauritania.”

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