United States Africa Command pledges to support security in Sahel

The U.S. is committed to supporting security in the Sahel, Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg said on Monday.

U.S. Marines with Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Company, Europe, Commander, Task Force - 68, and French armed forces soldiers conduct Military Operations in Urban Terrain training during a joint forces readiness exercise in Timbuktu, Mali, April 16, 2021. This latest trip to Timbuktu tested the command’s ability to rapidly move troops from Europe into West Africa. 
U.S. Marines with Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Company, Europe, Commander, Task Force – 68, and French armed forces soldiers conduct Military Operations in Urban Terrain training during a joint forces readiness exercise in Timbuktu, Mali, April 16, 2021. This latest trip to Timbuktu tested the command’s ability to rapidly move troops from Europe into West Africa.

This comes as threats to regional security have grown, prompting a call to move the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters to the African continent.

Berg, the AFRICOM Director of Intelligence, spoke at the end of visits to Senegal and Mali meant to affirm U.S. bilateral security partnerships and observe French counter-terrorism capabilities.

“We continue to demonstrate our support and partnership in the Sahel to both our African and European partners in the fight against violent extremism.” Berg said.  

In Dakar, Senegal, Berg met with U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Tulinabo Mushingi and Col. Jean Dieme, Senegalese director of military intelligence. She also met with “members” of the Éléments Français au Sénégal (EFS), the French Armed Forces in Senegal.

At the French Desert Operation Platform in Gao, Mali, she was briefed on France’s counter-IED efforts and its aviation unit. The briefings also underscored the importance of intelligence sharing, which has been the main source of U.S. support to counter-terrorism operations aside from training.

Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, director, intelligence and knowledge development directorate, U.S. Africa Command, delivers remarks during the opening ceremony of exercise Cutlass Express in Djibouti. 
Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, director, intelligence and knowledge development directorate, U.S. Africa Command, delivers remarks during the opening ceremony of exercise Cutlass Express in Djibouti.

Berg added that the U.S. supports “front-line deployments with MINUSMA,” the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

“Recently, U.S. Africa Command conducted a series of exercises to test the ability of U.S. forces to deploy and operate at various locations on short notice,” AFRICOM Office of Public Affairs noted in a statement on Berg’s West Africa trip.

The violent extremist organizations (VEOs) that AFRICOM considers “top threats” are Jama’at Nusr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, and Boko Haram.

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