The U.S. says it is employing partner-building efforts and targeted investments to defeat Boko Haram and enhance security in Africa.
The Commander of Africa Command (AfriCom), Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday that the mission was focusing on regional and continental extremist groups in Africa.
He said “Africom’s mission in western Africa centres on extremist groups — Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, an ISIS splinter group.
“Since 2011, Boko Haram consistently carried out attacks against civilians and targeted partner regional governments and military forces in the Lake Chad basin region.
“Africom works with forces from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria in a multinational joint task force.
“The task force has been successful in enabling multinational cooperation to coordinate multinational operations, and placed significant pressure on Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa.”
In Central Africa, through the combined efforts of military forces, civilian agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations, Africom works to build partner capacity to address regional threats, he stressed.
Waldhauser said some of the security threats in Africa were maritime security, illicit trafficking of goods and persons, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other criminal networks and enterprises.
He added that “we support the efforts to enable African partners to respond to humanitarian crises, mass atrocities, disaster contingencies and to support peace operations.
“Through the ‘National Guard’s State Partnership Programme’, along with their African partners, we’ve improved disaster management competency and readiness to assist civilian-led efforts.
“Africom sees ‘great value’ in and fully supports the National Guard’s persistent engagement in the programme. Africom’s mission is dynamic and complex, and requires innovative solutions.
“Even with limited resources and capabilities, Africa Command aggressively works with partners and allies to execute our missions and mitigate risks.
“Moving forward, we will continue to focus our decisive efforts on building African partner capacity, and will continue to work closely with international and interagency partners to make small, wise investments which pay huge dividends in building stable and effective governments.”
The general, however, said that parts of Africa remained “a battleground.
“Parts of Africa remain battlegrounds between ideologies, interests and values. Equality, prosperity and peace are often pitted against extremism, oppression and conflict.
“Transregional violent extremist organisations on the continent constitute the most direct security threat to the U.S.”
He explained that Africom’s military strategy had, however, articulated long-term, regionally focused approach for safe and stable Africa.