US conducts ‘counter-terrorism’ drills in West Africa

USSOCAF Commander Rear Adm Milton J Sands III greets partner forces after their completion of the culminating training event for Flintlock23 in Volta, Ghana. [Photo: Twitter/SOCAFRICA]

A two-week US-led counter-terrorism exercise that assembled over 400 soldiers from across West Africa with the aim of combatting extremist violence in the region has concluded in Ghana.

According to the US military trainers overseeing the drills, the platform was also used to press nations in the region to rely on each other rather than on non-Western powers, the Russian TV Network RT reported.

Military personnel from Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria took part in the exercises, dubbed ‘Flintlock’, which wrapped up on March 15. During the maritime and cross-border drills, soldiers learned, among other things, how to use motorcycles to counter jihadist insurgent attacks.

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

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

Meanwhile, concerns are growing in the West 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 claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.

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