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US Starts Counterterrorism Training Programme In Africa

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In an effort to fortify border defenses in the struggle against Islamist insurgents who are expanding into  new areas in the south, the United States started its annual counterterrorism training programme for African troops in Ghana on Wednesday.

The Flintlock programme got its start in the sweltering northern town of Daboya at a military base where American and European instructors trained soldiers from all over Africa in first aid and firing exercises.

“Flintlock intends to strengthen the ability of key partner nations in the region to counter violent extremist organizations, collaborate across borders, and provide security for their people,” US Africa Command said in a statement.

The training comes at a crucial moment for West Africa, where organizations affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda continue to regularly attack civilians and the military in spite of expensive interventions by foreign forces.

An insurgency that started in Mali in 2012 has since grown into a regional network of rival Islamist organizations that operate throughout sizable portions of landlocked Niger and Burkina Faso and have recently expanded into coastal nations like Benin, Togo, and the Ivory Coast.

The bloodshed has caused millions of people to flee their homes.

While security experts claim organized crime is rampant and poor, remote communities could be susceptible to recruitment, as they have been in neighboring countries, violence has so far avoided Ghana’s rural north, which borders Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is only 160 kilometres (less than 100 miles) away from Daboya.

Aneliese Bernard, director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors, a U.S.-based risk advisory organisation, advised partners to seize this opportunity because counterterrorism efforts in West Africa have historically been ineffective once the overt phase of the insurgency (such as local recruitment) has begun.

Military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea since 2020 have complicated efforts at cross-border cooperation and resulted in some temporary sanctions and border closures.

France withdrew thousands of soldiers from Mali and Burkina Faso over the past year due to disputes with juntas, which some analysts claimed may have aided Islamist groups.

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