AFRICOM Commander Visits Togo, Benin To Strengthen Cooperation

The US Africa Command boss is visiting several countries in West Africa, which falls under his command’s area of responsibility.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, the Head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Army has expressed the command’s readiness to help both partner forces, during his visit on Sept. 22 and 23, to the West African States of Togo and Benin republic.

According to the U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs, Gen. Townsend expressed the command’s readiness to help both partner nations increase their ability to secure their northern border areas from terrorist threats and improve security cooperation across the region.

During his visit to Togo, Gen. Townsend, and the U.S. Ambassador Eric Stromayer, were reported to have met with the country’s President Faure Gnassingbe, Minister of Armed Forces Essozimna Marguerite Gnakade, Chief of Defense Staff General Dadja Maganawe, and other security officials.

Townsend was quoted saying “I commend Togo’s contributions to regional and maritime security through their peacekeeping deployments, active participation in naval exercises like Obangame Express, and other cooperative efforts. U.S. Africa Command looks forward to building upon our partnership through more focused bilateral training and assistance.”

According to AFRICOM Public Affairs, while in Benin Republic, Townsend and the U.S. Ambassador Patricia Mahoney met with President Patrice Talon, where he stressed that greater safety and security in northern Benin will benefit both Beninese citizens and broader regional security efforts.

He was quoted to have said that “Our coastal West African partners share many security threats”. “Effectively countering those threats requires a cooperative regional approach. Like all of our security partners in West Africa, Benin has an important role. We continue to work with Benin and other partners to build capacity and improve interoperability.”

AFRICOM Gen Stephen Townsend, commander meets with Air Vice Marshall Frank Hanson, Chief of Air Staff of the Ghana Air Force, and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan after arriving in Ghana. Photo by: U.S. Embassy in Ghana

The AFRICOM commander, during his earlier tour visited Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire on Sept 20 and 21 and met with government officials and senior military representatives on cross-border cooperation to improve and maintain security across the region.

Townsend stated that “the visits to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have been very productive.” He added that “I was able to meet with senior African leaders to talk about the importance of continuing our regional approach to addressing security issues and how we at U.S. Africa Command can help.”

In February, Townsend wrapped up his trip to West Africa with a stop in Nigeria to further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the US and Nigeria.

During the visit, Townsend was reported to have met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue in 2020.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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