US military Africa Command leaders and the French Chief of the Defence Staff, General Francois Lecointre, and other French senior officials are discussing continued US-French cooperation in Africa.
“France is the United States’ oldest ally, and a leader in the counterterrorism fight in Africa,” said US Army General Stephen Townsend, US Africa Command commander. “We share common threats, mutual concerns, and a commitment to fighting violent extremist organisations.”
The military top leaders are discussing the US and French postures and priorities on the continent, as well as possibilities for Franco-American cooperation beyond the current partnership to fight violent extremist organizations in West Africa.
“What’s going on in West Africa affects Africa, it affects Europe, and it affects America,” said Townsend. “Continued French leadership and increased support from their European neighbours is key to helping the Africans change the trajectory and prevent the spread of violence in West Africa.”
The US delegation expressed condolences on recent French losses in the Sahel, to include recent deaths of French soldiers from Operation Barkhane.
The leaders also discussed global power competition in Africa and the growing activity of China and Russia on the continent.
With the recent surprising Russian deployment of at least 14 advanced MiG-29 and Su-24 combat aircraft to wartorn Libya in support of Khalifa Haftar, the United States is considering doing same.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,” said Townsend
The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), is in talks with neighboring Tunisia to bolster ties between the two nations and counter Russia’s moves in the region.
“We know many of our African partners are under siege from malign actors and terrorist networks,” the AFRICOM Commander said
Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, deputy director for intelligence said, “If Russia secures a permanent position in Libya and, worse, deploys long-range missile systems, it will be a game-changer for Europe, NATO and many Western nations.”