The United States military will provide communications equipment and intelligence to help African nations in the fight against Islamist group Boko Haram, the Commander of U.S. Special Forces Operations in Africa, James Linder said.
The aid is part of the annual U.S.-backed ‘Flintlock’ counter-terrorism exercises. The U.S will provide technology allowing African partners to communicate between cell phones, radios and computers.
The system also incorporates a translation function that will allow commanders in francophone countries like Chad to communicate by message with English-speaking officers in Nigeria.
The four nations of the Lake Chad region—Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria—plus neighboring Benin are preparing a joint task-force of 8,700 men to take on the Sunni jihadist group.
Chad’s military, which played a leading role in a French-led campaign that ousted Islamist groups from northern Mali in 2013, has already led attacks against Boko Haram positions in Nigeria’s border regions.
“The Lake Chad nations are battling Boko Haram and we have a vested interest in that group of nations’ collective success.
What Boko Harm is doing is a murderous rampage, about brutality, intolerance and subjugation.
There is discussion on how will we provide additional tools, techniques, and material to partner with nations”, Linder said.
At the Flintlock exercises, the U.S. military will also introduce a Cloud-based technology to allow African allies
to quickly share intelligence, such as mapping information on the location of potential targets.
The ninth edition of Flintlock, grouping 1,300 soldiers from 28 African and Western nations, will emphasise the importance of troops fostering strong relations with local communities to gain intelligence on insurgent groups.
Linder said African armies were well-placed to gather this kind of information, but that the United States could share other kinds of intelligence to boost the success of operations against Boko Haram.
“It’s the things that we find from flying over a target and having a full motion video, or being able to take pictures.
It also includes being able to do a different type of geo-spatial analysis or predictive analysis on the enemy”, he said.
Washington’s long-term goal is to enable African nations to be sufficiently trained and equipped to face their own security challenges.
By 2050, one-third of the global population will be on the African continent,” he said.
He added that the global economy/community needs stable countries in Africa and that can only happen through African nations themselves.
West African military commanders have long complained that cross-border operations against Islamist groups had been obstructed by lack of compatible communications equipment.