U.S. Sailors and Marines assigned to Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, Europe (FASTEUR), a part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Force Europe-Africa/Task Force (CTF) 68, stationed in Rota, Spain, traveled to Timbuktu, Mali, on April 16, 2021. The U.S. unit worked with French Operation Barkhane forces during the exercise. This latest trip to Timbuktu tested the command’s ability to rapidly move troops from Europe into West Africa.
“Our Joint Response Force FAST deployment demonstrates our steadfast commitment to partner and support security in Western Africa,” said CTF 68 Commodore, Capt. Cameron Chen. “Our integrated Naval Expeditionary Force from CTF 68 is ready to rapidly deploy combat power in the form of Marines and Sailors to clear, secure, build, and protect throughout Africa.”
U.S. Africa Command has conducted a number of exercises in West Africa this spring. The first two exercises were completed by troops stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, and tested the command’s ability to move troops quickly across the continent from east to west in support of partners throughout the region. On a recent exercise in Gao on March 30, U.S. officers met with the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) Theater Commander and Military Region Commander to better understand the challenges faced by the FAMa and reiterated the U.S. commitment to working together to combat terrorism and partner to bring stability to Mali.
FAST provides security to vital naval and national assets by conducting rapid response expeditionary antiterrorism and security operations for the African and European area of responsibility. CTF 68 provides explosive ordnance disposal operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.
The exercise detachment consisted of FAST Marines, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 8, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, and other supporting capabilities from various Naval and Marine units.
This exercise helped the FAST test and improve its readiness, and further symbolized the U.S. commitment to security in the region as the U.S. continues to partner with G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger), French forces, and other international partners to fight against violent extremism across the Sahel.