Combating terrorism and illicit trafficking were the focus of an international audience who gathered recently in Cameroon.
The U.S. Africa Center for Stratetic Studies (ACSS) co-hosted a symposium on regional counter-terrorism cooperation and the fight against illicit trafficking in Yaoundé on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, in partnership with the ACSS Community Chapter in Cameroon and the U.S. Embassy.
The event took place at the Yaoundé International War College (Ecole supérieure internationale de guerre de Yaoundé [ESIG]). The more than 100 participants included Africa Center community members from the Cameroon Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the University of Yaoundé.
Also in the attendance was a diverse international group of 42 ESIG students representing nearly 20 nationalities, including the United States, who are currently in the midst of a 10-month study program at ESIG. Another group of 12 students from the National School of Security Forces (Ecole nationale de forces de sécurité [ENFS]) attended as well.
Presentations focused on defining and improving regional cooperation in countering terrorism and the threats associated with illicit trafficking.
In his opening remarks, ESIG Commandant Major General Esaïe Ngambou expressed his satisfaction with the selection of topics. “The Africa Center chose two challenging issues that are at the heart of our current preoccupations: regional cooperation against terrorism and illicit trafficking.” He also mentioned that this year’s annual ESIG colloquium will focus on border security, making the symposium a fitting beginning to the colloquium’s preparations.
Colonel Gabriel Metogo Atangana, the ACSS Chapter President, explained the pertinence of the topics discussed, at a time when Cameroon faces the challenges of Boko Haram’s spillover in the northern part of the country.
“ACSS has maintained for nearly 10 years now a close cooperation with the armed forces and law enforcement forces of Cameroon,” he said. “The choice of today’s topics is explained by the magnitude and damaging effects, as well as the consequences in the communities which are affected by these threats,” he noted.
Mr. John Harney, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Project Manager at the J5 Counter-narcotics and Law Enforcement Division, provided an overview of illicit trafficking and laid out how AFRICOM deals with the issue. He also pointed out interagency efforts to harmonize the U.S. government effort in building West African capacities to combat transnational organized crime, particularly narcotic trafficking.
“It takes a network to defeat a network,” Mr. Harney noted, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in defeating international illicit trafficking networks.
The consensus following the symposium was that Cameroonians’ challenges are global challenges. As a result, it will take an all-inclusive effort—for the U.S. and African partners—to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development. Participants also agreed that deeper regional cooperation and international cooperation are keys to success.