ABUJA, Nigeria – Senior intelligence officials from Lake Chad Basin countries and organizations, Europe, and the United States met during the Lake Chad Basin Directors of Military Intelligence (DMI) Conference June 19 -20 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The annual conference, sponsored by the AFRICOM J2 (Intelligence) Directorate was hosted by the Nigeria Defense Intelligence Agency , is designed to promote coordination and integration of the intelligence activities of the Lake Chad Basin countries, said U.S. Army Col. Jonathan Muenchow, chief, AFRICOM J29.
“Our goal is to provide a forum for discussion for a wide variety of security issues and mutual concerns, he said. “Our discussions will promote strong partnerships and continue to strengthen regional efforts to counter the pervasive threats across the region.”
During the conference, the threat of violent extremism in the region was a prevalent topic.
“The countries and organizations represented here are important partners in the fight against violent extremism,” said Rear Adm. Trey Whitworth, AFRICOM Director of Intelligence. “These groups operate across borders and a regional approach is necessary to combat the threat of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa.”
Sharing information and leveraging other nations’ capabilities is important in the fight against violent extremism, said Capt. Ousmanou Mbouombouo, Cameroonian Director of Military Intelligence.
“This event brings together experts from different partner countries to assess and evaluate the threats in the Lake Chad Basin environment and discuss issues that allow peace and security to come back by driving terrorism out,” he said. “What we lack are used by others and we can implement and share information and technology.”
Discussions during the first day of the conference were designed to identify capability gaps and the second was focused on discussing ways to fill those gaps, Whitworth said.
For Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) commander, Nigerian Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, identifying and filling these gaps makes all the difference in the fight against Boko Haram.
Leveraging and improving each country’s capabilities within the MNJTF, which consists of Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, contributes in the steady fight against Boko Haram, he said. “We are making progress but this conference helps us run faster.”
Fostering relationships among member countries of the MNJTF is essential in its success.
“As with all multinational structures, the communication among participating nations is vital to effective operations and this is especially true in the intelligence community,” said PJ Evans, AFRICOM J29 Nigeria desk officer. “Our goal is to strengthen the relationship among the partner nations and our allies and ultimately create a solid and lasting partnership in support of African-led missions.”