ABUJA, Nigeria – The U.S. Africa Command director of intelligence presided over the graduation of an all-female intelligence course and engaged with Nigerian intelligence officials during a multi-day trip, Dec. 18-21.
“Intelligence is a force multiplier, and this training builds a common foundation to drive regional intelligence capability that is critical to defeat violent extremists,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg during remarks to nearly 20 female graduates. “The network these women have established is critical to their professional development, as well as a support structure as they continue their careers.”
The month-long intermediate intelligence course included West African female intelligence officers, non-commissioned officers, and civilians from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal.
The training was held as the second iteration of a two-part regional all-female intelligence course, with the first taking place in Tunisia in October. The course is designed to build a cadre of intelligence professionals using a common framework and terminology to enable multinational coordination in shared missions.
“Here we asked them to dig more in-depth to develop their analytical skills to take back to their units and be able to assist in any operations that they are a part of,” said Brian Adiele, one-of-two U.S. Africa Command instructors for the course. “It goes hand-in-hand with the things that AFRICOM pushes as it relates to having people who can perform combined operations in the military.
“We like to have functional partners in any operation we have.”
“It helps us as intelligence officers to analyze information and prepare better intelligence,” said one unidentified student from the class. “It’s good to have good information, the right information, to do the right planning. Because if you give false or wrong analysis it can lead to false planning, which leads to the defeat of an operation.”
The course being designed specifically for women meets an important need for Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, AFRICOM, who sees increasing the role of women in African militaries and police forces as vitally important to build more effective national security institutions and UN peacekeeping forces. In his first week in command, Townsend discussed the importance of promoting the UN Resolution on Women’s Peace and Security and encouraging partner nations to recruit and retain more women in their defense forces.
“I have seen firsthand the role women can play over the last 30 years in war zones from Yugoslavia to Iraq, Afghanistan and now Somalia, the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin,” said Berg. “There are over 500 million women on the continent of Africa whose experiences and perspectives are an underutilized resource within formal security sectors and institutions.”
The effort to bring together women from neighboring countries, giving them the opportunity to interact and build relationships with other professionals, was enabled by the Nigerian efforts in hosting the course.
“We commend our Nigerian partners on the successful completion of the all-female intermediate Intelligence Course,” said Breanna Green, deputy political counselor of the U.S. Mission to Nigeria. “This is yet another sign of Nigeria’s leadership role on the African continent.”
During the visit, Berg also sat down with the Nigerian Defense Intelligence Agency officials with the goal of enhancing U.S. and Nigerian intelligence sharing, as well as building regional intelligence capability.
“I want to thank our Nigerian partners – with whom we share a long-standing and well-established relationship – for stepping-up and hosting this training event,” Berg said. “It is a true testament to Nigeria’s role as a strong leader in Africa, committed to provide security, adhere to the rule of law, provide good governance, and promote economic prosperity.”