EDITOR'S NOTE (from May 30): To clarify, the Security Forces Assistance Brigade referred to by AFRICOM in our press release of May 29, 2020 refers to a small training unit as part of a military assistance program, and in no way implies combat military forces. It is important to understand potential needs and always look for new approaches and ways to partner as part of our ongoing dialogue.
U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, spoke with His Excellency Imed Hazgui, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Tunisia, May 28.
During a telephone call, the leaders discussed upcoming training and exercise opportunities as they reaffirmed the strong American-Tunisian bilateral partnership.
"Tunisia is a prime example of how U.S. support to our African partners aids long-term self-sufficiency, security, and development,” said Townsend. “Our relationship with Tunisia is centered on enhancing our partnership to achieve mutual security goals."
Tunisia recently completed its second round of free presidential election after its 2011 revolution, showing continued commitment to democratic ideals. Tunisians continue to prioritize and invest in their security complementing U.S. security cooperation investments with national funds.
Since 2011, the U.S. has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military. Mutual efforts have enhanced Tunisian border security, military intelligence, and air-ground operations.
“We know many of our African partners are under siege from malign actors and terrorist networks,” said Townsend. “We also know we can’t surge trust. Therefore, we remain committed to strengthening critical partnerships and working together to deliver solutions to common challenges.”
Townsend and Hazgui also discussed the importance of improved security in North Africa. With the ongoing violence in Libya and the need to ensure broader regional security, Townsend is looking at various capabilities and U.S. strengths that further partnership and enhance regional security and stability.
“As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern,” said Townsend. “We’re looking at new ways to address mutual security concerns with Tunisia, including the use of our Security Force Assistant Brigade. Tunisia recognizes the benefits of American values, professionalism, and commitment. They very much value our partnership.”
The U.S. and Tunisia have a shared history of working together on training exercises and professional military education opportunities. One recent example is the month-long training course co-hosted last fall for female intelligence officers in Northwest Africa. In addition, earlier this spring a senior U.S. interagency delegation attended the inaugural Tunisia International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, another sign of the expanding relationship between the U.S. and Tunisia.