PARIS – U.S. Africa Command leaders visited with French Chief of the Defense Staff, General Francois Lecointre, and other French senior officials to discuss continued U.S.-French cooperation in Africa.
“France is the United States’ oldest ally, and a leader in the counterterrorism fight in Africa,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, U.S. Africa Command commander. “We share common threats, mutual concerns, and a commitment to fighting violent extremist organizations.”
Topics discussed included U.S. and French postures and priorities on the continent, as well as possibilities for Franco-American cooperation beyond the current partnership to fight violent extremist organizations in West Africa.
U.S. Africa Command leaders recognized the successful French-led raid that killed one of one of al-Qaida’s top commanders, Abdelmalek Droukdal, in June. U.S. intelligence collection helped facilitate the mission, which targeted the head of al-Qaida in the Magreb. The U.S. currently provides intelligence-sharing, logistics, aerial refueling, and training in West Africa.
“What’s going on in West Africa affects Africa, it affects Europe, and it affects America,” said Townsend. “Continued French leadership and increased support from their European neighbors is key to helping the Africans change the trajectory and prevent the spread of violence in West Africa."
The U.S. delegation expressed condolences on recent French losses in the Sahel, to include recent deaths of French soldiers from Operation Barkhane.
The leaders also discussed global power competition in Africa and the growing activity of China and Russia on the continent.