U.S. Africa Command’s Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Smith, traveled to Spain Feb. 15-17 to discuss deepening collaboration and efforts within Africa with senior Spanish defense officials.
During the three-day visit, Smith also met with members of the U.S. country team at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.
“Spain is one of our key NATO allies and shares a similar commitment to peace and stability in Africa,” Smith said. “We appreciate Spain hosting U.S. troops for more than 70 years in Rota and Moron. These remain cornerstone locations for our mutual and collective defense relations.”
While there, Smith met with Spain’s Director for Defence Policy, Ms. Elena Gomez Castro. During discussion, both sides expressed commitment to enhancing cooperation, promoting areas of mutual interest, and countering malign actors destabilizing Africa.
“No single nation can confront today’s challenges alone. As the world’s security environment continues to shift and malign actors expand their areas of operation, we rely more and more on our relationships with allies for regional leadership, interoperability, and collaboration,” said Smith.
Smith also visited the Spanish Joint Operations Command and its Commander, Spanish Air Force Lt. Gen. Francisco Braco.
The U.S. and Spain participate in a number of security cooperation programs across Africa, and both countries have been working to help stem instability on the continent with on-going cooperative efforts in the North Africa and Sahel regions.
“Africa is important. There is much we can do to help build regional security in Africa which provides greater stability,” Braco said. “Addressing the regional security issues cooperatively, through an international and multi-agency approach, is necessary to ensure continued progress.”
Spain contributes to multilateral operations within the Sahel region and beyond, exemplifying the international approach that is critical to addressing shared security concerns. Spain’s contributions include European Union Training Missions in Africa and Operation ATALANTA in the Indian Ocean.
Spain also participates in several of U.S. Africa Command’s exercises across the continent, including Exercise African Lion, Obangame Express, Flintlock, and Phoenix Express.
“Spain is a strong ally and a key partner in many areas. We look forward to continuing our cooperative relationship in Africa,” Smith said.