U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, director of intelligence, U.S. Africa Command, concluded a multiday visit to Senegal and Mali, highlighting U.S. Africa Command’s continued support to African and French partners and their efforts to enhance security in the Sahel.
“Enhancing security in Africa requires teamwork and in-depth collaboration across intelligence and operations with our partners,” said Berg. “Violent extremist organizations act without regard to borders. Effective operations to contain and degrade terrorism require strong international partnerships.”
During the trip, Berg met with U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Tulinabo Mushingi, who praised the collaborative relationship among the militaries and highlighted their roles in ensuring regional stability.
“Senegal is committed to enhancing security in the region. We work closely with our partners to bolster peacekeeping initiatives, security efforts, training, and front-line deployments with MINUSMA to combat VEOs and encourage regional stability,” said Berg.
While in Dakar, Senegal, Berg also met with members of the Éléments Français au Sénégal (EFS), French Armed Forces in Senegal, and Col. Jean Dieme, Senegalese director of military intelligence, to reinforce the importance of U.S. Africa Command’s bilateral partnership in Senegal and multinational support to countering violent extremism in the region.
Berg spent two days in the French Desert Operational Platform, Gao, Mali, where she engaged with French partners and received numerous briefings to observe first-hand the capabilities of French partners in enhancing regional security. Briefings focused on counter-IED efforts in the area, demonstrated the value of intelligence sharing, and highlighted the French aviation unit.
West Africa continues to counter violent extremist organizations; top threats include Jama’at Nusr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, and Boko Haram. Recently, U.S. Africa Command conducted a series of exercises to test the ability of U.S. forces to deploy and operate at various locations on short notice.
“We continue to demonstrate our support and partnership in the Sahel to both our African and European partners in the fight against violent extremism. Our collective security cooperation and intelligence sharing with the French help degrade VEO threats and advance security in the region,” said Berg.