Nigeria must lead, provide focus for war against terror – Commander, US Africa Command


Nigerian Government must lead the efforts and provide focus in the war against violent extremist terror organisations, Maj.-Gen. Dagvin Anderson, Commander, United States Special Operations Command Africa in Stuttgart said in a digital briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

Anderson, who spoke about U.S. partnerships with African nations to reduce extremism and combat terrorist organisations said for support of other countries to be fruitful in the war against terror groups, the Government of Nigeria must lead and build energy that other partners will to coalesce around.

“So, no nation can come in and fix that problem for Nigeria.  We can assist with that – and it’s the United States can assist, the United Kingdom, other countries can come in, many countries can come and assist with that partnership – but ultimately it takes leadership from Nigeria in order for us to focus our efforts.  We need to understand where Nigeria wants to focus those efforts so we can partner appropriately to have the best effect,” Anderson said in the transcript of the engagement with journalists as published by The Nation newspaper.

On the US partnership with Nigeria on the war on terror, Anderson said, “We have partnered with great effect with Nigeria in counterterrorism in the past.  We’ve had good engagements with their air force in particular and providing C-208 capability, which is a light, fixed-wing ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) platform, very capable, and we’ve had good engagement.

“We’ve had good engagements with their air force in integrating their air force with their ground forces in order to make their air force more effective.  Nigeria is a large country, it’s got a lot of territory to cover, and so it’s critical that they have that air component and that air engagement.  So we have had positive engagements there.

“Recently, the Nigerian coast guard went out and rescued some Chinese fishermen that were adrift out off their coast.  That was a combination of engagement from the U.S., where the U.S. had engaged with their maritime forces and helped build their maritime awareness along their coast.

“And that was in partnership with their neighbours in Togo and Benin as well, who helped with that whole operation to understand the intelligence that led them to where these fishermen were, but then it was the unit that went out and did that was a Nigerian special operations unit that our Navy SEALs had trained a few years previously.

So sometimes it’s not the immediate effect, it’s the effect that happens two or three years later as you combine these engagements that have a greater effect later on.

“I know that’s just one small example and it’s not directly against terrorism, but being able to engage in that maritime domain and to be able to understand what’s going on out there is critical, and that has been an engagement the United States has had over several years with Nigeria and those other coastal states in both the naval and the special operations forces.

“More directly to his point, we have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing, and that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno State and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in.
“So this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the Government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas,” he said.