U.S. pledges equipment, intelligence in fight against Boko Haram

Posted by News Express | 18 February 2015 | 3,000 times

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The United States military will provide communications equipment and intelligence to help African nations in the fight against Islamist group Boko Haram, the Commander of U.S. Special Forces Operations in Africa, said.

Maj. Gen. James Linder said as part of the annual U.S.-backed ‘Flintlock’ counter-terrorism exercises this year in Chad, the United States would provide technology allowing African partners to communicate between cell phones, radios and computers.

“The system also incorporates a translation function that would allow commanders in francophone countries like Chad to communicate by message with English-speaking officers in Nigeria.”

Boko Haram killed an estimated 10,000 people last year in its campaign to carve an Islamist emirate from northern Nigeria.

The four nations of the Lake Chad region – Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria – plus neighboring Benin are preparing a joint task-force of 8,700 men to take on the Sunni jihadist group.

Chad’s military, which played a leading role in a French-led campaign that ousted Islamist groups from northern Mali in 2013, has already led attacks against Boko Haram positions in Nigeria’s border regions.

Linder said in an interview late on Monday: “The Lake Chad nations are battling Boko Haram and we have a vested interest in that group of nations’ collective success.

“What Boko Harm is doing is a murderous rampage, about brutality, intolerance and subjugation.

“There is discussion on how will we provide additional tools, techniques, and material to partner with nations.”

At the Flintlock exercises, the U.S. military will also introduce a Cloud-based technology to allow African allies to quickly share intelligence, such as mapping information the location of potential targets, Linder said.

The ninth edition of Flintlock, grouping 1,300 soldiers from 28 African and Western nations, will emphasise the importance of troops fostering strong relations with local communities to gain intelligence on insurgent groups.

Linder said African armies were well-placed to gather this kind of information, but that the United States could share other kinds of intelligence to boost the success of operations against Boko Haram.

 “It’s the things that we find from flying over a target and having a full motion video, or being able to take pictures. It also includes being able to do a different type of geo-spatial analysis or predictive analysis on the enemy,” he said.

According to him, Washington’s long-term goal is to enable African nations to be sufficiently trained and equipped to face their own security challenges, stressing that by 2050, one-third of the global population will be on the African continent.

Linder added that the global economy/ community need stable countries in Africa and that can only happen through African nation states themselves.

 West African military commanders have long complained that cross-border operations against Islamist groups had been obstructed by lack of compatible communications equipment.

The groups include the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

From Reuters/NAN

*Photo shows US flag

Source: News Express

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