Commander of United States (US) Special Operations Command in Africa, (SOCAF) Major General Dagvin R.M. Anderson, has warned that there is no military solution to terrorism and violent extremism but a coordinated partnership to build capacity of African countries and assist them to implement other counter- terrorism measures can reduce the scourge.
Anderson said this on Tuesday while making his remarks during a digital press briefing organized by the US for journalists across Africa on the US special operations in the continent during COVID, which include; assessments of violent extremism across the continent, and US military view of opportunities and threats.
He added that partnerships with African nations were to reduce extremism, combat terrorist organizations, and bring about peace and prosperity throughout the continent during the Covid-19. He noted that relationships and working with partners have become even more critical.
“On counter terrorism efforts in Africa, there is no military solution to these problems, but militaries have a role to play. We invest in people not just hardware.
“We need to be looking at these third and fourth order effects that extremists prey on. The military is similar to the fireman. The military is there to help but if you are not ringing the bell it is already too late,” the US commander said.
He added that since the outbreak of Covid -19 pandemic there has not been a change in US posture on the continent, adding that the US We will continue to assist and train its African partners that are fighting violent extremism.
“It is not only what we can do, it is also about what our partners are willing to do. We need to engage with our partners and we need to build on capacity. Sometimes we engage through training, sometimes it is through development and sometimes it is through law enforcement,” he said.
To combat Covid-19, the commander said, “Our response will be multifaceted. We remain involved with our partners; we remain focused on violent extremists’ organizations and on combating terrorism. Our primary focus is on our international partners and we will remain engaged.”
On private military contractors, Anderson warned that countries should be careful about these actors, even as he advised them to consider what baggage they will bring and what corrosive effect they may bring.
He also warned that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is involved with ISIS in Mozambique, influencing terrorist activities there and threatening the African continent more even as he called for unity of purpose.
He said, “When we come together as international partners and organizations, we can give people hope. We use innovation to come together and solve problems. There are plenty of opportunities in Africa despite the threats that we have seen. We have had continued engagement to try and harness opportunities for Africa’s youth.”
Special Operations Command Africa primarily works with African special operations forces providing training, mentorship, and assistance that helps develop partner nation capabilities to defeat violent extremism. One of the US special operations truths is that people are more important than hardware. Accordingly, SOCAF engagements and partnerships with African militaries are the cornerstone of their mission.