Commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), Stephen Townsend said he’s not personally satisfied with our progress against violent extremists in Africa.
Stephen Townsend Speaks On Extremism In Africa
Townsend stated this while speaking on the success of the command under his leadership at a virtual press briefing on the sidelines of the 2022 African Chiefs of Defence Conference on Thursday.
According to him, he is not satisfied with the progress recorded by AFRICOM, established by the United States in 2007 to improve security in African countries.
The commander noted that while some level of progress has been recorded in North Africa, attacks by extremists have continued to expand in East and West Africa.
He said, “This is something actually I’ve been pondering a lot here as I have entered my last year in this position, and I think the bottom line up front, candidly, I’m personally not satisfied with our progress against violent extremists in Africa, and particularly East Africa and West Africa.
“I assess that violent extremism in those two regions continues to expand in both geography and reach and influence.
“I think that in the north of Africa, violent extremism is in a better place and we have seen progress from both our U.S. efforts as well as our partners’ efforts. And then in the southern part of Africa, we’ve seen the emergence of ISIS-Central Africa and ISIS-Mozambique, which is of concern and we’re seeing a very aggressive response by African partners there and a deployment led by forces from Central and South Africa to go after ISIS-Mozambique.
“However, I’m still concerned about the forces, the violent extremist organisations in East Africa and West Africa.”
The commander further said military forces alone cannot defeat violent extremism, adding that AFRICOM uses a 3D approach — diplomacy, development, defence — to tackle the problem.
He added that the challenges encountered on the continent will not be surmountable except countries work together, with African partners taking the lead.
Townsend said, “I think the key to this is that military forces alone cannot defeat violent extremism. The root of violent extremism is insufficient with poor governance. And so, because of that, we have to have a whole-of-government approach, and at AFRICOM we say that we like to use a 3D approach, where we lead with diplomacy and development and follow with defence efforts.
“So, that 3D approach is what we need to address the problem of violent extremism.
“So, as long as we don’t have a coherent 3D approach from not just African partners but all of the international partners, to include the U.S., I think the terrorists will continue to take advantage of that and continue their expansion.
“So, to sum it up, I’m not satisfied with our progress and I think there is work to be done.
“Many of the challenges that I discussed today will only be solved if multiple countries work together and we have a consistent, open dialogue and we have whole-of-government approaches with our African partners in the lead.”
KanyiDaily recalls that in April 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the US to consider relocating the AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa.
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