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TerrorismTerrorist groups pose a challenge across Africa: AFRICOM commander

Published 8 June 2017

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is maintaining a consistent presence across Africa in order to address security concerns. But terrorist groups continue to pose a threat in many countries with weak governance. “One of the key parts of what we try to do at AFRICOM is to develop the capacity and capability of African partner nations which will allow them to take on these problems themselves – in other words Africans solving African problems,: says AFRICOM commander.

AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser was in Brussels to meet with the European Union (EU) Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) and discuss the current state of affairs in a number of African countries. Several terrorist groups, including Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab have been operating in many regions, although each has suffered setbacks in the past few months.

DW spokewith General Waldhauser about AFRICOM’s role in Africa and the present security situation. U.S. Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser is the fourth commander of AFRICOM.

DW:Overall, is AFRICOM and its partner governments experiencing success in pushing back terrorist groups such as IS, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab?

General Waldhauser:One of the key parts of what we try to do at AFRICOM is to develop the capacity and capability of African partner nations which will allow them to take on these problems themselves – in other words Africans solving African problems. So in places like Somalia we train and advise the military so that they are able to take on these threats themselves.

DW: We know about the pushback efforts against IS but how much of a presence do they have across Africa at the moment?

Waldhauser: IS is present across the continent in various degrees. If you take Libya for example there was a significant presence in Sirte six to eight months ago. In fact they owned the city for quite some time. But since we struck IS in the desert again in the middle in Januarythe numbers are now small. They do not own any major territory but they continue to be an issue for us. We also continue to watch other parts of the continent, whether it’s IS in West Africa or in the Lake Chad Basin region. But our role there is to provide training for the Lake Chad Basin region countries to take on that problem themselves. So IS is in various locations across the continent. We continue to watch them while keeping in mind that the core threat is in Iraq and Syria. We also take the opportunity to build relationships with our partner nations to take on those targets.