Posts Tagged 'Senegal'

10 Things about Western Accord

During June 26 to July 24, 2012, more than 1,200 military service men and women are participating in Western Accord, an inaugural exercise in Thiés, Senegal, designed to improve peacekeeping capabilities and proficiencies. Participating nations this year include Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, The Gambia and France, along with another 600 military personnel from the United States. Below are ten facts regarding the exercise.

1.  Exercise Western Accord 2012 is a multi-lateral training exercise with West African nations to increase understanding and interoperability, prevent conflict by enabling Africans to provide for their security and stability, strengthen relationships with partner nations, and promote and support U.S. national security priorities.  Task Force Commander, Colonel Anthony Fernandez, III said, “Our combined efforts and shared purpose will not only pave the way for future regional exercises but also forge a personal bond amongst our warriors.”

2.  Western Accord 2012 is led by U.S. Marine Forces Africa and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.

3.  The exercise includes: live-fire and combat marksmanship training, peacekeeping operations, disaster response, and intelligence capacity building.

4. Concurrent with the exercise, U.S.military professionals from the Vermont Army National Guard, along with a Senegalese Medical Detachment, will provide medical assistance to the local residents in and around the communities of Dakar and Thiés.

5.  The U.S. and African medical and dental staffs  treated nearly 1,800 patients in Senegal during Western Accord 2012.  “It’s a great opportunity,” said Air Force Captain Jason Galipeau, the project officer with the 158th Fighter Wing located in South Burlington, Virginia. “It feels great. It is something that will stick with [the service members] through their whole career.”

6.  Participating U.S. forces include Marines from the 3rd Battalion and 25th Marine Regiment, who will be making up the primary element of the task force, along with reservists from all across the U.S. to include the 4th Medical Battalion, Vermont Army National Guard, and Marine Wing Support Squadron 473.  “It’s been a really great experience being able to share and work with our African partners.  I think it’s important for us to be on the same level of training as much as we can be,” said Lance Corporal Ryan M. Logan, an assistant gunner, Lima Company, 3/25.

7.  One theme of the exercise is listening to the perspectives of African leaders and citizens.  This enables participants to understand the challenges Africans face, to conduct programs in response to their requests, and to ensure their security needs are being met.

8.  Western Accord is designed to provide combined arms training for ground combat elements while simultaneously providing humanitarian assistance to local residents.

9. As part of Western Accord 2012, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment will be spending time with joint forces from the various West African nations to train and exchange their shared experiences of non-lethal weapons and crowd-control tactics.  “First thing we did was find out what kind of experiences they had because it’s a possibility they have more real-world experience in these kinds of scenarios than us.  We also want to know what they can teach us,” said Sergeant Jonah L. Saylers, an instructor for non-lethal weapons and crowd control techniques from Lima Company, 3/25.

10.  Distinguished visitors of Western Accord 2012 included: General Carter F. Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Jones, U.S. Defense Attaché to Senegal; Colonel Douglas Fairfeld, chief of staff for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa; The Honorable Robert Yamate, Charge d’Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar; Brigadier General Richard N. Harris Jr., chief of joint staff of the Vermont Air National Guard; Admiral Ousmane, Ibrahima Sall, deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Senegal; Brigadier General Pape Samba Kamara, chief of the Senegalese army; Brigadier General Gregoire Saint-Quentin, commander, French Elements in Senegal; Colonel Vinta Some, Burkina Faso Contingent commander, ECOWAS Standby Force; Abdoulie Kah, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defense, Gambia; Brigadier General Namory Traore, deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Guinea.

Africa Snapshot: Senegal

Senegal is this year’s host of Western Accord, an annual exercise designed to improve cooperation and connection among West African nations. More than 600 people are participating from the Armed Forces of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, The Gambia and France, along with another 600 military personnel from the United States. The exercise runs from June 26 to July 24, 2012.

Population:About 13 million people live in Senegal, as of 2011. The median age is 18 years old.

Flag of Senegal (CIA Factbook)

Languages: French is the official language. Other languages spoken include Wolof, Pulaar, Serer, Diola, Mandingo, Soninke.

Religion: The Senegalese population is 94% Muslim, 5% Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) and 1% indigenous beliefs, according to the CIA Factbook.

 History: Based on archaeological findings, Senegal was inhabited during the prehistoric era. Islam came to the Senegal River valley in the 11th century. A few hundred years later, the Jolof Empire of Senegal was founded.

Senegal is home to the first French settlement in West Africa, Saint-Louis. In 1959, Senegal and the French Soudan formed the Mali Federation. That federation celebrated independence from France on April 4, 1960. Senegal split from Soudan (later Mali) in 1960, when its first president was elected.

In 1982, Senegal joined with The Gambia to create Senegambia, a union that fell apart in 1989. A Socialist party ruled Senegal for four decades until 2000, when Abdoulaye Wade was elected president. He ruled until 2012, when Macky Sall defeated him in a spring runoff election. He is serving a 7-year term and is eligible for a second term.

Map of Senegal (CIA Factbook)

The White House released a statement after the runoff, which included: “Senegal has, through this election, reaffirmed its tradition as a leading example of good governance and democracy at work in Africa and remains an example for its neighbors. The government and people of Senegal have once again demonstrated their commitment to political expression through peaceful, democratic elections, making it harder for non-democratic forces near and far to prevail.”

Economy: Its natural resources include fish, phosphates, iron ore. Donor assistance remains a major contributor to the economy.

Geography: Senegal is located the farthest west of any country on the continent. Located on the North Atlantic Ocean, Senegal has a sliver carved out of it around the Gambia River, which is The Gambia. Its other neighbors are Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali and Mauritania.

Relations with the United States: America has a very good relationship with Senegal. The government often has supported the United States in the United Nations, including supporting peacekeeping efforts through Senegalese troops. The United States also provides economic and technical assistance.

 “Since its independence, Senegal has been one of America’s strongest and most consistent friends in francophone West Africa,” Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said in a statement in February 2012.

Fun Fact: The lion is the national symbol of Senegal.

National pride: The national anthem is “Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons,” which means “Pluck your koras, strike the balafons.” Koras are stringed instruments; balafons are a type of xylophone. Listen to the anthem here by going to the national anthem section.

Sources: CIA World FactbookState DepartmentLonely Planet; U.S. Embassy Senegal

Results: Your favorite AFRICOM-related photo of March

Thanks to everyone who voted on their favorite AFRICOM-related photo in March. View the five contenders here, which represent a variety of efforts the U.S. is engaged in Africa, including well development, relationship building with our partner nations, theater security cooperation and maritime security operations.

The results are in, and the winner is …

… this well-drilling photo by Master Sgt. Hector Garcia of the U.S. Army 257th Engineer Team in Djibouti

U.S. Army Sgt. Clayburn Johnson (left) and Spc. Michael Knee (right), U.S. Army 257th Engineer Team members, observe the well development process of the second of four newly drilled wells just outside Camp Lemonnier here, March 12. This project allowed the team to evaluate the water tables in the aquifer and make plans for camp expansion. The well development project directly supports Camp Lemonnier’s initiative to identify alternative well locations and assist in development of camp infrastructure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Hector Garcia)

Check out more photos by Master Sgt. Garcia in this photo album from the water drilling tests.

“The wells are part of a study to determine if pulling water from a beach aquifer is a viable option for removing Camp Lemonnier from the Djiboutian Fresh Water Aquifer and leaving that resource solely for the Djiboutians,” said U.S. Army Captain Joseph Bzdok, 257th Engineer Team commander. Read the full story here.

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The runner-up for favorite March photo is …

… this United Nations-Armed Forces of Liberia photo by 1st Lt. Mark Lazan

An Armed Forces of Liberia soldier, right, jumps to receive the tip against his Pakistan opponent during a basketball match between the AFL’s Armed Forces Training Center and their United Nations Mission in Liberia counterparts at Camp Sandee Ware, Liberia, March 21. The game was the final event of a three-day sports festival between the two organizations. The AFL team defeated the UNMIL team 19-17, giving them the overall title. The two organizations also played each other in soccer (won by the AFL) and volleyball (won by the Pakistan-based UNMIL squad). (photo by 1st Lt. Mark Lazan)

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Look for another monthly photographic round-up at the end of April. In the meantime, check out many more AFRICOM-related photos on our Flickr photostream.

Vote for your favorite AFRICOM-related photo of March

Here are a few of our favorite photos from March from around U.S. Africa Command, our components and partner organizations and nations.  (You are also welcome to nominate a photo that’s not listed here, as long as it relates to U.S. Africa Command’s mission and the photo was taken in March.)

Which is your favorite and why?

Tell us your vote in the comments section. We’ll announce the winner next Monday.


USS Simpson performs daily operations

Senegal: USS Simpson performs daily operations

DAKAR, Senegal (Mar. 10, 2012) – Ensign Tom Callahan uses a laser rangefinder while standing junior officer of the deck watch aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) as the ship leaves Dakar after refueling. Simpson is conducting theater security cooperation and maritime security operations in the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

Watch a slideshow of more photos from USS Simpson.

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Liberia:

An Armed Forces of Liberia soldier, right, jumps to receive the tip against his Pakistan opponent during a basketball match between the AFL’s Armed Forces Training Center and their United Nations Mission in Liberia counterparts at Camp Sandee Ware, Liberia, March 21. The game was the final event of a three-day sports festival between the two organizations. The AFL team defeated the UNMIL team 19-17, giving them the overall title. The two organizations also played each other in soccer (won by the AFL) and volleyball (won by the Pakistan-based UNMIL squad).

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Djibouti:

U.S. Army Sgt. Clayburn Johnson (left) and Spc. Michael Knee (right), U.S. Army 257th Engineer Team members, observe the well development process of the second of four newly drilled wells just outside Camp Lemonnier here, March 12. This project allowed the team to evaluate the water tables in the aquifer and make plans for camp expansion. The well development project directly supports Camp Lemonnier’s initiative to identify alternative well locations and assist in development of camp infrastructure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Hector Garcia)

View the photo album from the water drilling tests.

“The wells are part of a study to determine if pulling water from a beach aquifer is a viable option for removing Camp Lemonnier from the Djiboutian Fresh Water Aquifer and leaving that resource solely for the Djiboutians,” said U.S. Army Captain Joseph Bzdok, 257th Engineer Team commander. Read the full story here.

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Benin: Daily life at the fish market

Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs, covered the Maritime Safety and Security Conference hosted and facilitated by U.S. AFRICOM and the Africa Center. The seminar brings together nations of West and Central Africa to discuss maritime safety issues, including ways to combat piracy and illicit trafficking. Femi got to visit the fish market during a break. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi)

Read a story about the Maritime Safety and Security Conference  gathering of representatives from Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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Morocco: U.S. Soldiers Observe Training at Moroccan Field Artillery Center

MOROCCO, Mar 26, 2012 — In order to help improve the security of Morocco, 20 members of the 15th Royal Artillery Group purchased approximately 60 armored vehicles called M109A5 howitzers through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

At the request of the Royal Moroccan Field Artillery Training Center, an artillery tactics military-to-military exercise was executed in the cities of Fes and Guercie, March 4-10, 2012 to help provide the Moroccan soldiers with training on the maintenance, safety and firing of the M109A5 system.

Read the story here.

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Vote for the Best AFRICOM Photo of February

Here are a few of our favorite photos from February. Vote for your favorite here or use the survey in the pop-up window!

USS Simpson arrives in Dakar for refueling

Senegal: USS Simpson arrives in Dakar for refueling

120207-N-IZ292-203: DAKAR, Senegal (Feb. 7, 2012) – Electronics Technician 3rd Class Jonathan Salas heaves a mooring line to a tugboat as the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) arrives in Dakar for refueling. Simpson, homeported out of Mayport, Fla., is currently conducting theater security cooperation and maritime security operations in the Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Felicito Rustique/Released)

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Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit trains in Horn of Africa region

Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit trains in Horn of Africa region

Lance Cpl. Scott King takes a break during a patrol Jan. 29. The 19-year-old Riding Sun, Md., native operates an M88A2 recovery vehicle with Combat Logistics Battalion 11. The battalion provides logistics and services for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is currently deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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USS Simpson community service project in Lagos

Nigeria: USS Simpson sailors distribute books as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS)

LAGOS, Nigeria (Feb. 16, 2012) – Musician 3rd Class Andrew Francisco, assigned to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, plays the saxophone for school children from the Tomaro Junior Secondary School, while books were distributed by Sailors from the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2012. APS is an international security cooperation initiative facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Felicito Rustique/Released)

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Serviccemember reenlists underwater

Off Djibouti: Sailor reenlists underwater

GULF OF TADJOURA, Djibouti (Feb. 12, 2012) – U.S. Navy Lieutenant Scott Pennoyer reads (right) U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Geoff Shepelew, both of the 221st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2, the Oath of Enlistment off the coast of Moucha Island, Djibouti, February 12. Shepelew chose to reenlist underwater while during his deployment to the Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Joseph A. Araiza)

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Djibouti: U.S. military checks on wells

ALI ADDE, Djibouti (Feb. 9, 2012) – Villagers demonstrate how to draw water from a community well they dug by hand to U.S. Army Sergeant Major Richard Erickson, U.S. Army 257th Engineer Team here, February 9. The 257th Engineer Team, in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, is visiting Ali Adde to conduct analysis of wells drilled by the U.S. military to assess their performance. Site data will help shape future water well-drilling operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Joseph A. Araiza/Released)

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Mali: Atlas Accord 2012

MOPTI, MALI — A Malian Air Force BT-67 drops helicopter boxes as part of aerial re-supply training during operation Atlas Accord near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

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Which photo is your favorite? Vote here!

Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Travels to Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Cape Verde

 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Cape Verde on January 16-17, 2012, to demonstrate U.S. commitment to post-conflict return to peace, good governance, and economic development as well as to emphasize U.S. focus on democratization.

While in Liberia, Secretary Clinton will attend President Sirleaf’s inauguration and preside over the ribbon-cutting of the New U.S. Embassy Compound in Monrovia. In Cote d’Ivoire, she will meet with President Ouattara to showcase our support for national reconciliation and strengthening democratic institutions following successful legislative elections in December 2011. In the first visit of a Secretary of State to Togo, Secretary Clinton will meet President Faure to demonstrate U.S. support for Togo’s democratic progress and economic reforms and to congratulate Togo on its recent election to the United Nations Security Council, where it holds a non-permanent seat for 2012 and 2013. In Cape Verde, Secretary Clinton will meet Prime Minister Neves to discuss cooperation on regional issues like counternarcotics, good governance, sound economic policies, and Cape Verde’s second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.

This blog can be found at: http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/clinton_liberia_cote_divoire_togo_cape_verde

South Sudan Women Working To Overcome Food Insecurity

Elisabeth Kvitashvili serves as U.S. Alternate Permanent Representative to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Italy and Humanitarian Affairs Counselor, U.S. Agency for International Development.

I have spent a lot of time in many countries in Africa, usually countries suffering from some type of man-made or natural disaster. While no agriculture expert, my eyes are trained enough to seek out and identify problems and solutions that touch on food insecurity. I usually find a somewhat despairing situation.

Recently, after travelling on the bumpy to non-existent “roads” of South Sudan, I came away impressed — impressed with the hopeful vision of a country that has enormous potential to move quickly into a state of relative food self sufficiency, perhaps within less than a generation.

And the women of South Sudan are playing a big part in the country’s drive towards recovery. According to Ofeni Ngota Amitai, the minister of agriculture for Morobo county, women are critical to helping the country move away from humanitarian interventions towards a more balanced foundation of recovery. While on my field visit to the Eastern and Central Equatoria states, I witnessed the collective efforts of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), both of whom receive valuable financial support from USAID, to support the Republic of South Sudan’s endeavors to tackle food insecurity through a wide range of recovery activities.

South Sudan remains a major recipient of food aid, much of it supplied by the U.S. government through the World Food Programme. The food security outlook for 2012 is worrisome for the 1.2 million people of South Sudan, a new country comprised of 10 states, with a wide range of agro-climatic conditions and a population that includes traditional farmers and agro-pastoralists (farmers who also raise livestock).

Livestock is key to the livelihoods of millions of South Sudanese, so keeping animals healthy to ensure availability of meat and milk products but also cash from the sale of cattle is a major concern of local officials with whom I spoke. Unfortunately, disease outbreaks are common and with very limited government capacity to handle such cases, treatment has been hard to come by.

With support from FAO, however, South Sudanese agro-pastoralists are being given initial supplies of vaccines and are being trained to vaccinate livestock. People will pay to have their animals vaccinated, so cost recovery is introduced to ensure vaccinators can replenish their supplies. I watched a group of semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists, including women herders in one cattle camp I visited in Torit, successfully vaccinate over 100 long-horn cattle in just one hour. And as one woman vaccinator walked me through her village, she explained how she was putting her three children through the local school “in town” with the increased income she had from selling healthy cattle.

Elsewhere, in Yei and Morobo in Central Equatoria, women were hand threshing just-harvested sorghum and pearl millet grown from seeds they had received as participants in an FAO-sponsored community-based Seed Production and Supply activity. This activity is implemented by the Kogbo Multipurpose Farmer Group and Equatoria Farmer Extension Advisory Association in collaboration with the Morobo Agriculture Department. Since Yei and Morobo are part of South Sudan’s “green belt,” improved availability and access to quality seeds is key to helping increase local production, thereby reducing dependence on imports from northern Uganda.

Everywhere I went I heard the same refrain from South Sudanese…we want to reduce our reliance on humanitarian assistance as we have the land and ability to produce enough ourselves. Farmers want to move away from subsistence to commercial farming and need assistance in getting increased production to the markets of South Sudan. With support from their partners at FAO and WFP and commitment from their government, the South Sudanese are on a good path, despite the many obstacles, towards their goal of becoming food self-sufficient.

This blog can be found at:  http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/south_sudan_women_food_insecurity


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