Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara
Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) is the name of the military operation conducted by the United States and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa, consisting of counterterrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across central Africa. It is part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The other OEF mission in Africa is Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF - HOA).
The Congress approved $500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against alleged threats of al-Qaeda operating in African countries, primarily Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco. This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which concluded in December 2004 and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism. TSCTI has both military and non-military components to it. OEF-TS is the military component of the program. Civil affairs elements include USAID educational efforts, airport security, Department of the Treasury, and State Department efforts.
Canada deployed teams of less than 15 CSOR members to Mali throughout 2011 to help combat militants in the Sahara. Although the special forces will not engage in combat, they will train the Malian military in basic soldiering. Areas include communications, planning, first aid, and providing aid to the general populace.
Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara is primarily a training mission meant to equip 10 nations to combat insurgents in the region. Africa Command states:
OEF-TS is the USG’s 3rd priority counter terror effort conducting activities that support TSCTP but are not exclusive to TSCTP. OEF-TS supports TSCTP by forming relationships of peace, security, and cooperation among all Trans Sahara Nations. OEF-TS fosters collaboration and communication among participating countries. Furthermore, OEF-TS strengthens counterterrorism and border security, promotes democratic governance, reinforces bilateral military ties, and enhances development and institution building. U.S. Africa Command, through OEF-TS, provides training, equipment, assistance and advice to partner nation armed forces. This increases their capacity and capability to deny safe haven to terrorists and ultimately defeat extremist and terrorist activities in the region.
Twice a year, the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program holds a multinational training exercise. Called Flintlocks, these exercises are meant to strengthen special forces from the United States as well as multiple other nations. Participants include troops from the Sahel and those from NATO members. Flintlock started in 1988 and continued through Operation Enduring Freedom, and is now held in Africa. The exercises teach medical operations, infantry and peacekeeping training, airborne operations, humanitarian relief, and leadership skills. The amount each category is stressed depends on the host nation's needs. In addition, participants are put through different scenarios involving skills instructed during the exercise.
The Atlas Accord
Although the Flintlock Exercise was postponed, another training program in Mali was not. The Atlas Accord was created in 2012 to train African military personnel in a number of skills while focusing on logistics. The exercise includes classroom instruction and field instruction. Atlas Accord 12 focused solely on logistics and aerial resupply, while the next exercise in 2013 will continue training in aerial logistics but will also include command, control, communications, and computer (C4) techniques.
African Lion exercise
The largest training exercise, African Lion, is an annual security cooperation exercise held by the US and Morocco. Created in 2008, this program is designed to instruct a variety of skills, including aerial logistics, non-lethal weapons training, combined arms and maneuver exercises. More than 900 Moroccans and 1,200 Americans take part in the two week exercise.
- Tuareg Rebellion (2007–2009)
- Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002–present)
- 2012 Northern Mali conflict
- List of wars 2003-current
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- Official United States Africa Command site
- Maps of Operation Enduring Freedom
- Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative Details of the operation by GlobalSecurity.org