Madam Virginia Palmer, the U.S Ambassador to Ghana, says violent extremism thrives when State authorities are absent; delivery of services are weak and when democracy is fragile or fleeting.
She said it also thrived when justice was inaccessible and when economic and political exclusion prevailed.
Madam Palmer said this at the U.S. Special Operations Command – Africa Exercise Flintlock 2023 closing ceremony jointly hosted by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in Accra.
Flintlock is U.S. Africa Command’s premier and largest annual special operations exercise, which aims to strengthen key partner nation forces throughout Africa alongside the U.S. and international special operations force communities to counter violent extremist organisations collaborating across borders.
The two-week field training exercise is now a multinational exercise comprised of 30 African and International partners, operating across five sites, spanning two countries (Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire) and conducting command post exercises, field training exercises, and now, for the first time, maritime training exercises with 1400 participants.
The exercise kicked off on March 1, 2023, with a week of academic training before transitioning to the command posts and tactical training exercises on March 7.
The training ended with a capstone on March 14, 2023.
She said the strength and influence of violent extremist groups had grown dramatically.
She noted that threats to civilians, reports of human rights abuses and violations, and levels of displacement and humanitarian needs were all on the rise.
The Ambassador said for the United States, instability in the Sahel was a security problem with a democratic governance solution.
Madam Palmer said those gaps provided an opportunity for violent extremists or other external actors to manipulate tensions to their own benefit.
“We need to work together to close these gaps so they cannot be exploited,” she stated.
She said exercise Flintlock was a perfect example of African Partners building African Solutions, enabled by international partnerships, to counter the instability emanating from the Sahel.
Madam Palmer said the successful completion of Flintlock 2023, and Ghana’s decision to host the 2024 edition was a good sign of parties standing up for shared principles and common values.