The United States has offered mobility equipment to the Burkinabè army to combat terrorism, a donation which exceeds one billion FCFA and which consists of Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles and motorcycles.
The donation, which was handed over on Friday, February 2, 2024, at the Ouagadougou military base, is part of the US counterterrorism assistance program to Burkina Faso. The equipment will benefit the special intervention group of the national police and the special intervention unit of the national gendarmerie, which are in charge of conducting anti-terrorist operations in the country.
The Burkinabè authorities expressed their gratitude to the US government for its continued support and friendship, especially in the context of the security crisis that has plagued the country since 2015. Mahamoudou Nana, Minister Delegate for Security, said that the donation was a sign of the excellent cooperation between the two countries and that it would help the defense and security forces to achieve their ultimate objective, which is the fight against terrorism and the restoration of territorial integrity.
Eric Whitaker, charge d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Burkina Faso, said that the US respects Burkina Faso’s sovereignty and its legitimate right to chart its own course. He also welcomed Burkina Faso’s vision to take charge of its destiny and to resolve the problem of terrorism by its own means. He added that the US was ready to provide its support and that the fight against terrorism requires the commitment of the entire society.
The donation of military equipment reflects the stability of relations between Burkina Faso and the United States despite geopolitical changes in the region. According to the Burkinabè authorities, the US has been offering training and equipment to Burkina’s security forces since 2014 to enable them to increase their operational capacity on the ground. This year, the US government plans to provide more than 9.6 billion CFA francs in aid to Burkina Faso, which will be directed towards training, the supply of weapons, protective equipment and medical equipment.
The US has continues its support to the Burkinabè military. In December 2019, the US government donated military transport and communications equipment to Burkina Faso, to be used by the Burkinabè G5 Sahel battalion, which is a regional force composed of troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, and which aims to combat terrorism and organized crime in the Sahel.
Meanwhile, Burkina’s military rulers have deepened cooperation with Moscow as the country looks to diversify its international allies following the coup, at the detriment of former colonial master France. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his counterpart from Burkina Faso Kassoum Coulibaly met in November last year, and agreed to strengthen defense ties. Subsequently, this January, Russia has sent 100 military personnel to Burkina Faso, the first significant deployment of Russian troops to the West African country, which has been rocked by a coup and a jihadist insurgency. The move comes as Burkina Faso seeks to diversify its international allies after expelling French troops in early 2023, following the example of neighbouring Mali, where Russian Wagner operatives have been active.
The security situation in Burkina Faso remains precarious, as the country faces multiple threats from various armed groups, including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which are affiliated to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, respectively. According to the UN, more than 1.2 million people have been displaced by the violence and more than 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The country is also facing a severe food crisis, with more than 3.5 million people facing acute food insecurity.
To combat the security challenges in the region, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigér have withdrawn from the G5 Sahel force, a regional anti-jihadist coalition that was set up in 2014 with the support of France. The two countries have joined Mali, which also quit the G5 last year after a military coup, in forming a new alliance of Sahel states that aims to enhance their security and development.
The G5 Sahel force, which also includes Chad and Mauritania, has been struggling to contain the Islamist insurgency that has spread across the vast and arid region south of the Sahara. The force, which was supposed to have about 5,000 soldiers, has been hampered by lack of funding, equipment, coordination and political will.
Burkina Faso military recently acquired a plethora of military equipment to boost it firepower. These comprised of Egyptian-made Buffalo E10 (Temsah-2) MRAP vehicles, and FAHD armored vehicles, Emirati-Made Isotrex Phantom MRAP Vehicles, Turkish Nurol Makina Edjer 6×6 armoured vehicles, Edger Yarçin 4×4 APC, as well as a number of Chinese armoured vehicles and projectiles.