DAKAR, Senegal - The third Trans-Sahara Partnership Chiefs of Defense Conference took place here Feb. 7.
About 100 delegates representing Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and the United States participated in the event.
The delegates chose "Strengthening the Trans-Sahara Partnership through greater cooperation to better combat terrorism" as the theme for this year's conference. "This conference represents important progress for the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership — the nations here have a common goal of reducing the ability of violent extremists to harm or kill innocent civilians," said Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward, U.S. European Command deputy commander.
The conference, which included presentations by each nation, provided participants an opportunity to discuss emerging issues in their joint efforts to make Africa's Trans-Saharan region stable and secure.
"The outcome of this day is that we have been all unanimous in our assessments of this enemy … which mainly is terrorism," said Senegalese Army Brig. Gen. Abdel Kader Gueye. "We all came to the same conclusion — given the nature of our enemy, given his flexibility, given his multi-faceted method of action — we all agreed with the level of difficulties we are facing, to combat this enemy."
Since the time of the Pan Sahel Initiative, which began in 2003, the partnership has grown from five to 10 nations, with many successes, Ward said.
"The United States is pleased to be a part of this endeavor," he concluded. "Our objective is to provide assistance to partner nations and to facilitate cooperation between the countries of the Sahel and our Maghreb partners."