The US-led effort in combating terrorism Africa is not just a military option but an entire government solution, calling in the full range of government entities, the acting undersecretary of defense for policy said on Thursday on Capitol Hill.

While the US troops will continue to work by, with and through their African allies, other government agencies such as the State Department and USAID will work with local organizations such as the African Union to build up the necessary infrastructure for local governments to make the necessary improvements in nation-building.

 “These groups exploit instability, weak governance, vulnerable populations, social media and vast spaces to establish safe havens, spread their toxic ideology and attack all who do not subscribe to it,” David J. Trachtenberg said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on counterterrorism efforts in Africa.

“While DoD maintains expert counterterrorism forces — the best in the world, bar none — capable of conducting precision air strikes and complex raids to protect our interests, we are focused principally on helping our partners build their own capabilities and expand their capacity to fight these terrorist organizations and stem further violence and instability,” he said.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has put significant emphasis on building and strengthening partnerships, Trachtenberg added, to both lessen the demand for U.S. forces and to ensure sustainable indigenous solutions to these problems.

“In the simplest terms, DoD seeks to work by, with and through our partners in Africa to find African solutions to African problems,” the undersecretary said. That means military operations against terrorist organizations are conducted by host nation force, and U.S. forces work with partner nations to train, equip, advise and enable and accompany them on operations and improve their effectiveness and professionalism, he noted. “And through this cooperative relationship, the United States and our partners in Africa achieve our shared strategic objectives.”

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Trachtenberg praised our allies, particularly France as they have along with the US committed thousands of troops and government resources in the continent of Africa.

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Photo courtesy US Army