Malian special forces soldiers participate in combat reload drills at Loumbila, Burkina Faso, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Peter Seidler)

First-Ever West Africa Joint Ops Exercise Links Counterterrorism Investigators in Three Nations

The Department of State Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) plans to facilitate the first-ever West Africa Joint Operations (WAJO) regional exercise in late March 2021, designed to connect counterterrorism investigators with their judicial counterparts in three nations.

Participating nations include Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the United States. Events are planned to take place separately within each of the three West African nations, with cross-border coordination practiced where appropriate.

The WAJO regional exercise is partly modeled on successful East Africa Joint Operations exercises that have taken place since 2014, while the West Africa exercise is focused on security concerns more specific to the nations in that region. The exercise is scheduled for March 29-31, 2021 and includes elements from several recent real-world incidents. The exercises will follow the two-week Mid-Level Terrorist Investigation courses conducted by ATA in Mali and Niger and an ATA-conducted Information Collection and Analysis Reporting Team course in Burkina Faso.

The exercise will emphasize gathering timely, accurate information and evidence while working in cooperation with judicial authorities to ensure adherence to local laws and legal practices.

After-action reviews and exercise discussion reports in each country will be shared between countries to identify best practices and lessons learned.

The Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism provides ATA with funding and policy guidance, and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security delivers the training and equipment to the foreign partners on the ground. As mandated by Congress, ATA has three foreign policy objectives: to build counterterrorism capacity of friendly countries, to enhance bilateral relationships, and to increase respect for human rights.

Read more at the State Department

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