U.S., Benin fight illicit trafficking, strengthen borders
By Staff Sgt. Bryan Peterson, Marine Corps Forces Africa
COTONOU, Benin --
American and Beninese officials recognized the beginning of training between
U.S. and Benin forces Aug. 31, 2015 at the National Police Academy
At the request of the government of Benin and in
coordination with the local U.S. Embassy, the Marines and sailors with
SPMAGTF-CR-AF, will train the police unit in infantry tactics to help build the
nation’s capability to counter illicit trafficking along its borders.
training will include everything from offensive maneuvers and weapons handling
to live-fire ranges and patrolling. The corpsmen with the Marine team will also
teach medical life-saving skills.
The training is a milestone for the
partnership between Benin and U.S. It is the first time in the National
Surveillance Police’s 10-year history a foreign military has come to train and
mentor the specialized unit. Benin’s Minister of Interior Placide Azande, U.S.
Embassy Benin’s Chargé d'affaires Todd Whatley and Marines and sailors with
Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa were on hand
for the opening ceremony held August 31.
Azande recently spoke at a
meeting with U.S. officials at Benin’s Ministry of Interior headquarters about
how the training will not only help his country, but its people. He said the
Marines’ advice, mentorship and “specialized skills are exactly what the
National Surveillance Police need.”
“I am very grateful to see all the
Marines here today, it gives me a great feeling,” said Azande, during the press
conference. “This is an example of how fruitful the collaboration is between the
U.S. and Benin governments. In order to be more effective on the ground, we need
this training and I am confident we will benefit from their
Benin and the U.S. share concerns about illicit traffic along
Benin’s border, further explaining that the solid partnership between the two
countries will only get stronger according to Whatley.
“We all know the
difficulties,” said Whatley. “We have great hope that with initiatives like this
training that brings us together today, and with the steady collaboration
between Beninese authorities and the diplomatic community, our combined
capacities will allow us to achieve a new level of security that is
unprecedented in Benin.”
SPMAGTF-CR-AF Det. A is based out of Naval Air
Station Sigonella, Italy, where they stage and prepare for theater security
cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This specific iteration
is manned by Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment,
permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Coast
Guardsmen from various stations across the United States.
Marine Corps Forces Africa
National Police Academy headquarters