24

Sep

2015

Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking

By Staff Sgt. Bryan Peterson, Marine Corps Forces Africa


U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, 2015, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, 2015, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a month-long theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a month-long theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
Building confidence: US, Benin work together in border village to counter illicit trafficking
U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise. The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a monthlong theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.
JESU JRO, Benin -- U.S. Marines and sailors accompanied Benin’s National Surveillance Police to Jesu Jro, Benin, Sept. 24, to conduct a combined border surveillance training exercise.

The Marines and sailors with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa came to Benin for a month-long theater security cooperation mission to build the NSP’s capacity to counter illicit trafficking along the country’s borders.

During the past month, Marines and sailors taught combat marksmanship, patrolling, ambush techniques, close-quarters combat, tactical questioning and the operations orders process to 150 NSP students. The training came at the request of the Beninese government and through coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Benin.

After spending a month learning U.S. Marine infantry tactics, the NPS leadership wanted the students to train in Jesu Jro to show Beninese living in the border village the government is serious about reducing criminal activities. The NPS acted out scenarios in vehicle checkpoints, entry control points and detainee handling.

Jesu Jro borders Nigeria and is one of many villages on the almost 500 mile-long Beninese-Nigerian border that is troubled with illicit trafficking.

The NSP is 10 years in the making and is comprised of 300 policemen, with plans to continue growing. The policemen were recruited from the Benin National Police to form the specialized unit and this is the first time a foreign force has come to train the unit in its young history.

The exercise didn’t come at a surprise to the village, as the residents knew the NPS was coming.

Ismael Igriss, a 21-year-old college student visiting family in the tiny village, was among the many people who came out to see the Benin government in action. He described the criminal activities the people experienced in the past few years as a “nightly occurrence that harassed us and stole all of our belongings at random.”

“They sometimes would come out during the day, but mostly at night while we were sleeping,” said Igriss. “We didn’t do anything to deserve this. We are just simple people. I honestly believe with the [NPS] here today showing us what they are capable of, will not just give us hope but give us confidence that we won’t have any more problems once they are here permanently.”

Didier Atchou, the NSP commissioner and central director of the Intelligence Bureau said his country has made strides in curbing a myriad of illegal activities, but they need to build the NSP’s combat capacity to counter “increased issues on the border.”

One of those activities is wildlife trafficking, which is on the rise in Africa. The illegal, multi-million dollar industry is negatively affecting wildlife populations and economies, as the thirst for ivory and other animal-related parts are growing.

In 2014, President Barack Obama outlined initiatives in the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that calls for combined efforts to reduce the demand for these products while simultaneously curbing the illegal trade industry.

The strategy calls for “combined efforts from nonprofits, corporations, individuals, and foreign government partners, to make that happen.”

“Throughout the region, and throughout the world, wildlife trafficking continues to push protected and endangered species to the brink of extinction,” said Francisco Perez, the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou. “Increasingly, wildlife trafficking is intertwined with other illicit activities that undermine national security and economic prosperity. The partnership of the U.S. Marine forces training alongside the Beninese Police Forces aids in the efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.”

Atchou also believes Benin’s commitment to deploy 800 of its armed forces to join a multinational force that includes Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, to fight terrorist group Boko Haram, will result in retaliation by the terrorist group in Benin.

“So far, Benin hasn’t had any terrorist attacks and that’s why we need to be out in these villages along the border,” said Atchou. “The people need to know we are there to help them and protect them even more. We have taken measures against possible terrorist attacks and people who just want to do bad things for themselves and our people need to know [we are here].”

Atchou added the NSP has taken steps in making a permanent presence in these towns. So far, they’ve built five border police stations with plans to build more, including in Jesu Jro.

“It is important to note that [the NSP] is a young special unit,” said Atchou. “They were policemen before, now they’re part of an organization that requires different tactics. This is why we asked for the U.S. Marines to come here to train our guys.”

Martial Mehou, the deputy brigadier instructor for the academy, wants his country to succeed in the fight against illicit trafficking throughout Benin’s borders and the Marine training is helping him and his instructors better prepare future students.

“We have isolated populations along the border who are always getting harassed by these bad people,” said Mehou. “We want our people to go to school, go to work and just live normal lives. With our presence on the borders and the Marines’ training, we can accomplish this and I am confident we will.”

1st Lt. Clifford A. Miles, the team’s officer in charge, said the partnership between his team and NSP has grown exponentially since they arrived a month ago. Though the NSP will be on the borders, Miles believes his team and the Beninese are “in the fight together.”

“There is a lot of bad in this world and anything we can do to show our support, we are more than willing to do it,” said Miles. “After talking and working with these guys for the past month, we’ve made a lot of friendships. They have the same mindset we do – stopping the violence and creating an environment that fosters normalcy. We’re glad to be here working with them.”

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.

Benin Benin’s National Surveillance Police Beninese government combined border surveillance training exercise Jesu Jro Marines Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa U.S. Embassy in Benin