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Monday, 25 February 2019
Burkina Faso and US DC National Guard Sign Partnership
The District of Columbia National Guard and the National
Armed Forces of Burkina Faso signed a partnership agreement on 1 February. This
initiative occurs under the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program
(SPP) which brings together different National Guards with U.S. partners around
the world. The deal occurs at a critical moment as violence in Burkina Faso
“The SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision
to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve
component Soldiers and Airmen,” the National Guard’s website explains.It is
aimed at providing “an equally beneficial relationship between armed forces of
partnering U.S. National Guard states and foreign nations.”
According to a 4 February press release by the U.S. Army, Burkina Faso is the 76th nation to join this
program, while the DC Guard now has partnerships with two nations, the
Caribbean island of Jamaica, and the aforementioned African nation.
The U.S. Army’s press release added that the DC
Guard-Burkina Faso partnership will cover area such as: “homeland defense and
security, disaster mitigation and response, consequence and crisis management,
inter-agency cooperation, border, port, and aviation security, fellowship-style
internships, and combat medical events.” The first initiative between the two
sides will be a trip by DC Guard soldiers and airmen who will participate in
Exercise Flintlock, which is directed by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
(CJCS) and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.
Nowadays there are partnerships between the Guard and U.S.
allies around the world. A total of 14 African states have established
partnerships with the U.S. National guard; for example Benin teams up North
Dakota, Botswana teams up with North Carolina, Djibouti teams up with Kentucky,
andGhana teams up with North Dakota.
According to U.S. Africa Command,
“in fiscal year 2018, the National Guard conducted more than 100 State
Partnership Program events in support of USAFRICOM’s security cooperation
objectives. These events involved more than 3,000 partner nation personnel.”
Growing Importance to the U.S.
In addition to the SPP, Burkina Faso isone of the current countries to partner with
the United States under the Trans Saharan Counterterrorism Program.This program was
launched in 2005 by the State Department to expand on the previously
operational Pan Sahel Initiative
that began shortly after the attacks of 9/11.The Sahel as a whole has presented unique challenges not only to the
United States but also to its partners in the EU as well, the migrant crisis is
a prime example of this complex situation. This has led to efforts by the
Europeans to get involved with other states in the region such as Mali and
Niger to undertake similar endeavors.
The United States has had a history of warm relations with
Burkina Faso since they gained independence from France under the name of Upper
Volta in 1960. The role of the US during the crucial transitional period during
2014-15 after the overthrow of the Compare Presidency has been regarded as a
positive influence by the Burkinbe as a whole when viewing the reliability of
the United States as a partner.
The recent spike of insurgent attacks in the region over
the last few years has caused great concern over regional stability.So far efforts to restore democratic ideals
in Mali and the focus to support the Government in Niger seems to have created
some thought that Burkina Faso was being ignored by AFRICOM and other major
This relationship can actually put to rest three key
criticisms that have been levied against previous administrations. First that
the approach by the United States towards certain partners can be seen as heavy
handed. Secondly it also disproves the notion that for the most part the United
States is only concerned with access to natural resources as has been seen in
other parts of the world and finally this is not a ‘democracy building
The State Partnership with the DC National Guard and
growing relations with AFRICOM cannot come too soon as violence in the West
African state continues. In January there were a series of attacks attacking the Gold Industry.
In these series of incidents foreign nationals were targeted, these incidents
appeared to be a omen of future events In
mid-February, the AFP reported that a
doctor was killed and two police officers were wounded in the northern part of
the country when a “ bomb hidden in a corpse dressed in military uniform,”
exploded. Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thiebaand other ministers resigned in January, apparently in response to their
incapability to violence and kidnappings.
Right now, the government and armed forces Burkina Faso can
use all the international aid they can get to bring peace to the landlocked
About the Authors:
Sanchez is an analyst who focuses on geopolitical, military and cybersecurity
expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not reflect
those of any institutions with which the author are associated.
was sent in by Scott Morgan and first published on International Policy Digest