U.S. Special Forces and Beninese Armed Forces Conduct Fourth Joint Military Exercise

Special Operations Command Africa Forces partnered with the Beninese Army during a Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) that concluded April 7, 2023, in Ouassa, Benin, the fourth between the U.S. and Benin. These exercises reflect the U.S. and Benin’s long-standing security partnership, and how the two countries work closely to combat the extremist threat. During the JCET, U.S. Army Green Berets of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) collaborated with members of the Beninese Army’s First Parachutist Battalion to hone their tactical and operational skills.

In the short term, the U.S. strengthens the capacity of Beninese security forces so they can detect and defeat the extremists, while protecting civilians. JCETs provide Beninese special operations units specific training to promote security, improve readiness and conduct successful operations against the extremists.

In addition to the JCET, the U.S. government has provided radios and first aid kits to the Beninese military to increase operational readiness and organic capability. The U.S. also conducted multi-day counter-IED training enabling the Beninese military to detect and defeat one of the extremists’ primary weapons (increasing the survivability and safety of both Beninese soldiers and civilians). Working to strengthen the Benin’s Armed Forces’  border security efforts, the U.S. has recently begun a three-year six billion CFA program to hone their patrolling skills, further develop small unit tactics, and provide increased equipment to aid in the fight against transnational terrorism.

Over the long-term, the U.S. works to improve economic opportunities in the North so that local populations are more resistant to terrorist recruitment. For example, the U.S. will invest over 100 billion CFA to improve roads, infrastructure and trade between the Port of Cotonou and Niamey, Niger. By rehabilitating one of the most important trade routes in West Africa, the compact will help the communities who depend on trade between Niamey and Cotonou. During U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent trip to Ghana, she announced $139 million to promote security and stability in Coastal West Africa (including Benin).

JCETs are part of a series of U.S. engagements with the Beninese military that provide opportunities for units to work together, learn from each other, and strengthen relationships. This is the fourth JCET that U.S. Special Operations Forces has conducted with Beninese Forces in the past two years. The two partner forces also participated in the 2023 Obangame Express exercise in Nigeria, which focused on combatting maritime crimes that encompassed piracy and illegal fishing. The U.S. and Benin are security partners, now and in the future.