Template:Infobox military conflictTemplate:Campaignbox OEFTemplate:Campaignbox Algeria 2002-present Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) is the name of the military operation conducted by the United States and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa, consisting of counterterrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across central Africa. It is part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The other OEF mission in Africa is Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF - HOA).

Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTF Aztec Silence) is the combined arms organization assigned to implement the missions and meet the goals of OEF-TS. The JTF has been part of United States European Command (EUCOM). As of September 2007, with the announcement of the new United States Africa Command, the mission will fall under the responsibility of Africa Command.[1]

The Congress approved $500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against alleged threats of Al Qaeda operating in African countries, primarily Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco.[2] This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which concluded in December 2004[3] and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism.[4] TSCTI has both military and non-military components to it. OEF-TS is the military component of the program. Civil affairs elements include USAID educational efforts, airport security, Department of the Treasury, and State Department efforts.[5]

Canada deployed teams of less than 15 CSOR members to Mali throughout 2011 to help combat militants in the Sahara.[6] Although the special forces will not engage in combat, they will train the Malian military in basic soldiering. Areas include communications, planning, first aid, and providing aid to the general populace.[6]

Mission[edit | edit source]

Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara is primarily a training mission meant to equip 10 nations to combat insurgents in the region.[7] Africa Command states:

OEF-TS is the USG’s 3rd priority counter terror effort conducting activities that support TSCTP but are not exclusive to TSCTP. OEF-TS supports TSCTP by forming relationships of peace, security, and cooperation among all Trans Sahara Nations. OEF-TS fosters collaboration and communication among participating countries. Furthermore, OEF-TS strengthens counterterrorism and border security, promotes democratic governance, reinforces bilateral military ties, and enhances development and institution building. U.S. Africa Command, through OEF-TS, provides training, equipment, assistance and advice to partner nation armed forces. This increases their capacity and capability to deny safe haven to terrorists and ultimately defeat extremist and terrorist activities in the region. [7]

Training Programs[edit | edit source]

Flintlock[edit | edit source]

File:US Navy 070822-F-5735S-038 Sailors fire AK-47 rifles at the Gendarme training range before the start of exercise Flintlock 2007.jpg

U.S. Navy personnel demonstrate the use of rifles during Flintlock 2007

Twice a year, the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program holds a multinational training exercise.[8] Called Flintlocks, these exercises are meant to strengthen special forces from the United States as well as multiple other nations.[8] Participants include troops from the Sahel and those from NATO members.[8] Flintlock started in 1988 and continued through Operation Enduring Freedom, and is now held in Africa.[8] The exercises teach medical operations, infantry and peacekeeping training, airborne operations, humanitarian relief, and leadership skills.[8] The amount each category is stressed depends on the host nation's needs.[8] In addition, participants are put through different scenarios involving skills instructed during the exercise.[9]

Mali was supposed to host the 2012 exercise, but the United States decided to postpone the exercise.[10] Officials say Flintlock was postponed because Mali is facing a renewed Tuareg insurgency.[10]

Atlas Accord[edit | edit source]

Although the Flintlock Exercise was postponed, another training program in Mali was not. The Atlas Accord was created in 2012 to train African military personnel in a number of skills while focusing on logistics.[11] The exercise includes classroom instruction and field instruction.[11] Atlas Accord 12 focused solely on logistics and aerial resupply, while the next exercise in 2013 will continue training in aerial logistics but will also include command, control, communications, and computer (C4) techniques.[11]

African Lion[edit | edit source]

The largest training exercise, African Lion, is an annual security cooperation exercise held by the US and Morocco.[12] Created in 2008, this program is designed to instruct a variety of skills, including aerial logistics, non-lethal weapons training, combined arms and maneuver exercises.[12] More than 900 Moroccans and 1,200 Americans take part in the two week exercise.[12]

The Insurgency Since 2007[edit | edit source]

Security Operations[edit | edit source]

On 12 September while delivering food to Malian troops a US C-130 cargo plane was struck by machine gun rounds from suspected Tuareg rebels, no one was injured and the plane made it safely to its destination.[13] So far, over 100 al-Qaeda militants have been killed by hostile conditions and 263 by non-hostile conditions in the Sahara Desert.

On July 5 2011, the Mauritanian military announced that 15 militants had been killed, with 2 of Mauritania's soldiers dying. AQIM countered by saying they killed 20 Mauritanian soldiers.[14] Mauritania later said that Al-Qaeda attempted to attack an army base but the militants were repelled by security forces and that 10 fighters were killed.[15]

1,000 soldiers from Mali and Mauritania launched an offensive on training camps in western Mali. 25 militants and 2 soldiers were killed in the fighting. The offensive ended on August 5 when the remaining militants fled their camps.[16] Despite this, AQIM continued to train recruits, including a growing number of Black Africans at camps in Nigeria.[17]

A 4-vehicle convoy transporting weapons and 59 youths forcibly recruited was attacked by Niger security forces in mid September. One vehicle was destroyed, 3 militants, and one Nigerien were killed. The Nigerien troops also seized one of the vehicles, several RPGs and AK-47s, and the youths.[18][19] A similar clash occurred days earlier, resulting in the deaths of one soldier and 3 militants.[20]

Morocco dismantled several cells plotting attacks within the country. The first cell contained 4 Al-Qaeda members and was dismantled on September 23 by Moroccan authorities.[21] The second cell was uncovered 8 days later.[22]

One month later, the Mauritanian military announced that it killed AQIM leader Tiyib Ould Sidi Ali in an air raid. The Algerian-born Ali was wanted for a failed bombing attempt on the Mauritanian capital.[23] Ali was also responsible an attack on the Israeli embassy in 2008 and was plotting an attack in Mauritania.[24]

Tunisian authorities broke up a cell linked to AQIM planning to overthrow the government.[25] Several members from the cell reportedly trained in Libya and took part in the revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.[25] 12 members were arrested, while 8 others fled to Libya and another to Algeria.[25]

Kidnapping by Al-Qaeda[edit | edit source]

Three Spanish aid workers were traveling by car in November 2009 when gunmen opened fire on them. The unknown gunmen then stopped the car and kidnapped the three workers. The Spanish Interior Minister confirmed the kidnapping and said that AQIM was behind it.[26] One of the hostages, Alicia Gamez was released in March, but the kidnappers demanded that Spain released the AQIM members in its custody.[27] The remaining two hostages were freed in late August, though it was unclear whether a ransom was paid.[28]

Michel Germaneau, a 78-year old French aid worker was kidnapped along with his driver on April 22.[29] Germaneau's driver was later released, but Al Qaeda issued a 15 day period in July for France to return captured fighters or Germaneau would be executed.[30] France refused to comply, and instead mounted a rescue attempt, killing 6 militants, but failed to rescue Germaneau.[30] AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud later announced that Germaneau was executed in retaliation, prompting France to call for more action against AQIM.[30] Winan Bin Yousef, an AQIM leader suspected of executing Germaneau was arrested in November the next year.[31]

Months later, in January 2011, 4 kidnappers seized a pair of French citizens at a restaurant Niamey, Niger. The kidnappers fought their way into Mali, injuring an army officer in the process.[32] Soldiers from Niger and France pursued and killed all four attackers, but the hostages were found dead. After the raid, France condemned the killings and warned its citizens to avoid the Sahel Region.[33]

In October 2011, members of Al Qaeda infiltrated the Rabuni Refugee Camp in Algeria, taking 2 Spanish and an Italian aid worker.[34] The kidnappers were believed to be supported by members of the polisario, which ran the camp.[35] No demands have been made, but Spain is working to recover the workers.[36]

Although foreigners are typically the targets of kidnapping, locals are not. Instead, Al Qaeda has attempted to win over the support of African villagers, Similar to a strategy introduced by Osama Bin Laden.[37] Militants have acted in a friendly manner towards villagers and prescribe medicine to ill people. In addition, the militants pay villagers in exchange for basic services and hand out candy to children.[37] Although the organization as a whole is in disarray, AQIM has tripled in size since 2006.[37]

Weapons and Drug Smuggling[edit | edit source]

File:Mauritanian troops-Mali-Mauritania border-2010.jpg

Mauritanian troops search for AQIM insurgents moving through the desert

Counter-terrorism officials in the United States fear that AQIM and FARC are increasingly involved in illicit drug trade in the Sahara.[38] Officials believe that North Africa is seen by FARC as an easy alternative to European drug routes, which are increasingly difficult to use.[38] According to the Algerian government, AQIM and its affiliates gained $130 million between 2007 and 2011 through kidnappings and the drug trade.[38]

Following the Libyan Revolution, smugglers were reported to have tried to obtain left-over weapons caches for various groups, including AQIM. The Nigerien Army intercepted one such convoy in early November, killing 13 smugglers, arresting 35, and seized a large cache of weapons, while one soldier died in the clash.[39] Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of AQIM's top leaders confirmed that his group had obtained Libyan weapons, but denied reports that Al-Qaeda had a presence in Libya.[40] Belmokhtar also denied that AQIM takes part in drug trafficking and claimed that Al-Qaeda was the greatest benefactor of the Arab Spring revolutions.[40] However, Oumar Issa, who was arrested in 2009 with 2 other Malians, plead guilty 6 days after Belmokhtar's statement to charges of trafficking drugs for Al-Qaeda and FARC.[41]

Mokhtar Belmokhtar is alive and leading military operations according to one of his associates on 28 August 2012. He denied a report that Belmokhtar had been killed in clashes in Mali in late June of 2012.[42]

Bomb Attacks[edit | edit source]

Mauritania was the target of 2 car bombing attacks by Al Qaeda in August 2010 and February 2011. The first was when a 4x4 loaded with explosives attempted to ram into an army base. Security forces opened fire and destroyed the vehicle before it could reach its target.[43] The second occurred when 2 vehicles loaded with explosives tried to attack targets in the capital. Again, Mauritanian troops fired on the vehicle, destroying it and killing 3 militants, as well as injuring 8 soldiers. AQIM claimed responsibility in the attack, saying they attempted to assassinate President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.[44]

A third car bombing, this one successful, occurred in Nigeria. The vehicle rammed into the UN headquarters, killing at least 19 people. The attack was condemned by world leaders, including the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, who said it was an "assault on those who devote their lives to helping others.[45] In response, Nigeria arrested 6 bombers 11 days later.[46] Nigeria also discovered a bomb factory the next day and arrested one person.[47] Another bomb factory was hit by an accidental blast on March 2 2012, killing 3 members of Boko Haram[48]

Between July and August 2011, 29 members of Algeria's security forces were killed, according to Al-Qaeda. 18 of those killed were victims of twin suicide attacks.[49] Algeria did, however, stop a suicide plot against American and European ships in the Mediterranean. The 3-man AQIM cell behind the attack was arrested in January 2012 while the plan was still in its early stages.[50] Two months later, a suicide car bomber drove into an Algerian gendarme headquarters.[51] Ten gendarmes and fourteen civilians were injured in the attack.[51]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "DoD Establishing U.S. Africa Command". US Department of Defense. 6 February 2007. http://www.defenselink.mil/News/NewsArticle.aspx?id=2940. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  2. ""US to get Africa command centre" 6 February 2007". BBC News. 6 February 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6336063.stm. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  3. "EUCOM: Operations and Initiatives". EUCOM. Archived from the original on 9 January 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070109185740/http://www.eucom.mil/english/Operations/main.asp. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  4. "Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI)". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/pan-sahel.htm. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  5. "Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS)". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/oef-ts.htm. Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Canada Sends Special Forces to Aid African Al-Qaida Fight". Montreal Gazette. 2 December 2011. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/canada-in-afghanistan/Canada+sends+special+forces+African+Qaida+fight/5804679/story.html. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara". AFRICOM. http://www.africom.mil/oef-ts.asp. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 "Flintlock". Global Security. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/flintlock.htm. 
  9. "Flintlock 10 Begins in Burkina Faso". AFRICOM. May 4 2010. http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=4364. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "US Postpones Counter-Terrorism Training Exercises in Mali as Army there Battles Tuareg Rebels". Washington Post. February 10 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/us-postpones-counter-terrorism-training-exercises-in-mali-as-army-there-battles-tuareg-rebels/2012/02/10/gIQA3lS13Q_story.html. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "US, Mali Armies Kick off Exercise Atlas Accord; Postpone Exercise Flintlock". DefenseWeb. February 13 2012. http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23446:us-mali-armies-kick-off-exercise-atlas-accord-postpone-exercise-flintlock&catid=50:Land&Itemid=105. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 [1]
  13. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1320&dat=20070914&id=f-hWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=L-wDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3458,3550984
  14. "Mali: Aqmi affirme avoir tué 20 Mauritaniens lors d'un raid". http://www.20minutes.fr/ledirect/753613/mali-aqmi-affirme-avoir-tue-20-mauritaniens-lors-raid. 
  15. "Mauritanian Forces Repel Militants From Army Base". BBC. 8 July 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14042790. 
  16. "Al Qaeda retreats from West Mali Camps-Military Sources". Reuters Africa. 5 August 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/mauritaniaNews/idAFL6E7J51DI20110805. 
  17. "ANALYSIS-Al Qaeda Influence Growing South of Sahara". Reuters Africa. 8 September 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/algeriaNews/idAFL5E7K74I420110908. 
  18. "Niger Attacks Al-Qaida Linked Cell, Killing 3". Associated Press. 15 September 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iZa882onE9k_IDN_wOQvy4-gUEzQ?docId=fa103c4fdb914ead8f6c0d0688ed1e56. 
  19. "Niger says Four Killed in Al-Qaeda Clash". Reuters Africa. 16 September 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/nigerNews/idAFL5E7KG2IN20110916. 
  20. "Niger says Four Killed in Al-Qaeda Clash". Reuters Africa. 16 September 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/nigerNews/idAFL5E7KG2IN20110916. 
  21. "Morocco Dismantles Al-Qaeda-Linked Cell". Associated Press. 23 September 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gC_OJ3uE1JUrE_Vo1fSkbjeqLyhg?docId=3b2fb5db46b24fcc9f83e3268e6f6688. 
  22. "Morocco: State Breaks Up Terrorist Cell--Police Department". http://allafrica.com/stories/201110020148.html. 
  23. "Mauritania army raid killed al-Qaida group leader". Miami Herald. 23 October 2011. http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/22/2466290/mauritania-army-raid-killed-al.html. 
  24. "Mauritania Army Raid Killed Al-Qaida Group Leader". CBS. October 22 2011. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501710_162-20124220.html. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 "Tunisia Thwarts Terror Plan". Magharebia. February 22 2012. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/02/22/feature-03. 
  26. "Three Spanish Aid Workers Kidnapped in Mauritania". The Guardian. November 30 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/30/spanish-aid-workers-kidnapped-mauritania. 
  27. "Spain: Aid Worker Snatched by Al Qaeda Freed". http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-10/world/spain.aid.worker.freed_1_aid-worker-mauritania-kidnapped?_s=PM:WORLD. 
  28. "Spanish Aid Workers Freed from Al-Qaida Group in North Africa". The Guardian. August 23 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/23/spanish-aid-workers-freed-al-qaida. 
  29. "Michel Germaneau, French Aid Worker, Executed by Al Qaida Group in Africa". Huffington Post. July 26 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/michel-germaneau-french-a_n_659133.html. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 "French Hostage Executed after raid on Al-Qaeda base". France 24 news. 26 July 2011. http://www.france24.com/en/20100725-french-hostage-executed-aqim-qaeda-north-africa-michel-germaneau-killing. 
  31. http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/Aki/English/Security/Niger-Militant-with-ties-to-killers-of-French-engineer-arrested_312622977872.html
  32. "2 French Citizens Kidnapped in Niger Capital Kidnapped in Niger's Capital". Bloomberg. 8 January 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-08/two-french-citizens-kidnapped-in-niger-capital-witnesses-say.html. 
  33. Lichfield, John (10 January 2011). "French Hostages Killed During Niger Rescue Bid". London: The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/french-hostages-killed-during-niger-rescue-bid-2180308.html. 
  34. "Spanish, Italian Aid Workers Abducted in Algeria". Al Arabiya. October 23 2011. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/10/23/173269.html. 
  35. "Kidnappers of Three European Aid Workers Benefited from Polisario Security Apparatus' Support: Spanish Paper Says". Morocco Tommorrow. October 27 2011. http://moroccotomorrow.org/2011/10/27/kidnappers-of-three-european-aid-workers-benefited-from-polisario-security-apparatus-support-spanish-paper-says/. 
  36. "The Two Spanish Charity Workers Kidnapped in Algeria are Still Alive". Spain Review. November 1 2011. http://www.spainreview.net/index.php/2011/11/01/the-two-spanish-charity-workers-kidnapped-in-algeria-are-still-alive/. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 "Candy, Cash, Al-Qaida Implants Itself in Africa". Daily Herald. 3 December 2011. http://www.heraldextra.com/news/world/africa/candy-cash-al-qaida-implants-itself-in-africa/article_5ae8c4dc-10d9-50da-9569-dff419aabe70.html. 
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 "AQIM Tied to Colombian Drug Trade". UPI. December 30 2012. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/12/30/AQIM-tied-to-Colombian-drug-trade/UPI-55701293731614/. 
  39. "Niger Troops Intercept Heavily-Armed Libyan Convoy". RTT News. 10 November 2011. http://www.rttnews.com/Content/MarketSensitiveNews.aspx?Id=1757935&SM=1. 
  40. 40.0 40.1 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iS1VcU-F-7fVHSvJI3XMzT52JTkg?docId=b2b53ce702554825b8684af2b5bb7652
  41. "Malian Guilty in US of Drug-Running for Al Qaeda, FARC". AFP. 15 November 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j-w0aaJr_wBd2GXHCGZJAHCDg--g?docId=CNG.ec13fa2d970e9e385e80aacbafe95753.e81. 
  42. Maclean, William. "Al Qaeda denies Maghreb commander killed in clashes". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/28/us-algeria-qaeda-idUSBRE87R0E520120828. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  43. "Car Bomber Attack on Mauritanian Army Base Thwarted". Reuters Africa. 25 August 2010. http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE67O08520100825. 
  44. "Mauritania Foils AQIM Attack". Magharebia. 3 February 2011. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/02/03/feature-02. 
  45. "UN Offices Bombing in Nigeria Kills 19". CBC. 26 August 2011. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/08/26/un-bomb-nigeria.html. 
  46. "6 Suspected Al-Qaeda Linked Bombers Held in Nigeria". MSN India. 6 September 2011. http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5418612. 
  47. "ANALYSIS-Al-Qaeda Influence Growing South of the Sahara". Reuters Africa. 8 September 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/algeriaNews/idAFL5E7K74I420110908?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0. 
  48. "Army: 3 sect members die in north Nigeria blast". Boston.com. March 2, 2012. http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-02/news/31117985_1_boko-haram-local-hausa-language-sect-members. 
  49. "Nations Focus on Terrorism in Sahara". Associated Press. 7 September 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iE5gI2y8DhBwhfMAvkXZfG7HFWGg?docId=1a21211b848a4d2db39d53674c96f60e. 
  50. "Algeria "Foils al-Qaida Attack on Ships". UPI. January 31 2012. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2012/01/31/Algeria-foils-al-Qaida-attack-on-ships/UPI-45111328039154/. 
  51. 51.0 51.1 "Algeria 'Suicide Car Bomb Attack Injures 24'". France24. March 3 2012. http://www.france24.com/en/20120303-algeria-suicide-car-bomb-attack-injures-24. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:War on Terrorism

it:Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara ja:トランス・サハラにおける不朽の自由作戦 pt:Operação Liberdade Duradoura - Trans Saara ru:Операция «Несокрушимая свобода» — Западная Сахара

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.