US Donates Equipment to Benin’s Armed Forces as it Considers New Host Nations for Drone Bases

The United States government has today donated four fuel trucks, spare parts, and supplemental items, worth over $2 million USD, to the Beninese Armed Forces as part of the United States’ ongoing effort to strengthen its relationship with the West African nation.

What You Need to Know:

US Ambassador to Benin Brian Shukan, while attending the donation ceremony alongside Beninese Chief of Defense Major General Fructueux Gbaguidi, stated, “These trucks will support fueling operations for the Beninese Armed Forces in the north, enabling them to increase the tempo of operations against violent extremist organizations.”

This latest donation is the second to be given to the Beninese Armed Forces by the US government, with the first set of equipment, including assault packs and first-aid kits for traumatic injuries, donated in November 2023 through the US’s border security program BORSEC.

BORSEC, launched in 2021 by the US, seeks to enable the Beninese Armed Forces to successfully conduct border security operations in the face of a growing militant Islamist threat in the country’s north. According to the US embassy in Benin, the BORSEC program has facilitated the training of over 700 Beninese soldiers on border security tactics such as land navigation, battle drills, patrolling, and emergency medical care.

Bordering Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Benin has witnessed its security environment deteriorate as Islamic militancy gains traction in its neighboring states.

Both the Islamic State (IS) and the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, are active in northern Benin, with the nation deploying troops as part of the African Union’s regional military force to combat Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), which is active in neighboring Niger.

According to the Congressional Research Service, Benin “is an emergent security partner in West Africa,” with Benin a recipient of US assistance under the Global Fragility Act (GFA).

The Details:

The United States’ Global Fragility Act, brought into effect in 2019, “focuses US foreign assistance on preventing violence and conflict in fragile countries” through strengthening social cohesion and the responsiveness and accountability of state and security services of at-risk countries.

With the removal of US forces from Niger, where a key US drone base sits at Agadez, and its strained relations with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger—all hotspots for Islamic insurgency, the United States has stated its intent to shift its security focus to coastal West Africa.

As a result of this strained relationship and according to the Wall Street Journal, the US is considering basing drones at strategically located airfields in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Benin, in an attempt to counter West and Central Africa’s growing Islamic insurgency problem.

So, What Now?:

The United States and Benin have boasted strong bilateral ties for many years, with the United States now seemingly ‘knuckling down’ in coastal West Africa in an attempt to reassert itself as a key instrument in containing Islamic Insurgency in the region after the loss of its Agadez drone base in Niger.

Additionally, strong military ties with Benin, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast would enable the US to counter growing Chinese influence in the region, with Beijing, according to US officials, allegedly seeking to establish a naval base in Gabon or Equatorial Guinea, although construction on such a base is yet to, if ever, begin. Currently, China has just one military base on the continent, in Djibouti. 

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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