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HomeGeopolitical CompassSub-Saharan AfricaAnother U.S.-Trained Soldier Stages a Coup in West Africa

Another U.S.-Trained Soldier Stages a Coup in West Africa

Author: Nick Turse

Affiliation: The Intercept, The Nation Institute, and

Organization/Publisher: The Intercept

Date/Place: January 26, 2022 /New York, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1360



Keywords: USA, West Africa, Foreign Military Training, and Military Coups




Nick Turse discusses the direct relationship between the US military training provided to West African soldiers and generals and their initiation of military coups in their countries. Turse highlights more than one example of US-trained military officers who led military coups in West African countries during the last two decades. In the beginning, he refers to the latest military coup against the democratically-elected president in Burkina Faso that brought Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba to power a few days ago. He states that, according to AFRICOM (The United States Africa Command), Damiba has participated in several US military trainings in the period between 2010 and 2020 such as ‘the Flintlock exercise’. This is one case among many others of coup leaders trained by the US as part of its “security assistance”, with an estimated budget of more than one billion dollars to “sustain stability” in the region. Other examples include nine coups in different West African states since 2008 such as “Burkina Faso (three times), Guinea, Mali (three times), Mauritania, and the Gambia”. In addition to this pattern in West African countries is also the US-trained Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s military coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected president. This security assistance encompasses teams of commandos who provide advise and assist local forces, providing weapons and aircrafts, as well as introducing training programs such as Flintlock with the objective of empowering these African militaries and maintaining their capacities to fight terrorism. AFRICOM claims that its training programs emphasize on human rights and the rule of law and it refuses any charges of military seizures of power through coups related to its training. On the contrary, Jonathan Caverley and Jesse Savage argue that there is “a robust relationship between U.S. training of foreign militaries and military-backed coup attempts” based on an analysis study of data between 1970 and 2009.

Nick Turse’s argument underlines the military coups cliché and how they are stereotyped in their structure while shedding the light on the association of many of these coup leaders with a form of US military training or education. He shows more than one evidence in his overview of several coups occurring in West Africa particularly and elsewhere. However, the article requires more clarification about these training programs’ frameworks, its details, and justification of this correlation. For instance, Flintlock is one of these mentioned training programs. Flintlock is ‘U.S. Africa Command’s premier and largest annual Special Operations Forces exercise’ which includes several participating African countries such as ‘Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo’ as well as other international partners including ‘Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States’. Correspondingly, it could be argued that it’s a post-colonial framework of surveillance over former African colonies which encompasses different Western countries under the leadership of the USA. 

By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant



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