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U.S., Benin fight illicit trafficking, strengthen borders

US Marine Corps News

By Staff Sgt. Bryan Peterson, Marine Corps Forces Africa

September 2, 2015

COTONOU, Benin -- American and Beninese officials recognized the beginning of training between U.S. and Benin forces Aug. 31, 2015 at the National Police Academy headquarters.

At the request of the government of Benin and in coordination with the local U.S. Embassy, the Marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-CR-AF, will train the police unit in infantry tactics to help build the nation’s capability to counter illicit trafficking along its borders.

The training will include everything from offensive maneuvers and weapons handling to live-fire ranges and patrolling. The corpsmen with the Marine team will also teach medical life-saving skills.

The training is a milestone for the partnership between Benin and U.S. It is the first time in the National Surveillance Police’s 10-year history a foreign military has come to train and mentor the specialized unit. Benin’s Minister of Interior Placide Azande, U.S. Embassy Benin’s Chargé d'affaires Todd Whatley and Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa were on hand for the opening ceremony held August 31.

Azande recently spoke at a meeting with U.S. officials at Benin’s Ministry of Interior headquarters about how the training will not only help his country, but its people. He said the Marines’ advice, mentorship and “specialized skills are exactly what the National Surveillance Police need.”

“I am very grateful to see all the Marines here today, it gives me a great feeling,” said Azande, during the press conference. “This is an example of how fruitful the collaboration is between the U.S. and Benin governments. In order to be more effective on the ground, we need this training and I am confident we will benefit from their efforts.”

Benin and the U.S. share concerns about illicit traffic along Benin’s border, further explaining that the solid partnership between the two countries will only get stronger according to Whatley.

“We all know the difficulties,” said Whatley. “We have great hope that with initiatives like this training that brings us together today, and with the steady collaboration between Beninese authorities and the diplomatic community, our combined capacities will allow us to achieve a new level of security that is unprecedented in Benin.”

SPMAGTF-CR-AF Det. A is based out of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, where they stage and prepare for theater security cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This specific iteration is manned by Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Coast Guardsmen from various stations across the United States.

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