Mauritania: Usafricom Commander and Senior Enlisted Leader Travel to Mauritania

Stuttgart, Germany — U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander, U.S. Africa Command, and Sgt. Maj. Michael Woods, the command's senior enlisted leader, visited Mauritania on Oct. 22-24, 2023 to reinforce security partnerships and address extremism, engaging with Mauritanian leaders and U.S. embassy officials.

STUTTGART, Germany - U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander, U.S. Africa Command, and Sgt. Maj. Michael Woods, the command's senior enlisted leader, traveled to Mauritania to meet with civilian and military leaders to discuss security cooperation, Oct. 22-24, 2023.

Langley and Woods further met with U.S. Embassy and military personnel and took part in a cultural event with Mauritanian citizens who participated in U.S. government exchange and English language programs.

"U.S. Africa Command and Mauritania continue our work together to counter violent extremism in the Sahel and help provide for a more secure and peaceful region," said Langley. "The relationship between our two countries is about protecting communities and fostering stability and economic opportunities for all Mauritanians."

On Oct. 23, Langley, Woods and U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania Cynthia Kierscht met with President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani and later with Minister of National Defense Mr. Hanana Ould Sidi.

Additionally, the commander met with Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Moctar Bollé Chabane and Mauritanian military service chiefs.

Discussions centered on shared security concerns, including violent extremist organizations and the expanding influence of other destabilizing groups. They also discussed future security cooperation opportunities between U.S. and Mauritanian militaries.

For over a decade, Mauritania has performed an important role in countering terrorist activity and preventing violent extremism as host of the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat and the G5 Sahel Defense College.

Collaborative security programs between the nations' militaries have also provided training for Mauritanian units within the country and professional growth opportunities of numerous Mauritanian officers in American military schools, which include training on the importance of civilian control of the military and respect for human rights.

The Mauritanian military has also traditionally participated in the U.S. Africa Command exercises Flintlock and Phoenix Express and hosted Flintlock 2020.

The collaborative programs have helped enhance security within the country, strengthening Mauritania's defense capabilities and its ability to protect its borders, providing for safer communities, and promoting economic development and open trade.

During the trip, the delegation also met with a small group of Mauritanian citizens who graduated from various U.S. government exchange programs and Access English courses. During the event, Langley shared his thoughts on leadership and perseverance, and participants had the opportunity to ask questions.

More than 545 Mauritanian students and professionals have traveled to the U.S. as part of U.S. Embassy sponsored exchange programs to further academic or career goals. Access English is a global scholarship program supported by the U.S. Department of State that pays for disadvantaged youth to attend after-school English classes for two years, helping to equip students with skills that can lead to further educational and employment opportunities.

U.S. Africa Command is one of seven U.S. Department of Defense geographic combatant commands. The command is responsible for all U.S. military operations, exercises, security cooperation, and conducts crisis response on the African continent to advance U.S. interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.

The visit highlights U.S. Africa Command's 3D approach, which leverages diplomacy, development, and defense collaboration.

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