Commander of the United States Africa Command, Gen. Carter Ham, has confirmed that the US has deployed its intelligence machinery to support Nigeria in fighting the threat posed by violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Ham, who spoke in an interview session with a Nigerian media delegation in Stuttgart on Friday, said the support followed a request from the Nigerian authorities.
The AFRICOM commander, who assumed the post in 2011, however, declined to give the details of the partnership with the Nigerian military against the terrorist group.
Ham was asked to specify if there had been a specific intelligence request from the Federal Government to curtail the violence of the militant sect.
He said, “Yes, we are working with the Nigerian Army to tackle the activities of Boko Haram in the area of intelligence support. We are committed to ensuring that we partner with others to end terrorism anywhere in the work.”
He however added that the intelligence capabilities of the US had been rated out of proportion, saying despite its avowed intelligence capabilities, it took the Americans a long time to apprehend Osama bin Laden.
The AFRICOM Commander said, “The intelligence capability of the US, on most occasions, is usually taken out of proportions and overrated. Despite our capabilities and technology, it took us more than 10 years to get bin Laden. The exercise took a huge amount of funds dedicated for that purpose.
“So, the US intelligence is not automatic but we are working with the Nigerian authorities to curtail terrorist activities.”
He added that the US had also been collaborating with the Nigerian military to stem the growing trend of maritime crimes like piracy, illegal bunkering and oil theft among others.
Ham, who hailed the professionalism and the recognition given to women in the Nigerian military, believed that Nigeria had a lot to offer other African countries in terms of leadership.
He dismissed the notion that the US established AFRICOM in 2008 to monitor and manipulate the military and security agencies of African nations.
Ham said, “Our intention stemmed from the fact that Africa had become too important to be ignored; with a population of one billion and 54 countries which is a quarter of the UN. It is also the seventh growing economies in the world.
“So, our intention has been to assist in building and improving the military capabilities of the African military to be able to compete favourably.
“President Barack Obama believes that African problems are better solved by Africa. We are not planning any military base in Africa because it costs to lot of money to do that. We do not want to increase spending; we want to reduce it.”