U.S. military continues to support Cameroon’s military
The U.S. military is continuing to provide assistance to military forces from the African nation of Cameroon despite the U.S. ambassador to that country recently accusing Cameroonian troops of carrying out “targeted killings” in its campaign against the country’s Anglophone separatists.
The African nation has been beset by violence between the government, which is led by French speakers, and Anglophones who inhabit English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
“There has been no change to the assistance (the Department of Defense) provides to Cameroon as a direct result of violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Sheryll Klinkel told CNN.
Following his meeting with President Paul Biya last month, U.S. Ambassador Peter Henry Barlerin gave a speech that accused pro-government Cameroonian security forces of conducting “targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages.”
Barlerin also accused Anglophone separatists of committing “murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials, and burning of schools.”
The U.S. has hundreds of troops in Cameroon tasked with training, advising and assisting local forces in their fight against ISIS West Africa, Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations in the Lake Chad Basin region.
Asked if any U.S.-backed Cameroonian units were participating in the actions in the Anglophone areas, the Pentagon told CNN that all military assistance to Cameroon is “subject to an end-use monitoring process to ensure that DoD-funded assistance is not directed away from its intended purpose.”
She added that U.S. law prohibits the Department of Defense from “providing any training, equipment, or other assistance to a unit of a foreign security force if DoD has credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
Klinkel said U.S. Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military operations on the continent, “will continue to coordinate all matters of security cooperation closely with Ambassador Barlerin and fully supports his efforts to encourage Cameroonians to commit to dialogue and resolving issues in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon in a peaceful and democratic manner.”
However, when asked if the U.S.-trained units had been transferred from the fight against ISIS and Boko Haram to the Anglophone regions, Klinkel said the Department of Defense “fully recognizes that Cameroon is a sovereign nation and can transfer personnel between units.”
This is not the first time questions have been raised about the U.S. military’s support for Cameroonian security forces.
U.S. Africa Command launched an investigation last August to determine if U.S. personnel were aware of allegations of torture of suspected terrorists being carried out by U.S.-trained Cameroonian troops at a base that was also frequently used by U.S. military advisers.
Klinkel said the results of that investigation have not been made public.