The United States and France will be enhancing the cooperation between their special operations forces after the signing of a new roadmap with a particular focus on Africa.
This was announced following the meeting of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly at the Pentagon on July 9.
The roadmap signals US and French intent to identify areas where increased special operations coordination and cooperation is possible, the Pentagon said in a statement.
“Our cooperation in NATO, the Sahel and the Middle East are a key to our long-standing partnership, which is grounded in common strategic interests, our shared understanding of the importance of diplomacy and a powerful interest in preserving the international rules-based order,” Austin said at the beginning of the meeting.
The meeting follows the NATO summit and the two leaders discussed the ways the two nations will work together in NATO and bilaterally. The challenge from China was among the topics of discussion. “Today, as you well know, some of our competitors are working to undermine the stable and open order that we both support,” Austin said. “So in the Indo-Pacific in particular, France is an ideal partner for the United States as we work to bolster our shared interests in the region.
Russian challenges in Europe and elsewhere also concern both nations and Austin promised the United States would continue to consult with France on this issue and more.
France is a bulwark in West Africa, and especially the Sahel region. Austin and Parly spoke about working with coalition forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to bring peace and security to the region. “The United States is proud to support our French and African partners,” he said.
After the meeting, Austin and Parly went to Fort Meade, Md., to visit US Cyber Command. “I know you have also made cybersecurity a top priority, and that France has developed a cybersecurity strategy to mitigate risk and increase its capabilities,” the secretary said. “Our countries have a strong shared interest in protecting our critical infrastructure and that of our allies, including cyber infrastructure, and that’s a foundation for our future cooperation in the area of technological infrastructure more broadly.”
“Our cooperation is already very strong and deep, especially in the field of operations, and we want to seize every opportunity to strengthen it,” Parly said. “Intelligence, space and cyber are also domains where we cooperate more and more.”